Spike Lee on Oscars: ‘I Never Used the Word ‘Boycott”

Spike Lee is promising to spend the night of the Academy Awards next month across the country at a New York Knicks game in Madison Square Garden. But the director told ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Wednesday that he has not called for a broader boycott of this year’s Oscars despite his criticism of the lack of diverse nominees in this year’s crop of nominees.

“Here’s the thing. I have never used the word boycott,” Lee told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos. “All I said was my beautiful wife Tanya, we’re not coming. That’s it, and I gave the reasons. I never used the word ‘boycott.'”

Lee added: “I’m not going. My wife’s not going. Everyone else can do what they want to do.”

Earlier in Wednesday’s “GMA” broadcast, Lee spoke with anchor Michael Strahan about his upcoming Michael Jackson documentary for Showtime, “Michael Jackson’s Journey From Motown to ‘Off the Wall.’ “

During that interview Lee reiterated about the Academy Awards: “I’m not trying to lead a movement.” However, he also noted that each year there are usually 20 slots in the Oscar race for actors. “The last two years, the score is 40 to zip” for diversity in the nominations field, Lee said.

Actress Jada Pinkett-Smith has joined Lee in vowing that she would not attend the Feb. 28 ceremony in protest of the surprising lack of nominations for artists of color. Her husband, Will Smith, had generated Oscar buzz this year for his role in the football drama “Concussion.”

Lee received an honorary Oscar in November for his contributions to the industry. In accepting his Governors Award kudo, Lee highlighted Hollywood’s ongoing problem with diversity behind the scenes. “It’s easier to be president of the United States as a black person than (to) be head of a studio,” he said.

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  1. Janet Lorraine Hughes says:

    For Ms. Smith, Mr. Smith, and Mr. Lee, I offer the definition of boycott according to Merriam-Webster: “to refuse to buy, use, or participate in (something) as a way of protesting: to stop using the goods or services of (a company, country, etc.) until changes are made.” Given the tone and wording of the statements made by Ms. Smith and Mr. Lee published in the Los Angeles Times on Monday, January 18, 2016 and on Good Morning America, I stand by LA Times author David Ng’s use of the word “boycott” as well as my use of the same word in my comments.
    Janet Lorraine Hughes, MLIS
    Los Angeles, California

  2. Dot says:

    It is not true that “all blacks” are in on this boycott and I’ll tell you why; I know quite a number of people, like me, who couldn’t care less about these privileged, and rich Hollywood people. I believe Jada was upset because Will got snubbed, and that’s happened to a lot of actors regardless of their race. I think this boycott is ridiculous because these same actors are still going to be in the entertainment business and still auditioning for roles and making millions of dollars whether they win an Oscar or not.

  3. Albert says:

    It’s easy for Spike Lee to talk about boycotting, er, not attending the upcoming Oscar ceremony — he already collected his honorary lifetime achievement award at the Academy’s Governor’s Ball a few weeks ago!

    (I wonder how he’d feel if that recognition might have had less to do with his body of work than with Oscar voters being essentially browbeaten or blackmailed, so to speak, in deference to politically correct racial sensitivity?)

    Actions speak louder than words. If the state of things is so troubling to Lee, he should put his so-called money where his ever-obnoxious mouth is: Reject the honor and give the Oscar back!

  4. fredw says:

    I’d respect you if you were in Africa helping out on Ebola. Or in urban Chicago working to help people. But instead, you pick a vanity event.
    That’s the problem with affluent blacks. Bitching and whining over a vanity event, instead of taking the trouble to do something meaningful.

  5. fredw says:

    I idolized this director. But I’m getting so sick of this crap.

