tv Talk to Al Jazeera Al Jazeera February 28, 2016 11:30am-12:01pm EST
we start to find the first golden age of colombian cinema. >> one that is showing the promise of a country rife with great stories to tell, with audiences at home fully ready to fall in love with them. more on everything we're covering right here. >> this week on talk to al jazeera, director and producer spike lee. >> oh snap! >> we gonna make sure these fools put down these guns. >> lee's new film "chi-raq" tackles gang warfare in chicago - and the idea that a "sex strike" could help quell it. while it's a satire based in one inner city, gun violence is an epidemic. >> how long will be...
will we... will we bow down before the tyranny of the nra, the gun manufacturers and the politicians, you know, which are in their pocket? >> the director applauds the call to action by groups like black lives matter - but emphasizes that black-on-black crime cannot be ignored. >> we're killin' ourselves. >> recently lee was awarded an honorary oscar for revolutionizing modern-day black cinema. that didn't stop him from speaking out about the need for still greater representation in the industry. >> it's easier for african american person to be president of the united states of america than president of a hollywood studio or tv or cable network. >> and talking about the president, one of lee's most iconic films "do the right thing" may have helped a younger barack obama. >> i always say thank god he didn't take michelle to see driving miss mother****in'
daisy. (laughs) or that have been the last date! (clapping) >> i spoke to spike lee at his production house - 40 acres and a mule, based in his childhood neighborhood fort greene brooklyn. >> talk to me a little bit about why chi-raq, why chicago, why now? >> well, chicago is the southwest side of chicago is like the canary in the coal mine for gun violence. new york city is three times the population of chicago, yet chicago has more homicides. so kevin willmott, we co-wrote the script and we knew that it had to be chicago. but just by choosin' chicago, if you choose the biggest, then you can get everything underneath. kevin and i tried to do this film six years ago. wasn't the time for it six years ago. time is now. >> why?
>> well, the film begins with those words, "this is an emergency". and gun violence is something that affects every american. we have to get out of the thinkin' that it just affects any certain people, any certain neighborhoods. it goes across the board, gun violence. >> and although there may be one type of life on the south side or the west side or another part downtown on the magnificent mile, here you still have over 400 actual murders. and so, like you said, this affects everybody. and so by going to chicago, you being there, filming there, do you see a tale of two cities? >> i mean those lines are said by samuel l. jackson in the open. that it is a tale of two cities. those familiar with that, that's the charles dickens novel. and in fact the march that took place black friday was a clear indication of a tale of two
cities, because the people bein' affected were furious about this tape that was released by the... you could say the execution of laquan. the murder of laquan. sixteen shots. our first day of filmin' was june 1st. our last day of filmin' was july 9th. durin' that time, from the first of june to july 9th, while we're shooting, while we're filming chi-raq, 331 people were wounded and shot. sixty-five gun murdered. >> 331? >> wounded and shot. sixty-five gun murdered. and it's escalated since then. but when nine-year-old tyshawn lee is lured into an alleyway and shot... i don't care what his father is, what his father did. if he's a gang or not. no nine-year-old should be executed anywhere
let alone in the world. especially not the united states of america, the so called beacon of democracy peace and all... ...all the other stuff. >> right. and we have story after story like that. do the right thing. isn't it radio raheem who is... >> well, what... >> killed by police? >> yes, but radio raheem was based upon a real murder. >> right. >> michael stewart. but here's the crazy thing. when the strangulation of radio raheem is based upon what the cops did to michael stewart at a train subway station. and then to see eric gardner... >> right. >> i mean i fell out of my seat. so much in fact that i called my editor, barry brown, and we put somethin' out on youtube - we intercut both strangulations. radio raheem which is fictional, which is based on fact, with the real life strangulation murder of eric gardner. >> and we as a nation watched that. >> the whole world watched it.
