Brittany Schock/ Asst. photo editor
Recently, legendary filmmaker Spike Lee spoke to Ohio State students about education, his achievements and political views, the importance of studying what you are passionate about and not letting anyone, mainly parents, detour you from your dreams. On Feb. 13, BET aired the BET Honors award show in which they honored Spike Lee for his many contributions to the film world and to the black community.
The BET Honors award show deviates from the standard award show, which honors musicians and actors for their creative work. This particular award show celebrates excellence that certain African-American entertainers and activists have obtained throughout their career. Alongside Lee, Maya Angelou, Mariah Carey, Stevie Wonder, the Tuskegee Airmen and Beverly Kearney were honored for their many contributions to history in their respective careers.
Director John Singleton introduced Spike Lee by describing his first time meeting Lee while he was going to film school and when Lee was filming “She’s Gotta Have It.” Various people gave their own personal stories about Lee, including Samuel L. Jackson. Many of Lee’s films, such as “Malcolm X,” “Do the Right Thing” and “He Got Game,” all of these films have what some consider “controversial” themes. Racism, police brutality and the struggle of the young black male cycle throughout these films and Lee’s other works. Jackson explained, however, that Lee’s films were not controversial, but were “touching, tender spots in our culture.”
Lee said after receiving his award, “My films reflect my views.” How he felt about what he was experiencing is what influenced these films. I believe Lee was not out to try to persuade anyone with his films, but was shedding light on subjects that are often sidelined. He captured the very essence of the cultural issues the black community faced, and displayed them in a way that his audience could relate to. That, to me, showed his genius.
Just as Lee explained in his sit-down session with OSU students that “parents can be the biggest dream killers,” he made the same statement in his acceptance speech. I feel that he was on to something. I know for myself, entering a level of higher education meant a greater chance for me to be financially stable. I honestly did not come into college following my dreams, or doing what I loved. My goal was to make money and make my mother proud. Lee’s statement really hit home because I saw myself traveling down a road that would lead to me being an adult who hates their profession. I had to realize what was more important to me — being financially successful or being happy? I came to the conclusion that being happy with what you do and doing what you love is being successful; the finances will come with hard work. Just look at Spike Lee; a starving film student with a dream of becoming a filmmaker. He overcame the odds that were against him and used the criticism he received as motivation. Now he is an award-winning influential filmmaker. His story is the epitome of staying true to what you love and following your heart.
Lee’s honor was well-deserved. I hope the future looks bright for Spike Lee and that he continues to share his views on “controversial” issues with us and remains steadfast in enlightening us on subjects that are sometimes overlooked.