The issues between Spike Lee and Boots Riley over BlacKkKlansman have been a well-documented and oft-discussed thing at this point. But thankfully, the feud seems to be officially over.
At the Independent Spirit Awards, Riley told Variety that when the two met in person, the feud escalated. At an Academy event, Lee even yelled at Riley as he passed by.
“He yelled at me as he walked away, saying ‘I’m Miles Davis, you’re Chet Baker!'” Riley said. “…[But] then I saw him at the DGA luncheon and he said come here and said, ‘Squashed? Squashed.'”
It all started back in August 2018 when Riley released an essay detailing how he felt BlacKkKlansman was a reductive part of Spike Lee’s film canon.
“It’s a made-up story in which the false parts of it try to make a cop the protagonist in the fight against racist oppression. It’s being put while Black Lives Matter is a discussion, and this is not coincidental. There is a viewpoint behind it,” he wrote.
“The real Ron Stallworth infiltrated a Black radical organization for 3 years (not for one event like the movie portrays) where he did what all papers from the FBI’s Counter Intelligence Program (Cointelpro) that were found through the freedom of information act tell us he did–sabotage a Black radical organization whose intent had to do with the very least fighting racist oppression,” he continued. “For Spike to come out with a movie where story points are fabricated in order to make Black cop and his counterparts look like allies in the fight against racism is really disappointing, to put it very mildly.”
At the time of Riley publishing the essay, Lee said he wouldn’t respond.
“I’m a young chap, a young man aged 61, but before I was an even younger chap. Now when I get a hint that this stuff is maybe going to dilute the message of my film, I know it is not going to do me any good to comment,” he said. “…Look at my films: they’ve been very critical of the police, but on the other hand, I’m never going to say all police are corrupt, that all police hate people of color. I’m not going to say that. I mean, we need police. Unfortunately, police in a lot of instances have not upheld the law; they have broken the law. But I’d also like to say, sir, that Black people are not a monolithic group. I have had Black people say, ‘How can a bourgeois person like Spike Lee do Malcolm X?'”