OSCAR-award-winning director Spike Lee reckons so-called “cancel culture” is going too far, as “you can’t just erase someone like they never existed”.
Hours after defending pal Woody Allen, however, he backtracked and apologized for airing the “wrong words” in a radio interview.
Lee, 63, who has never been one to mince words, was speaking on New York City radio station WOR’s talk show ‘In the Morning’.
He told hosts Len Berman and Michael Riedel: “I’d just like to say Woody Allen is a great, great filmmaker and this cancel thing is not just Woody.
"And I think when we look back on it we are going to see that — short of killing somebody — I don’t know you that you can just erase somebody like they never existed."
Lee added: “Woody is a friend of mine, a fellow Knick fan, so I know he’s going through it right now.”
Short of killing somebody, I don’t know you that you can just erase somebody like they never existed.
Aside from being best known for his provocative films including “BlacKkKlansman”, “Do the Right Thing” and “Malcolm X”, Lee is a New York Knicks superfan.
He had appeared on the radio show to promote his latest Netflix movie “Da 5 Bloods", based on four African-American veterans returning to Vietnam decades after the war to find their squad leader's remains, and a stash of buried gold.
However, hours after defending Allen on air, Lee publicly backtracked.
Taking to Twitter, he said: "I deeply apologize. My words were WRONG.
"I do not and will not tolerate sexual harassment, assault or violence.
"Such treatment causes real damage that can't be minimized.-Truly, Spike Lee."
His surprise apology was applauded by fans, who commended him for "admitting he'd made a mistake".
Lee has directed some of the most well-known and best-reviewed movies on civil rights and race relations in the past 30-plus years.
These include 'Do the Right Thing,' 'Malcolm X' and 'BlacKkKlansman' — the last of which earned Lee the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay last year.
His latest film, 'Da 5 Bloods,' opens with footage of Muhammad Ali’s speech, when the boxing great refused to be drafted into the Vietnam War.
News agency Associated Press points out that his movie is arriving just as millions have taken to the streets to protest endemic racism and the death of George Floyd.
Lee bookends his new Netflix movie with Ali and other black activist figures from the ’60s, framing “Da 5 Bloods” as not just a war film but an inquiry into what patriotism means for African-Americans.
“The narrative that’s been painted of American heroism is John Wayne,” says Lee.
“So I felt it was appropriate that we have true American patriots.”
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