and then look what happened. i don't think this is somethin' that's new. i just think that with social media because before the general newspaper, they're not... you know, they - they might not cover it. >> you look at, like you said, this movement. black lives matter. is it working? is it a true movement that can do something do you see it as? is this something that can actually make change? >> oh, it's making a lot of change. now, we give shout outs - much love to black lives matter in this film chi-raq. but i have sort of a different approach. is that and father... michael pfleger. you know, we talk about this all the time. it can't be about... just about what is the color the complexion of the hand, the finger that pulls the trigger. so for me it just can't be black lives matter. let's talk about the cops
who are shootin' us down like dogs in the street. not all cops. >> right. >> but... look, people... mothers and fathers are burying their sons and daughters. that's a fact. but we're... we have to look amongst ourselves what we're doin' too. so me... for me... and i'm not speakin' on... on behalf of 45 million african americans. for me, if you... if... you... you don't have a moral... for me a moral foundation if you're only talkin' about cops. we're killin' ourselves. so... >> so it's just not these incidents of police brutality or officer-involved shootings, what you're saying is we also have to pay attention to this daily gun violence that's plaguing... >> our communities. >> all these cities. >> so i think that it's a two hand approach. and then also we still have to expand it and come back to this gun violence affects all americans. i'm not askin'... and i'm not tryin' (unintel)
anybody's second amendment rights. but we have to have tougher background checks. somethin' i got from father pfleger out of chicago. we should title guns like cars. there's no reason in the world why people should be able to walk into a gun... go to a gun store, a gun shop with a legal... illegal id and come out with an assault weapon. >> well, one of the things with father michael pfleger, and father michael pfleger, for those who don't know, is... he's a priest in chicago at st. sabina's church on the south side. and he's also been an activist for the majority of his career. >> let's make it clear though. father pfleger is a white (slapping) roman catholic priest. runs this church. head of this church. the fa... >> predominantly black... congregation. when you go in the... >> right in the hood. >> they got a choir. they have... you know... >> band. >> ...the praise dancers. i mean this is unlike any catholic church you've seen. especially in the midwest. >> yeah, i don't think the pope's been to a church like... (laugh) the pope ain't seen a
church like this. i like the pope. but anyway, we... >> he's in it. he's in the middle of it. >> yes, he's in the middle of 'em. he's taken on... he just won a lawsuit against... a community who are... havin' gun... who had a gun store in their neighborhood. but here's another thing. is that we need a national law, because, for example, the state of illinois the state of illinois, the city of chicago, have very, very, very tight gun laws. >> they do. >> but what's next? indiana. >> just across the border. fifteen, 20 minute ride. >> twenty minutes, you get... you get mad guns. (laugh) crazy guns. from... that's where the guns are comin' from. >> similar (unintel) in philadelphia as well. >> in... in new york. guns coming from philly... the state of pennsylvania, through virginia. further south in georgia. so you can have a
very, very tight... you still have... could be tight, but if your neighborin' states, if their thing is lax, it still affects you. but i will say this, is that we go around the world sayin' we're the beacon of democracy, of the most civilized country on this earth. but i know for sure... 'cause i travel a lot. people look at us like we're barbarians. (laughter) if you travel the world, and- >> they find out where you're from... >> and they say... and the guns... i mean it's amazin'. and it really... how long will we bow down before the tyranny of the nra, the gun manufacturers and the politicians, you know, which are in their pocket? you know, that... that we have to have a greater love of human beings than money.
we cannot kneel down on... on all fours and pray at the altar of the almighty dollar. i'm sorry. money does not rule over human life. and... and... this stuff, it's the nra and the gun manufacturers that... that are keepin' this thing goin' because they're... they're makin' money. >> one of the big complaints is that, "listen, you can even have a mass shooting, whether it's, you know, sandy hook or it's the aurora theatre". the question that they always say is, "what will it take to actually..." whether change the laws or actually change the discussion in terms of these lobbies. and in your opinion what will it take to make change? >> we gotta keep fightin'. i mean there's many things that are wrong with america that... that... through years, through legislation, through... federal courts. i mean how long were
our ancestors, i mean, enslaved? you know, that you... we go down the line. most recently... you know... same sex marriage. so there's... there's various things that... women the right to vote. various things that... that were wrong, were evil, that over time there was a change. and i think that... i don't know what's gonna be the pivotal... i don't know if it's gonna be one pivotal thing. >> sure. >> because let's be honest. if young white infants in kindergarten and first grade get slaughtered and nothin' happens right away, then you know that... it's gonna take a minute. 'cause every... i thought for sure... the president... i... i would put money on it. president obama felt the same thing. but... it hasn't been the case but we were... we're...