  6. YourSilenceIsCompliance says:

    Dear Spike Lee,
    I will most likely, never be able to thank you in person. I just wanted to send out into the Universe, my eternal gratitude for your work. Through, your tireless diligence and critically honest intellectual examination of the truth; and complimented by your ability to effectively communicate through the Cinematic Arts; you have provided the most powerful tools for showing, and not telling, a truth which often cannot be understood or shared, with the kind of people who refuse to see beyond the biased news and myths of a racist narrative. I am better able to help dispel the myths, shared by people who lack empathy, through your films, than any book or sharing of what I have witnessed.
    I grew up in St. Louis. A white female in a city, openly racist. By 1988 I was sixteen….and acutely aware that my home was an active genocide against the Black Community. At University City High school I met friends, of both races. I watched the result’s of nonviolent incidents unravel very differently among young friends getting into innocent trouble. But, race and economic status…are a murderous Justice System.

  7. Brian says:

    If the academy awards disappeared tomorrow who would notice or care?

  8. Kevin says:

    Here’s an idea, if you want the recognition, EARN IT

    • KronosViking says:

      Wow.. this is what our country has become… Give me something for free..not because I earned it, but because I view myself as different or special.. Everyone is all pissed at Stacey Dash for making the comment that “African Americans segregate themselves by having Black History month, BET, and their own award show”.. I get it that African Americans are made at her because they feel she is not supporting her “own” people.. Then they call her names…like “Uncle Tom”..or “she is not fully black”.. I am Hispanic and there are no Latino nominees up for anything either.. Do we care? NO!!!.. I think there is so much backlash on the Oscars and what Stacey Dash said because deep down they know it’s true.. They get so offended and cry to the media because they are having to defend something they know they do. Everyone wants to be treated equal and have the same playing field, and yet when they don’t get their way, they point out it must be a race issue.. I think Will Smith or Samuel L. Jackson are great actors and maybe they did deserve to be nominated…but I think these two PROFESSIONAL actors..NOT PROFESSIONAL BLACK ACTORS.. would rather be nominated for their skills and not just because the Academy needed to appease the African American community.. Going forward..I wonder if any African American Actor/Actress who gets nominated in the future will wonder..”Did I get nominated because of my talent or the color of my skin?”..”Did they nominate me because they are scared of the backlash from Spike Lee, Jada Smith, NCAAP, Jesse Jackson, or Al Sharpton?”.. I feel sorry for anyone of color now… Because of these idiots who throw up the race card, other people now have to wonder why?

    • Wendy says:

      The American version of the movie OLD BOY from Spike Lee was a very bad rippppp offfff…..also the mind control/lies images of the CGI PLANES in the Twin Towers in the case of the 9/11 HOAX(google/you tube)in the American version of the Movie OLD BOY was hard to see….shame on you mr.Spike FREEMASON Lee

    • Wendy says:

      @Kevin?GET LOST!…and the idea on itself earns recognition…RICK JAMES biographic movie from Spike Lee,is a great idea….don’t blame my brains,please kevin BOY…

  9. Jim Rachels says:

    )—Invoking the Rev. Martin Luther King’s legacy on his birthday, two prominent African-Americans announced Monday that they will boycott this year’s Academy Awards over a lack of diversity among nominees.

    Filmaker Spike Lee and actress Jada Pinkett Smith posted separate messages Monday saying they would not be attending the February 28 ceremony. The Oscars have drawn criticism after an all-white slate of major nominees was announced Thursday for the second year in a row.

    “We cannot support it and [I] mean no disrespect … But, how is it possible for the second consecutive year all 20 contenders under the acting category are white? And let’s not even get into the other branches,” Lee wrote on Instagram. “Forty white actors in two years and no flava at all. We can’t act?! WTF!!”

    I’m Sorry Mr. Lee BUT YOU DID SAY BOYCOTT!!!!!!!!!!!!


    • CNU says:

      I have little respect for Spike Lee due do his behavior over the years, but to be completely fair to him, if you read the statement he posted, it clearly does not contain the word “boycott”.

  10. 85wzen says:

    If you make a movie like say All About Eve and if it had a cast of only Black and no White you would win the Academy Award very easily. You can’t just give the Greatest Award to some dumb piece of shit just because of a persons skin… you’ve gotta have the goods in this one…

  11. Cath says:

    Interesting that this explanation is being given on the network with the most to lose if there was a boycott.

  12. BillUSA says:

    Let’s see if I got this right…

    If it looks like a boycott, smells like a boycott, feels like a boycott, tastes like a boycott and (most importantly) sounds like a boycott, then it must not be a boycott.

