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'Bus' Stop

November 03, 1996

Re "Is Spike Lee Stuck in Reverse?" (by Todd Boyd, Oct. 20):

Professor Boyd points out early in his commentary that Spike Lee's latest feature, "Get on the Bus," displays a "range of male African Americans" that "refutes many narrow-minded perceptions of the black man," but he fails to recognize Lee's gesture of gratitude toward Michael Jackson, whom he once criticized, as an extension of this idea. There is no reason why the unhappy-to-be-black persona, as Jackson is oft labeled, shouldn't be represented among the collection of polar opposites Lee's film includes and, in effect, embraces as being acceptable.

Furthermore, one can hardly call Lee's recent films indicative of a downward spiral; rather, it is the maturing of a strong filmmaker. His previous "blacker-than-thou" attitude alienated more than it educated, and the messages of his first upstart films only reached those who were already intelligent enough to have known what he was trying to say long ago.

By putting one foot in the mainstream with films like "Crooklyn," "Clockers" and "Get on the Bus," yet still managing to make profound statements about the state of the African American community, Lee is sure to reach a broader audience, thereby waging a sneak attack on still-segregated Hollywood. Isn't that pure artistry full speed ahead?

LAURA D. JURADO

Cerritos

*

Spike Lee is the most important African American filmmaker of his generation and, as such, deserved an analysis that was written with more thought and substance.

Rather than provide the reader with a critical analysis of Lee's films, Boyd spent much of his time directing personal attacks at him. He began his commentary by promising to give the reader a "grasp on the peaks and valleys of Lee's body of work," yet made no mention of "Jungle Fever," dismissed "School Daze" as a "sophomore jinx" and described "Malcolm X" as "a 3-hour-and-20-minute excuse to see Spike dance the Lindy hop."

DONNA FRANKLIN

Los Angeles

*

Spike Lee is not a "once-groundbreaking" filmmaker. He is a groundbreaking filmmaker whose integrity and courage should be celebrated. The debt owed to him by our nation is incalculable. Can you name any other filmmaker in the world who has inspired 15 black men to fund a film? "Get on the Bus" is a window into the black psyche that frees black men from the kind of prison and shrinkage of people like Todd Boyd. Everyone I know who saw it cried like a baby.

NINA BUNCHE PIERCE

Los Angeles

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