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Boots Riley Offers A Three-Page Political Critique On Spike Lee’s ‘BlacKkKlansman’

Boots Riley gives his opinion on Spike Lee’s latest film.

Sorry to Bother You director Boots Riley has weighed in, offering more much needed criticism to the landscape of critical acclaim that surrounds Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman.  Riley took to Twitter to present his detailed critique, opening with the following disclaimer: “This is not as much an aesthetic critique of the masterful craftwork of this film as it is a political critique of the content of and timing of the film.”  In his three-page informal essay, Riley uses the memoir of the real-life Ron Stallworth, his own interactions with Kwame Ture and the Black Liberation Party, and the current fight by Black Lives Matter to put an end to police brutality and murder to solidify his main point. 

Riley states that in our contemporary moment to produce a film that markets itself as a real story, but relies on fabrications to paint the police as heroes against racism is irresponsible. The intentionality of his argument, especially his use of hard facts, sheds new light on not only what appears to be the weakness of Lee’s writing but the politics of even creating such a narrative in a time where black and brown persons are being killed at the hands of those who Lee is attempting to portray as heroes.  Spike’s response, where he explains that we need the police and not all of them are corrupt, seems to simultaneously miss and hit the mark of Riley’s critique.

Did you enjoy Lee’s latest film?

Is Riley’s critique valid?

Is Lee’s portrayal of the cops problematic?

MJ VanDevere

MJ VanDevere is a doctoral candidate at a predominately white elite institution in the South who uses humor to combat racism, sexism, and all the other –isms that seek to diminish her greatness. She is a self-proclaimed “stand-up snob” who does not have a favorite comedian, so please don't ask unless you have several hours to spare. Some of her favorite movies include, Life, Dead Presidents, and Happy Feet. If, she could only do one thing for the rest of her life, it would definitely be laugh, and maybe write. Adulting is her greatest work in progress.

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