88 people die every day in the united states of america due to gun violence. >> eighty-eight people. >> every single day. which adds up to like, i think 32,000. i'm never... never... never was good... that good in math, but... >> hey, i was told there'd be no math on this exam. (laughter) >> but... and it's profit. profit. and tomorrow is goin' to be the 60th anniversary of the start of the montgomery bus boycott. >> right. it's the anniversary of the rosa park arrest. >> so... i don't know exact... was it a year? but eventually... black people made so much a part of the... the people used the busses eventually they had to cave in because they were goin' out of business. >> you could no longer ignore it. >> and that worked in... 60 years ago.
and it worked last friday in the magnificent mile in chicago. and sometimes you can't depend on... you can't explain to people what's right, what's wrong what's just. then when you... after that tactic works, then it's about the bottom line. the bottom line. >> chicago mayor rahm emmanuel wasn't happy about spike lee's choice for the title of his film "chi-raq"... the director responds next.
the biggest critic. the mayor only... i mean look... and... look, we... we had a difference, but in no way did mayor rahm emmanuel say, "spike, i don't want you to make this film". he never said that. he said, "spike, i like your films". he said, "my problem is is that i don't like the title," which i didn't come up with. the term chi-raq came off local chicago rappers who thought, and i think rightfully so, where they live... southwest... west... on the southwest side of chicago, is a war zone. >> and the numbers confirm it. >> yes. the dubious numbers. and then he also said that this film will hurt tourism and economic development. well, i would like to tell you this. while we were filmin' chi-raq in chicago, nfl commissioner roger goodell had the nfl draft. >> just a little event.
>> 250,000 people were in grant park for the (unintel). then you had the grateful dead's last five concerts at soldier field. then you had lollapalooza. those three events. you couldn't get a hotel room. you couldn't get a restaurant. >> couldn't get a rental. >> you couldn't get a car... chicago was jumpin'. nfl draft, grateful dead lollapalooza, all happened while we were filmin' chi-raq. but that's all downtown. so this goes back to a tale of two cities. anybody that went to those three events they were not goin' to the south side. they weren't going to terror town. if you live downtown the north side the only reason you're gonna go to the south side is if you're goin' to see the white sox play.
and usually if you're on the north side you hate the... the... the white sox and you're a cub fan. so if... (laugh) so there's really no reason to go to the south side. so that whole part of the argument of... the mayor's argument, i mean i totally disagree with. i did a documentary called four little girls, which is about the bombing of the sixth history baptist church, birmingham alabama... where on september (chuckle) 16, 1963, four black girls were blown apart by dynamite. and in that film... we have archival footage of mayors of southern towns, who always say it's some outside agitators. like, "we know... we know how to control our niggers". it is outside agitators. "these... these negroes from the north who are comin' down to stir our niggers up."
