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John McWhorter: Spike Lee - 'Hipster' is the New 'Honkey'

Discussion in 'BBS Hangout: Debate & Discussion' started by Dairy Ashford, Apr 30, 2014.

  1. Dairy Ashford

    Dairy Ashford Member

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    Time Magazine

    Spike Lee’s Racism Isn’t Cute: ‘M—–f—– Hipster’ Is the New ‘Honkey’

    John McWhorter

    What’s really bothering Lee is that he doesn’t like seeing his old neighborhood full of white people, which makes him historical detritus.

    It’s interesting that the director of the richest oeuvre of black films in the history of the medium doesn’t understand what the Civil Rights revolution was for. In his expletive-laced comments about the gentrification of Fort Greene during an interview at the Pratt Institute, Spike Lee seemed to think that what we Overcame for was to be grouchy bigots.

    Basically, black people are getting paid more money than they’ve ever seen in their lives for their houses, and a once sketchy neighborhood is now quiet and pleasant. And this is a bad thing… why?

    Lee seems to think it’s somehow an injustice whenever black people pick up stakes. But I doubt many of the blacks now set to pass fat inheritances on to their kids feel that way. This is not the old story of poor blacks being pushed out of neighborhoods razed down for highway construction. Lee isn’t making sense.

    “Respect the culture” when you move in, Lee growls. But again, he isn’t making sense. We can be quite sure that if whites “respected” the culture by trying to participate in it, Lee would be one of the first in line to call it “appropriation.” So, no whites better open up barbecue joints or spoken word cafes or try to be rappers. Yet if whites walk on by the culture in “respectful” silence, then the word on the street becomes that they want to keep blacks at a distance.

    In his interview with Anderson Cooper on Wednesday to clarify, Lee mentioned the controversy in Harlem some years ago over park drumming, which new white residents protested. Lee thinks whites were supposed to put up with being woken up on weekend mornings by the drums. That was a subtle issue. I refer to it in my Western Civilization class as a difficult judgment — the kind that shows that real life offers few easy answers.

    Lee seems to think it was an open-and-shut case – but then how would he feel if it were whites drumming and blacks moving into the neighborhood and complaining? Maybe he thinks blacks are supposed to be accommodated as payback for the past. But for how long? Pity is not respect. W.E.B. DuBois once said that “Black America needs justice and is given charity.”

    But on gentrification Lee doesn’t have time for making sense or trying to, despite the nuance he so brilliantly displays in his films. His comments are instead a tantrum, and an ugly one. What’s really bothering Lee is that he doesn’t like seeing his old neighborhood full of white people.

    Or whitey, perhaps. Just as “thug” is a new way of saying the N-word in polite society, Lee’s “m—–f—– hipster” epithet for the new whites of Fort Greene is a sneaky way of saying “honkey.” Lee is less a social analyst than a reincarnation of George Jefferson with his open hostility to whites.

    But George had grown up in Jim Crow America. We let his bigotry pass as “cute” because it was just desserts for a nasty past that was barely even past. But it’s been 40 years.

    Surely what bothers Lee is not that Fort Greene is now a cushy neighborhood. He just wishes it had gotten that way with all black faces. He’s yearning for the multi-class black communities that people of his generation regret the dissolutions of after the end of institutionalized segregation (when black people like my parents, for example, moved out to mixed or white neighborhoods).

    But let’s face it: The reason there were black communities like that was because of segregation. If there still were black communities like that, no matter how beautiful they would look when shot lovingly in films like Lee’s, it would signify racial barriers. The neighborhood would be prime fodder for people like Lee to intone with smug indignation about how non-post-racial America is. “You barely see a white face on the streets. What’s that about? What are they afraid of?”

    Enough, Mr. Lee. Enough.

    When racial barriers come down, people mingle, cohabitate, and mate. People grumbling on the sidelines about the losses and appropriations and whatnot that this involves are historical detritus. That becomes ringingly clear in how impossible it is to scorn the multiracial children who grow from processes like this, who grow up to be perfectly normal adults — and life goes on.

