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Creator / Spike Lee

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"I'm just trying to tell a good story and make thought-provoking, entertaining films. I just try and draw upon the great culture we have as a people, from music, novels, the streets."

Shelton Jackson "Spike" Lee (born March 20, 1957 in Atlanta, Georgia). Very political. Very polarizing. Very popular.

A renowned film director, producer, screenwriter, and actor famous for dealing with controversial issues such as racism, politics, and urban violence in his films, Lee has received five Academy Award nominations with one win (Best Adapted Screenplay in 2019 for BlacKkKlansman), a Student Academy Award and an Academy Honorary Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and won numerous other awards, including an Emmy Award and the 2013 Gish Prize.

A Brooklyn native, Lee made his directorial debut with the 1983 independent film Joe's Bed-Stuy Barbershop: We Cut Heads, with his first major feature film, She's Gotta Have It, being released in 1986. He has since directed such films as Do the Right Thing, Malcolm X, Summer of Sam, 25th Hour, Inside Man and BlacKkKlansman. Lee's films are typically referred to as "Spike Lee Joints", and the closing credits always end with the phrases "By Any Means Necessary", "Ya Dig" and "Sho Nuff".

In 2006, Lee directed the acclaimed documentary When the Levees Broke, which detailed life in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina destroyed the city's anti-flooding safeguards in 2005. In 2013, he was chosen to direct an English-language remake of the South Korean thriller Oldboy.

Lee has starred or acted in ten of his own films. He played the lead role of Mookie in Do the Right Thing and major supporting roles in Malcolm X, Girl 6, and Mo Better Blues. He reprised the role of Mars Blackmon from She's Gotta Have It for a series of Nike commercials also starring Michael Jordan.

Famously attributed with coining the name for the "Magical Negro" trope.

Is the Sitcom Arch-Nemesis of Quentin Tarantino, whom Lee has clashed with over his films' use of a certain word.

Don't mix him up with Spike Jonze.

Selected Joints:


  • Big Applesauce: He's one of the most iconic New York film makers and his work is often held up as some of the best revolving around the city.
  • Bittersweet Ending: You'd be hard pressed to find any of his films that has an uplifting ending. This trope is as close to a happy ending any of his characters would get.
  • Creator Provincialism: Most of his films are set in his hometown of New York City and often in Brooklyn, where he grew up.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: A few of his film such as Do the Right Thing, Inside Man and 25th Hour take place over a single day.
  • Grey-and-Gray Morality: A defining feature of most of his works. Pretty much no one is entirely good or bad and almost everyone is given some redeeming or sympathetic traits as well as serious character flaws.
  • Insistent Terminology: His movies are usually marketed as "A Spike Lee Joint" rather than "A Spike Lee Film".
  • Mood Whiplash: A frequent feature of his movies is that they play like comedies until interrupted by literal or figurative violence.
  • No Fourth Wall: One of Spike Lee's famous trademarks is that he often has characters directly address the camera and/or audience, and frequently places actors on dollies to achieve a gliding or rotating effect against the background of the shot. It's not so much breaking the fourth wall, as much as completely demolishing it.
  • Production Posse: He has a giant stable of actors he often hires that is too long to list here.