    Okay Spike, we believe you…SMH.

  13. anthony says:

    Spike Lee’s obsessive ringing of the diversity bell is still deafening! Spike Lee’s uses his words as a cook does with adding the same ingredients of food as he does with his words of his patent hate for whites. Case in point, quoting his statement: “It’s easier to be president of the United States as a black person than (to) be head of a studio,” If Obama had never been never elected President he would use the same statement only reversing it; “It’s easier for a black man to be head of a studio, than to be the President of the United States.” Case in point his Machiavellian twisting denial and specific intention in: “Here’s the thing. I have never used the word boycott,” Is an obvious back door reason by Mr. Lee in keeping his relationships with the Academy members and the ‘white studio heads’, in order that he and his films are not “boycotted” by those he castigated publicly. Query, are Mr. Lee’s demands that more blacks should become members of the Academy because they’re black? In order for the black members to control the voting of the nominees? Mr. Lee knows that there are rules for anyone to become a member of the academy in all branches which have been in place since the Academy’s inauguration. Those rules have been if effect for membership entries in each different branches from actors, directors, producers etc. Spike Lee also represents himself as a writer! Query; does he expect or believe that anyone who says: “he and his wife would not be attending the Oscar ceremony.” While at the same article cascading his patent reasons and remarks against the Academy and the white studio heads for my attending; isn’t that the same meaning as the word boycotting?

  14. Donna says:

    He went to Kickstarter and appealed to All the public to fund his movie. So be happy the public supported you!

  15. neemsemmi says:


  16. mtrout says:

    The problem isn’t with the Academy it’s with casting. In the words of the late Alan Rickamn when asked about his lack of Oscar love he said, “Actors don’t win Oscars, roles do.” I couldn’t agree more, the problem is minorities aren’t getting cast in the Oscary movies. Now part of this could be because many movies vying for oscars are historical epics or biopics which generally have to be cast a certain way.

  17. Chizz says:

    It’s real easy for rich people to get on their soapbox and talk shit about racism, but when it might affect their bank account they shut up quick.

    Yeah, you don’t hear any of these courageous advocates for diversity talking about the REAL PROBLEM of income inequality, dying middle class, and poverty, do you?

  18. Robert McFly says:

    Who cares. Spike is a hack director. Tired of all these sour grapes. Am I the only one who remembers 2 years ago 12 YEARS A SLAVE swept actor, actress, director and picture?

    • mtrout says:

      Actually 12 years a slave lost director and actor it won picture and supporting actress and i think one of the screenplay awards.

      • RS says:

        Yeah Chiwetel Ejiofor really should have won. His performance was amazing and the role was extremely award worthy. 12 Years A Slave was a great movie. Tough to sit through due to the content, but I think a necessity. It showed the grittiness of slavery.

  19. Jim Ponsoldt says:

    i think once again the media has made too much of spike’s comment. the comparison with beauty pageants is apt. i will watch the oscars, even while, as usual, i think (as many people always do) some of the best performances have not been nominated. i would prefer that the nominating process be left to a carefully chosen but rotating committee which must actually see and consider all the potential contenders–this is done for some literary prizes. and then voting on the nominees opened even more than already has been done.

  20. John Miller says:

    Right, Spike, whatever you say!

  21. Jj says:

    Make a best black category to make blacks happy.


    Spike NEVER used the word boycott.
    He does not have to use the word.

    The Oscars will be BOYCOTTED anyway, just like silly beauty pageants.

    The entire Academy system and concept is an anachronism, with a token, out of touch, figurehead leader.

    That is all.

  23. Ben says:

    So he wants an affirmative action ratio, or quota on nominations, and then it will have to apply to who actually gets the awards. We could pretty much enter it all on a spreadsheet, and excel can tell us who wins the Oscars every year.

  24. Wendy says:

    Give me a Call…Spike!!

  25. Wendy says:

    Can you imagine a movie about:RICK JAMES…….what a GREAT story,music,funk,drugs,love etc..etc..etc…OSCARS?YES!

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