- Thursday, 02 February 2006
While Lee is best known for directing films-nearly one a year since making She's Gotta Have It in 1986--he's also gained a reputation for outspoken social critique, and his comments at the University of Florida's O'Connell Center were no exception. In addition to making a few jokes about President George W. Bush and his brother, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Lee also used the opportunity to criticize the portrayal of blacks in mass media.
"We are bombarded by these ('gangsta') images again and again and again and again . . . They do make a difference on human behavior," Lee told the crowd of over 2,000. "No one gets upset that pimpdom gets elevated on a pedestal."
Among Lee's other targets was Soul Plane star Snoop, who he made repeated reference to while deriding the stereotypical images promoted by films and videos. Lee, who has also directed music videos, took issue with the rap music genre's portrayal of women in videos as "hoes" and went so far as to accuse rappers of "cooning" in music videos.
"African-Americans are known all over the world from these videos," he said.
Aside from his issues with the representation of blacks in media, Lee also advised students to, "find a profession you love so much, you'd do it for free," adding that he felt blessed by his career. "Not many people on this Earth get to do what they love."
With a career spanning two decades, Lee has been twice nominated for Academy Awards; first for the 1989 screenplay of the controversial Do The Right Thing and in 1997 for the documentary 4 Little Girls. In addition to his work as a director, Lee is also a faculty member at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, where he earned a Master's Degree in Film. For the last four years Lee has served as artistic director of the school's Graduate Division of the Kanbar Institute of Film and Television. He's also established grants for minority students.
In related news, Lee will also take part in Nickelodeon Network's Black History Month programming, appearing on the "That's What I'm Talking About," a roundtable mini-series hosted by Wayne Brady, which will discuss the perception of Blacks in the US.