    And black will go on — but hopefully not the way people like Lee would prefer. There are those who think recreational contrarianism is the soul of blackness — surely, if we aren’t mad, we aren’t truly black.

    But history records no human group whose core essence was eternal indignation. Lee’s films, ironically, teach much about what black is and what it will be. Odd that in real life he thinks hearkening back to the social politics of Fred Sanford is moving on up.
     
  2. conquistador#11

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    well, you can't always do the right thing.
     
  3. g1184

    g1184 Member

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    Generally, the main subject topic is posted first, then the opinion columns.

    Here's the main topic, Spike Lee's rant (link):
    In some sections he has a point, the others he sounds like a 1950s white guy when a black family moved into "his" neighborhood.
     
  4. glad_ken

    glad_ken Contributing Member

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    Audio of Spike Lee Rant above.

    <iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/DaoEECayPLc" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
     
  5. Mr. Clutch

    Mr. Clutch Contributing Member

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    I just realized I don't care.
     
  6. KingCheetah

    KingCheetah Contributing Member

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    Hipsters are honkies -- what is there to debate?

    Scenesters on the other hand remain so hot they are cool.
     
  7. basso

    basso Contributing Member
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    <iframe width="853" height="480" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/yuEBBwJdjhQ" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
     
  8. Buck Turgidson

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  9. rocketsjudoka

    rocketsjudoka Contributing Member

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    <iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/jc6_XgtOQgI" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
     
  10. Nook

    Nook Member

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    I am sick of all the censorship new age bull$hit that has become vogue the last dozen years. People are conditioned to be offended by everything. Thus, I support Spike Lee's right to speak his mind, and be open with his thoughts.

    Having said that... Yeah what he said is the exact reasoning used for white flight and efforts to not sell or rent to blacks or any number of other minorities. I understand where he is coming from, as no one likes to see their neighborhood change.

    I would love to sit down and have a beer with him and play Archie Bunker with him, b****ing how one racial group annoys another.
     
  11. robbie380

    robbie380 ლ(▀̿Ĺ̯▀̿ ̿ლ)
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    McWhorter was the guy who inspired me to take an African American studies class when I was at UT. Sadly, he was right about a lot of the things he said in his Losing the Race book.
     
  12. BetterThanI

    BetterThanI Contributing Member

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    I don't care if your dad has been in his house since 1868, if I can hear his music in my place and he won't quiet down, I'm calling the effing cops.

    That's not a black-white thing, that's a being-a-considerate-neighbor thing.
     
  13. dback816

    dback816 Member

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    Congress should pass a law that prohibits Spike Lee from remaking movies. His version of Oldboy was ****ing terrible.
     
  14. da_juice

    da_juice Member

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    Gentrification will exist long into the future. We don't really eradicate poverty in this country, we just move it around.
     
    1 person likes this.
  15. nickb492

    nickb492 Contributing Member

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    I think if you just change the wording white people to new people I understand it. I get it, he doesn't like change and the grittiness of the place.
     
  16. IBTL

    IBTL Member

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    water is wet.
    Spike lee is a racist piece of crap.
     
  17. across110thstreet

    across110thstreet Contributing Member

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    I don't understand his own quote- he is talking about the character that defends his right to walk around Brooklyn, who claims that he was born in Brooklyn after basically being accused of being a gentrified hipster.

    but the whole point is that he was a native Brooklyn guy. how you calling your own Brooklyn born character the first hipster, spike?

    I don't share the same views of him as some in this thread, and I enjoy his films. at the same time I agree 100% with the article.

    as someone who has lived in those very neighborhoods he mentions I have always had a problem with people who are upset that a neighborhood is on the upswing, and they hide behind the "gentrification" label but really mean "white people", when most of the time the neighborhoods keep their historic and cultural charm.
     

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