*Days after Spike Lee railed against Hollywood studio executives at the Sundance Film Festival, his co-producer and co-writer of “Red Hook Summer” has accused those same executives of attempting to keep black filmmakers under their thumb.
“It’s the same old story. Nothing in this world happens unless white folks says it happens,” James McBride wrote on the Lee website, 40acres.com. “And therein lies the problem of being a professional black storyteller — writer, musician, filmmaker.
Being black is like serving as Hoke, the driver in Driving Miss Daisy, except it’s a kind of TV series [that] lasts the rest of your life. You get to drive the well-meaning boss to and fro, you love that boss, your lives are stitched together, but only when the boss decides your story intersects with his or her life is your story valid. Because you’re a kind of cultural maid.”
Speaking of maids, McBride pointed out that Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer each received Oscar nominations this week for playing maids in “The Help.”
“This is 73 years after the first African American to win an Oscar, Hattie McDaniel, garnered the award for the same role – as a maid, and a slave maid at that, winning the Oscar in the Best Supporting Actress category on Feb. 29, 1940. And here we are, in the year of our Lord, Jan 25, 2012. Maybe I’m getting old, but the irony of this is too much.”