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Spike Lee's Enraged Reaction to 'Green Book' Winning Best Picture

Jadzia Samuel Monday 25 February 2019

It would not be an Oscar Awards show if something had not happened to spark some sort of outcry; in 2017 we had the drama with the 'La La Land' and 'Moonlight' mixup, the year before was the outrage at the lack of racial diversity. This year's controversial moment came when Peter Farrelly's 'Green Book' was awarded with Best Picture. Spike Lee, who's film 'BlackKklansman' was running in the same category, stood up in rage, waving his arms, and attempted to storm out of the theatre, before being detained at the door and returning to his seat.

Green Book

While Lee's enraged reaction is controversial in itself, perhaps appearing ungracious or a sore loser, it seems that his loss in the category is not what sparked such rage; instead it appears that it was the acquisition of the award by 'Green Book' specifically that angered Lee, a film which has been plagued with controversy due to its racial undertones. With other films running in the Oscars such as 'Black Panther', 'If Beale Street Could Talk', and Lee's own 'BlackKklansman', all of which address the issues of racism in the United States, 'Green Book' has been criticised for adhering to racial stereotypes, being described as a "white saviour" film.

'Green Book' follows the journey of a black pianist (Mahershala Ali) and his prejudice chauffeur (Viggo Mortensen) through the United States during the 1960s. It has been criticised for using Ali's character to portray a stereotypical "magical negro", whose job is to reverse the prejudices of the white man with whom he is travelling. Ali won the award for Best Supporting Actor for his role.

Many people on Twitter have joined Spike Lee's enraged reaction to 'Green Book' winning Best Picture:

Oscar So White... Forever?

Lee has been nominated in the category for Best Picture once before back in 1989 for the film 'Do the Right Thing', which he lost to 'Driving Miss Daisy'. Referring to this past snub, he commented on the recent loss saying, "every time somebody is driving somebody, I lose". This year he also missed out on the award for Best Direction, which was instead awarded to Alfonso Cuarón for 'Roma'. Lee is one of only six black filmmakers to have been nominated in said category, none of whom have won.

Spike Lee Oscars 2019

While he was snubbed in those two categories, Lee did win his first competitive Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay with 'BlackKklansman'. His acceptance speech was extremely political, touching heavily on the topic of Black History Month and the upcoming 2020 elections, saying, "Before the world tonight, I give praise to our ancestors (...) Let's all mobilise. Let's all be on the right side of history".

To see a full list of Oscar winners and nominees, click here.

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