in a lotta ways that reminds (laugh) me of what these people are sayin' about me and... and... >> and it's not just chicago... >> and... and... and... >> it's baltimore. new orleans. >> yes >> anywhere, that's always it's the outside agitators. >> but here... here... here... here's... here's the thing that really is troublin' to me. nick cannon and i were gettin', you know, stuff in a social medium saying... criticizin' nick because he's not authentic. here's the word that really got me. he's not a "savage". so that's... >> i'm sorry. i'm sorry. people are saying he's not savage enough to play... >> no, he's not a savage... because that's new term some of these young brothers are usin'. that's the new form of malehood. you gotta be a savage. so... >> wow. >> ...this... i mean look, i understand these
young brothers are hurt. they're lost. but we... you know, and they're cryin' out for help. but we get to the place where these young brothers, they wanna... their goal in life for the little time... they know they're gonna... they... they... they're okay. number one, they're... oh, they're okay with the fact they might not live past 20. they're okay with that. before they get shot, whatever or locked up, they... their... their goal is to be a savage. now, there's somethin' wrong with that. >> and one guy... i... i... i responded to him. i said, "let me ask you a question brother. do you want your children, do you want your son to grow up to be a savage? do you want your daughter to grow up to be a bitch or a ho?" he didn't answer. crickets. same person sayin' that nick wasn't a savage. >> did robert de niro go killin' people left and right before he had to play travis bickle in the
great, great film, my man martin... martin scorsese, taxi driver? so there's a disconnect. >> talk to me about diversity in hollywood. this is another thing that's been coming up a lot lately too in the discussions. that... you also spoke about this when you were on stage recently. there's another disconnect also in hollywood. >> oh, well, i was very... through the good graces of academy president cheryl bon isaacs and the... the... the board of governors, they voted for me to have... an oscar, honorary oscar. so, it's like two weeks ago was presented to me... presented to me... presented to me by the... the trinity. denzel washington, samuel l. jackson, and wesley snipes. they all presented me my oscar. and during my speech i made a couple statements. one's that the entertainment industry is way behind sports, as far as diversity goes.
it's easier for african american person to be president of the united states of america than president of a hollywood studio or tv or cable network. >> and why does that matter? >> because image... images matter. and if we're not in the position, we're not in the room then we don't really have a say. if... here's the thing, we go... i'm... i'm glad we got black stars. that's great. but they're not really in the... woven into the fabric of decision... decision-making in... in hollywood, or the networks. and also this is beyond hollywood. it's television, it's newspapers, it's magazines. we have to be in those
positions where we have a vote... you have a part of the decision. we have a say. and we're... and that's not the case now. >> but here you are, you know, all these years later. does it still frustrate you that it... nothing's changed? >> i can't say nothing's changed. but it's... here's the thing, again, there... a whole world people who felt that when... when president barack hussein obama put his right hand, on abraham lincoln's bible, it's gonna be abracadabra presto-chango, poof! we're in the post racial... whaddya call it? >> society. >> post racial society. you ever watch charlie brown growin' up... wah-wah! (laughs) wah-wah! post... get! >> but for real, it's supposed to be this utopia! everybody's gonna... >> yeah, you know what they... get rich... ...you know what they say in brooklyn to that?
>> i'm sarah hoye and this is talk to al jazeera. my guest this week is spike lee. >> well, speaking of your films, you know, a lot of them... lotta your feature films make... sports references. >> uh-huh (affirm). >> why? what's the connection? did you... did you wanna be a pro one day? >> the connection is this, both of my loves came from my parents. my mother was... loved... she was a cinephile. so, she took me to movies. my father's a jazz musician, he didn't... he hated movies.
so, i was my mother's date. but my father loved sports. so, sports and film came from my parents. and growin' up i had the... a fleeting moment of maybe bein' in prof... playing second base for new york mets. but then i woke up. (laughs). >> so, i have heard that the president took his wife to see do the right thing... >> now wife. >> now wife, now wife. when they were first dating, they went on their first date to see... >> first date. do the right thing. >> first date... i always say thank god he didn't take michelle to see driving miss motherf***in' daisy. (laughs) or that have been the last date! (clapping) michelle'll looked at him and say, "you... ...michelle woulda said, "duce. i'm out." (laughs). >> it's been real nice, i'll call you. like, yo. (laughs) and don't
call me again. >> i'll holla. i'll holla, barack. >> but they went... they went... they went to see... >> that was a good choice, you approve? >> oh... oh yeah. oh... >> it was a good choice. >> it's part of history. >> hello. >> part of history. i mean, no matter what that film brought 'em together, and then they went their s... they went to baskin robbins after that. >> what kinda ice-cream? >> i don't know, you gotta ask them. i... all i know is they had a choice of 33 flavors. (laughs).