Spike Lee thinks becoming jaded and tapping out of the voting process is a bad idea.
“I hope that (viewers would) be motivated to register to vote. The midterms are coming up, then this guy in the White House is going to run again, and what we’re going through is demonstrated, I think, is full evidence (of) what happens when you don’t vote, when you don’t take part in the process,” Lee told the news source.
“I know a lot of people who say, ‘F politics, they’re all crooks, whatever.’ But to me, that says, defeatist attitude. We just have to be smarter on who we vote.”
Lee has always openly condemned Trump. But during his CNN interview, he refused to utter the president’s name, opting to call him “Agent Orange” instead, a moniker that refers to the poisonous orange herbicides that the U.S. military used in warfare, but it also more likely refers the president’s skin tone.
“They have a screening room in the White House,” Lee said. “I would love ‘Agent Orange’ and David Duke (a former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan) to see this film in the White House. I’m not coming, but they’re in it; they should see the film.”
Lee’s latest movie shines a light on the true story of Ron Stallworth (played by John David Washington, Denzel’s son), a black Colorado Springs cop who infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan in the 1970s. Actor Topher Grace plays Duke, who has a large role in the film.
The movie ends with a montage of footage from last year’s alt-right white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, alongside clips of Trump, who infamously summed up the violent clashes between anti-racists and neo-Nazis by saying there were “very fine people on both sides.”
During the screening in Cannes, Lee slammed Trump’s response to the Charlottesville protests.
“That motherfucker was given the chance to say we are about love, not hate,” Lee said. “And that motherfucker did not denounce the motherfucking Klan, the alt-right, and those Nazis motherfuckers. It was a defining moment, and he could have said to the world ‘not the United States,’ that we were better than that.”
Lee also told CNN that he feels the only way to resolve racism in the U.S. are by having open — and truthful — dialogues about it.
“The reason why I feel that race is still a big discussion in this country (is) because we’ve never really honestly dealt with slavery,” he said.
Lee said that the only way “we can move forward” is by frankly discussing “the foundation of this country,” even if people feel uncomfortable about it.
“The founding fathers owned slaves. Unless we deal with those truths, it’s not going to matter. This country was [built] upon the genocide of native people and slavery. That’s the backbone.”
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story indicated “BlacKkKlansman” won the Cannes Film Festival’s Palme d’Or prize. In fact, it won the Grand Prix.