President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama taped a video greeting to help director Spike Lee honor the 25th anniversary of his racially charged drama Do the Right Thing’s release, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The director’s subsequent role in a racially tinged news story, however, went unmentioned.
Lee recalled the creation of the film at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art Friday night. Do the Right Thing captured the tensions that boil over during one hot summer day in a diverse section of New York. Critics rightly hailed the film for its unflinching portrait of social disorder. Who knew that 20-plus years later the film’s director would stoke tensions personally by tweeting the address of someone he mistakenly thought was responsible for the death of black Florida teen Trayvon Martin.
That social media move sparked a lawsuit against the director, whose career remains a shadow of what it was back in 1989.
On Friday, the Obamas focused instead on how they saw the film together on their first date.
President: “We had eaten lunch at the Art Institute of Chicago, gone for a little walk and then I took her to this new movie everybody was talking about, directed by a guy that not that many people had heard of, but it was supposed to be pretty good.”
President: “So Spike, thank you for helping me impress Michelle, and thank you for telling a powerful story. Today, I’ve got a few more grey hairs than I did back in 1989. You don’t look like Mookie anymore. But Do the Right Thing still holds up a mirror to our society, and it makes us laugh, and think and challenges all of us to see ourselves in one another.