Spike Lee doing the right thing for the ruling class


SPIKE LEE, famous for his film about Black American radical Malcolm X, is often thought of as some sort of a 'radical'. This cleverly cultivated but insubstantial image has taken a big knock. Lee has decided to help the US military recruit young black men and women.

If you can't get a decent job, don't worry. Uncle Sam will teach you killing skills and how to obey orders without question. You can become a hitman for the ruling class; you might get to visit foreign countries, meet the locals and then kill them. Just like happened in Vietnam, Grenada, Guatemala, Panama..

Lee submitted a bid for, and was given, the job to direct six multi-million dollar adverts for the US Navy, to be screened on "youth-orientated" TV networks like MTV and in cinemas before the Star Wars blockbuster. The ads are showing on TV during the NBA basketball play-offs and will be broadcast before the season's big football games.

"I'm very grateful to be given the shot", said Lee, "because there are some backward people in the world who have a very narrow vision of who I am, of what I'm about, and what I can do".

The campaign is aimed at 17 to 21-year-olds. While the navy and Lee are reluctant to admit it, it is clear that the ads are pitched squarely at young African-Americans, who in the last few years have shown less interest in fulfilling their expected role as the US military's preferred cannon fodder. Last year, the US Navy fell almost 7,000 recruits short of its target.

This article is from Workers Solidarity No 58 published in Oct 1999