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6.06.2008

"A guy like him should shut his face," said Clint Eastwood, aging badass, referring to Spike Lee's criticism of the director's lack of black soldiers in Flags of Our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima. According to Lee, who is beginning promotion for his own WWII outing, Miracle at St. Anna, "Many veterans, African-Americans, who survived that war are upset at Clint Eastwood. In his vision of Iwo Jima, Negro soldiers did not exist. Simple as that. I have a different version." Eastwood dismissed Lee's comment in a recent interview with the Guardian (which misquoted Lee's original statement), saying "The story is Flags of Our Fathers, the famous flag-raising picture, and they didn't do that. If I go ahead and put an African-American actor in there, people'd go, 'This guy's lost his mind.' I mean, it's not accurate." Because putting blacks in a historical film amounts to little more than affirmative action, apparently. Another Eastwood gem: "[Should I] make it look like a commercial for an equal opportunity player? I'm not in that game. I'm playing it the way I read it historically, and that's the way it is." He might as well have said Spike was pulling the race card. Oddly enough, two years ago, the Guardian ran an article detailing the 900 black soldiers who were at Iwo Jima, and made a direct correlation to the lack of blacks in Flags. 900 is a little bit more than the 'small detachment' mentioned in the Eastwood interview. From that article, Yvonne Latty (author of We Were There: Voices of African American Veterans):

"No one's asking for them to be the stars of the movies, but at least show that they were there. This is the way a new generation will think about Iwo Jima. Once again it will be that African-American people did not serve, that we were absent. It's a lie."
While blacks were mostly carrying ammunition in Japan, they were there, and to completely ignore the existence is totally irresponsible. My own grandfather fought in Europe during WWII, and if that weren't common knowledge in my family, I probably would have thought all soldiers ever (except for Bubba in Forrest Gump) were white. Update: A white woman on MSNBC's Morning Joe said Spike Lee was "really uppity." Either the person who wrote her lines hates her and wants her fired, or she's an idiot. Or both. Because, who even uses the word "uppity" anymore?

6 new thought(s):

La said...

It is the way of the world; pull the race card to show that pulling the race card is erroneous. No Clint, you didn't have to make a black man one of the main stars of the movies but you certainly didn't have to create not 1 but 2 pictures in which the entire war (and world apparently) was Whitewashed.

The Breaking Point said...

Clint's response suggests that he knew he was whitewashing history and he's upset because he got called on it. But what's even more disappointing to me is the expectation, stated or implied, that whites are going to tell the truth about history. Generally speaking they don't. It's 2008 and it's always been this way. Wake up.

G.D. said...

Wait. What's wrong with what Clint said? The Iwo Jima flag-raising DIDN'T have black people in it.

shani-o said...

Lauren- well said.

LH- This is an excellent point, which is why I'm glad Spike is making a film which tells the story from the perspective of black G.I.s

Demby - Semantics. Spike's complete comment addressed the fact that neither film had a single negro in them. Sure, they weren't raising the flag, but couldn't we have had a black person carrying a box of ammo up the beach? 900 black soldiers there and not one passed through a frame.

jameil1922 said...

WOW.... too bad black people didn't exist back then. wait. my grandfather did 2 tours in France in WWII. hmmm....

Stacie von Kutieboots said...

question: did the entire film look like an episode of friends/sex and the city and not have a black person in it? if that's the case, then clint is dead ass wrong.

i feel what you're saying but, the 4 men who raised the flag, weren't black.