Let's get up to speed real quick. Spike Lee recently criticized Clint Eastwood for not including any black soldiers in his two films Letters from Iwo Jima and Flags of Our Fathers. Eastwood then told Spike to 'shut his face', which in turn led Spike to say, "we're not on the plantation." This will probably cause Eastwood to re-retort with something even more bad ass like: "I don't give second warnings" or "Today is a good day to die". Most likely, the spat will then dissolve into "your mom doesn't shuts her mouth", etc.
I've reflected on this issue, and you may be surprised to learn that I side with Spike on this one.
For one, he practices what he preaches. In Do The Right Thing, a white John Turturro detests the neighborhood 'like a sickness' because of the African-American presence. But Spike doesn't just make a point to say only whites have a problem with the blacks. Turturro is Italian in the movie and represents that enture ethnicity. Spike also shows Puerto Ricans and Koreans bigoted sentiments. It's an inspiring message of racial inclusion.
Spike's message about historical films isn't off. Black people should be in every movie if they co-existed in proximity to the central non-black thematic focus of the film. Under these new criterion, here are some films we now take issue with:
Memoirs of a Geisha: Who says a Geisha has to be Asian? Plenty of black women have been placed in subservient positions to men, but only the sassy outspoken ones get film play (See: Diary of a Mad Black Woman and anything Eddie Murphy). Wait actually the definition of a Geisha is :
a Japanese woman trained as a professional singer, dancer, and companion for men.
Ernest Goes to Africa: OK, kudos to John R. Cherry III, the man who is responsible for giving the world eight Ernest films, for correctly casting the Africans with black actors. However upon a second viewing, I found his portrayal of the tribesmen to be stilted and one-dimensional. I mean look at the movie poster. I'll give Cherry a pass on this one as well if the film's intention was allegorical. To symbolize the colonization of Africa by the bumbling, idiotic white man.
Ghostbusters: Yes I realize there was a black ghostbuster in the film (Ernie Hudson), but black ghosts were woefully underrepresented. And what race was Slimer supposed to be? There aren't any green people as far as I know. A wasted opportunity for affirmative ghost action.