Spike Lee

Spike Lee (Shelton Jackson Lee), 1957–, American filmmaker, b. Atlanta, Ga. As a student at New York Univ., he won recognition with his graduation film, Joe's Bed-Stuy Barbershop: We Cut Heads (1982). His films usually celebrate the richness of African-American culture and address such societal problems as racism, sexism, and narcotics addiction. She's Gotta Have It (1986), mainly about sexual relations and attitudes, established Lee as a commercially viable director. Lee later updated and sharpened the film as a television miniseries (2017). His Do the Right Thing (1989) presented the complexities and tensions behind interracial relations.

Many of his subsequent films have been controversial—Jungle Fever (1991), an exploration of interracial relations and attitudes; Malcolm X (1992), based on the life of the African-American leader; Clockers (1995), a violent portrait of life at the lowest reaches of the drug underworld; Girl 6 (1996), a high-spirited portrayal of a young woman in the phone sex business; and The Original Kings of Comedy (2000), a series of racially charged stand-up routines by four contemporary African-American comedians. He broke with his traditional style and subject matter to make Inside Man (2006), a polished heist movie.

Lee first turned to documentary with 4 Little Girls (1996), a study of the fatal 1963 bombing of a black church in Alabama. When the Levees Broke (2006) documented Hurricane Katrina and its harrowing aftermath in New Orleans; If God Is Willing and da Creek Don't Rise (2010) was its sequel. His Oldboy (2013), a revenge story about a man kidnapped for 20 years then freed, is a remake of a 2003 South Korean film. Lee changed cinematic course again with Da Sweet Blood of Jesus (2015), a vampire tale set in Brooklyn and Martha's Vineyard and based on a 1973 Bill Gunn film. The musical film Chi-Raq (2015), based on Aristophanes' Lysistrata, is set amid the murderous gang violence of Chicago's South Side.

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2018, The Columbia University Press.

Spike Lee: Selected full-text books and articles

The Philosophy of Spike Lee By Mark T. Conard University Press of Kentucky, 2011
Spike Lee: Two Decades on the Big Screen By Sturgis, Ingrid The Crisis, Vol. 113, No. 5, September/October 2006
Black Directors in Hollywood By Melvin Donalson University of Texas Press, 2003
Librarian's tip: Chap. 6 "Spike Lee: The Independent Auteur"
All Things to All People: Opposing Agendas and Ambiguous Purpose in the Films of Spike Lee By Horvath, Brooke; Kemp, Melissa Prunty Hollins Critic, Vol. 31, No. 4, October 1994
Happy Birthday, Nola Darling! an Essay Commemorating the Twentieth Anniversary of Spike Lee's She's Gotta Have It By Foote, Thelma Wills Women's Studies Quarterly, Vol. 35, No. 1/2, Spring 2007
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Reel Racism: Confronting Hollywood's Construction of Afro-American Culture By Vincent F. Rocchio Westview Press, 2000
Librarian's tip: Chap. 8 "Do the Right Thing: Style as Confrontation"
The Formal Dualism of Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing By Lightning, Robert K CineAction, Vol. 87, Spring 2012
Outsider Features: American Independent Films of the 1980s By Richard K. Ferncase Greenwood Press, 1996
Librarian's tip: Chap. 7 "Brooklyn Broach: She's Gotta Have It (1986)"
Am I Black Enough for You? Popular Culture from the 'Hood and Beyond By Todd Boyd Indiana University Press, 1997
Librarian's tip: "Spike Lee and the New Black Aesthetic" begins on p. 24
Worrying about Race, 1985-1995: Reflections during a Troubled Time By Sanford Pinsker Whitston, 1996
Librarian's tip: "Spike Lee: Protest, Literary Tradition, and the Individual Filmmaker" starts on p. 46
Which Way to the Promised Land?: Spike Lee's Clockers and the Legacy of the African American City By Massood, Paula J African American Review, Vol. 35, No. 2, Summer 2001
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Spike Lee: Fast Forward By Fitzgerald, Sharon American Visions, Vol. 10, No. 5, October-November 1995
Athletic Iconography in Spike Lee's Early Feature Films By Houston, Kerr African American Review, Vol. 38, No. 4, Winter 2004
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Reel Black Talk: A Sourcebook of 50 American Filmmakers By Spencer Moon Greenwood Press, 1997
Librarian's tip: "Spike Lee" begins on p. 223
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