Spike Lee is among those upset about it Rolling stone co-founder Jann Wenner’s recent controversial choice to leave women and black musicians out of his new book The masters.
During a wide-ranging interview with Lee at the 2023 New Yorker Festival on Saturday: New Yorker editor David Remnick recalled how the pair were talking a few weeks ago and Lee was “exercised” about the Wenner controversy.
“It’s just emblematic of how often black people, brown people and people of color are overlooked for their genius, for their skills and hard work,” Lee said during the speech at the New Yorker Festival.
When reminded that Wenner had explained these omissions in an interview with The New York Times that seemed to spark resistance against the US Rolling stone co-founder, by saying that no female or black artist was “articulate” enough to be included, Lee suggested that this may have been the thing that particularly annoyed him.
“Wow! There you go,” Lee said as Remnick summarized the “stated” apology.
“Think of all the people you left out,” Lee continued. “I mean Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, they didn’t invent rock ‘n’ roll.”
In the Time interviewwhen asked about his selection process, after Wenner noted in the introduction The masters that female and black artists were not in his zeitgeist, Wenner said, “When I talked about the zeitgeist, I was referring to black artists, not the female artists, okay? Just to get that accurate. The choice was not a conscious one. It was quite intuitive over the years; that’s how it just fell together. The people had to meet a few criteria, but it was just kind of my personal interest and love for them. As for the women, none of them were eloquent enough at this intellectual level.”
When The times‘ David Marchese, who previously worked for Rolling stone, suggested that Joni Mitchell might have been there, Wenner said, “It’s not that they’re not creative geniuses. It’s not that they’re unclear, but have a deep conversation with Grace Slick or Janis Joplin. Please be my guest. You know, Joni wasn’t a rock ‘n’ roll philosopher. I don’t think she passed that test. Not because of her work, not because of other interviews she did. The people I interviewed were the kind of rock philosophers. From black artists – you know, Stevie Wonder, genius, right? I suppose if you use a word as broad as ‘masters’ then the error lies in the use of that word. Maybe Marvin Gaye or Curtis Mayfield? I mean, they just didn’t articulate at that level.
He said that “for the sake of public relations” he could have included a black and female artist “who was not up to the same historical standard, just to deflect this kind of criticism.”
The day after the interview, Wenner was removed from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation’s board of directors and apologized for his comments.
“In my interview with The New York Times“I have made comments that diminished the contributions, genius and impact of Black and female artists and I sincerely apologize for those comments,” he said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter. “The masters is a collection of interviews I’ve done over the years that I think best reflected a sense of the impact of rock ‘n’ roll on my world; they were not intended to represent the entirety of music and its diverse and important creators, but to reflect the highlights of my career and interviews that I felt illustrated the breadth and experience in that career. They do not reflect my appreciation and admiration for countless totemic, world-changing artists whose music and ideas I revere and will celebrate and promote as long as I live. I fully understand the inflammatory nature of poorly chosen words, deeply apologize and accept the consequences.”
Elsewhere during the hour-long conversation with Lee and Remnick, the filmmaker gave the audience at New York City’s Webster Hall just a few hints about his upcoming Colin Kaepernick docuseries for ESPN.
Lee said the project, which he says will be a five-part series, is “a long time coming” because “the story just keeps going.”
The Oscar-winning writer-director says he currently has hundreds of hours of footage from interviews, including with Remnick, who shared his discomfort at being interviewed for 30 to 45 minutes with a camera that seemed like two and one was half. meters from his face.
“You were great,” Lee said.
Remnick: “We’ll see.”
The Kaepernick project was announced in February 2022 as part of the former NFL quarterback and activist’s first deal with ESPN parent company Disney.
The series, which Lee is directing and producing, is expected to see Kaepernick tell his own personal story about his life story, including growing up as a mixed-race son of white adoptive parents; his football success in high school, college and with the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers; and the controversy that preceded his departure from the 49ers and the alleged blackballing from the league after he took a knee during the national anthem to protest racism and police brutality.