Spike Lee Blasts Critic At Film Festival For Mincing Words About A Movie He Made 34 Years Ago

Spike Lee blasted critics who said his 1989 film “Do The Right Thing” would incite riots while accepting an award at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) on Sunday.

The famous filmmaker was being honored with the Ebert Director Award at TIFF and took a moment to revisit the press coverage of his legendary movie while noting the same issues exist today. Chaz Ebert, wife of the late film critic Roger Ebert, presented the award to Lee. Lee credited Chaz for her late husband’s support while slamming other critics who pushed back against “Do The Right Thing” by suggesting the movie would incite riots, according to a video posted by Variety.

The 1989 film explored racial tensions in an African-American neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York, and the plot stirred debate among critics in the press.

In spite of the pressure and backlash from other critics, when the movie was released, Roger Ebert supported the film.

“Your husband was very crucial [in] my career. He was very crucial, 1989 in Cannes, to ‘Do the Right Thing,’” Lee said to Chaz while on stage at Toronto’s Fairmont Royal York hotel.

“Your husband got behind me because there was motherfuckers, excuse my language, in the press, saying that ‘Do the Right Thing’ was gonna incite Black people to riot, that this film should not be shown in the United States, that Black people riot, see the film, take to the streets,” Lee said.

Lee recalled the growing tensions surrounding his film and the conversations that ensued.

“This film should not be shown, at least not let it come out in the summer,” Lee recalled.

“And the great Tom Pollock says, ‘Spike, we’re releasing the film on June 30th,’” he said.

Lee pointed out there were no riots as a result of the release of the film and sharply put the critics in their place.

“The film came out. There were no riots,” he said.

Lee recounted an article in New York Magazine that told people to hope the movie was not shown in their neighborhoods.

“That this film, ‘Do the Right Thing’, will incite Black people to tear shit up, to take to the streets like Detroit in ’77 or Newark in 1968,” he said.

“So thank you everyone. Thank Roger because he went to bat for me and many years later, we’re on the right side of history/herstory. Thank you very much,” Lee said. (RELATED: ‘Bob’s Burgers’ Charged For Alleged Involvement In Jan. 6 Riots)


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