Spike Lee on Islam: ‘The U.S. is Always Going to Need a Boogie Man’

In a lengthy interview with the Daily Beast‘s Marlow Stern, filmmaker Spike Lee spoke out on America’s relationship with the Islamic world, his new film Da Sweet Blood of Jesus, and the on-court woes of the New York Knicks.

“Here’s the thing: the United States is always going to need a boogie man,” Lee said of the relationship between America and Islam. “The Native Americans, black people, immigrants, the Nazis, Russia and the Cold War, and now it’s Islam. You can tell by James Bond movies who the villain is!”

Lee said he was “not surprised” that the media coverage of the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attack outweighed that of the slaughter of thousands of people by the Boko Haram terror group in Nigeria.

“People are going to write about the stuff that they feel is important,” Lee told Stern. “That’s the way it goes. A country that’s far off like Africa, where a bunch of people get killed isn’t, ‘Paris, France.’ I don’t think it’s just, but that’s the way it is.”

Lee also opined on the aftermath of the killings of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, saying “it’s important to also not have a short memory.”

“Everybody also saw the Rodney King video, and what happened? It was moved to Simi Valley, and the cops got off at first,” Lee explained. “It was only when the Feds came in that they went to jail, and that’s what we hope will happen in Ferguson, and in Staten Island.” Lee continued:

The district attorneys, the grand juries, and the police have to work together. These district attorneys depend on police to get their job done, so when cases like Michael Brown or Eric Garner come up, you have to be an idiot to think that district attorneys are going to work to put a cop or cops away. It’s not going to happen. I agree with what Rev. Sharpton says, which is that there needs to be a special district attorney who comes in who’s not in cahoots.

Lee’s Da Sweet Blood of Jesus, a remake of Bill Gunn’s 1973 cult favorite Ganja & Hess, follows a professor (Stephen Tyrone Williams) who awakens with a thirst for blood after being stabbed by a ceremonial Ashanti dagger. Lee told Stern of his film:

It’s a metaphor for addiction. And what are we addicted to as human beings? Sex, alcohol, money, and power. Assimilation might be there, but it’s not something that was at the front of my mind. African-Americans have been here for 400 years, so it wasn’t strange to me to have a prominent, wealthy, intelligent black man that drives a Rolls-Royce and has an apartment in Central Park West and a place in Martha’s Vineyard. That’s not an aberration to me.

Lee also reserved some criticism for his beloved New York Knicks.

“No one predicted that we’d be in the midst of the worst New York Knickerbocker team in franchise history,” Lee lamented.

Da Sweet Blood of Jesus is available now on Vimeo on Demand in advance of a theatrical run beginning February 14. Despite its title, Variety recently called the film “oddly bloodless,” with “ultimately little sense of purpose.”


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