The black director of Lee Daniels’ The Butler told the crowd at the fourth annual IFP Gotham Independent Film Awards Monday he “became very angry at white people” while researching his film.
Before Lee Daniels issued his statement of rage, he exploded in another way; as the crowd eschewed silence during his speech lauding The Butler star Forest Whitaker, Daniels blurted out, “Forest would like to hear all you talking through my speech, so shut the fuck up.”
Having opened up the Vesuvius of his rage, Daniels noted, “When I did research for The Butler, I became very angry at white people. That shit ain’t funny because it’s not funny what happened … The lesson I learned when I did The Butler was that Forest told me to keep my anger in, to not be a stereotypical angry black man. Because if I were angry and I saw racism, then it became real. I had to step above it and pretend it wasn’t there. How do you tell your 17-year-old son that you can’t go into a 7-Eleven because you’re African-American and a dude? But Forest helped me through that. He taught me a lot.”
Daniels, who is gay, has some other anger issues that predate his anger at white people. He was beaten by his father, who was a policeman, for wearing his mother’s shoes. He told Out Magazine, “When I came out it was because I loathed my dad so much–I couldn’t understand how you could, with an extension cord, beat a 45-pound kid just because he’s aware of his femininity.”