Sorry to Bother You director Boots Riley has weighed in, offering more much needed criticism to the landscape of critical acclaim that surrounds Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman. Riley took to Twitter to present his detailed critique, opening with the following disclaimer: “This is not as much an aesthetic critique of the masterful craftwork of this film as it is a political critique of the content of and timing of the film.” In his three-page informal essay, Riley uses the memoir of the real-life Ron Stallworth, his own interactions with Kwame Ture and the Black Liberation Party, and the current fight by Black Lives Matter to put an end to police brutality and murder to solidify his main point.
Riley states that in our contemporary moment to produce a film that markets itself as a real story, but relies on fabrications to paint the police as heroes against racism is irresponsible. The intentionality of his argument, especially his use of hard facts, sheds new light on not only what appears to be the weakness of Lee’s writing but the politics of even creating such a narrative in a time where black and brown persons are being killed at the hands of those who Lee is attempting to portray as heroes. Spike’s response, where he explains that we need the police and not all of them are corrupt, seems to simultaneously miss and hit the mark of Riley’s critique.
Did you enjoy Lee’s latest film?
Is Riley’s critique valid?
Is Lee’s portrayal of the cops problematic?