Best Adapted Screenplay winner for "BlacKkKlansman" Spike Lee attends the 91st Annual Academy Awards Governors Ball

Spike Lee Apologizes After Defending Woody Allen in New Interview

Leave defending Woody to Scarlett Johansson.
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Spike Lee is currently promoting his new film Da 5 Bloods, which premiered this weekend on Netflix. In an interview with New York City radio station WOR’s In the Morning show, the topic of cancel culture was brought up, specifically in regard to fellow New York director Woody Allen.

Lee said, “I’d just like to say Woody Allen is a great, great filmmaker and this cancel thing is not just Woody, … And I think when we look back on it we are going to see that — short of killing somebody — I don’t know that you can just erase somebody like they never existed.” Lee added, “Woody is a friend of mine, a fellow Knick fan, so I know he’s going through it right now.”

Ah yes, the classic Hollywood pitfall: defending Woody Allen! Lee’s comments join the ranks of other celebrities like Scarlett Johansson, Stephen King, and Jeff Goldblum (to name a few) who have decided to jump to Allen’s defense.

Allen of course, has long been accused of molesting his adopted daughter Dylan Farrow, but while the allegations have existed for nearly 3 decades, they have done little to hamper or cancel Allen’s career. The director continues to churn out films at a brisk pace, and A-list actors are still lining up to star in said films.

Lee quickly apologized for his remarks via Twitter, writing “I Deeply Apologize. My Words Were WRONG. I Do Not And Will Not Tolerate Sexual Harassment, Assault Or Violence. Such Treatment Causes Real Damage That Can’t Be Minimized.”

Lee’s apology was appropriate and thoughtful, but reminds us that Woody Allen is in fact the poster boy for the cancel culture fallacy. His career has barely suffered under this scrutiny, and he continues to win awards and earn accolades for his work. Even his autobiography, which was canceled by the Hatchette Book Group after a company walkout, was eventually published by Arcade Publishing in March.

So in absence of any tangible consequences, why do people continue to cape for Woody Allen? Many on Twitter were wondering why Lee would defend Allen as well:

It’s a bummer, because Spike Lee is one of the most talented directors of his generation, and Da 5 Bloods has been getting excellent reviews. By supporting Woody Allen, Lee is shifting a conversation that should center on him and his work to his gross friend.

Lee also discussed the George Floyd protests, saying “What’s uplifting to me is that people are marching all over this God’s earth for Black Lives Matter, … There’s definitely something in the air… I think we’re in a very special moment in the history of the United States of America.”

(via Entertainment Weekly, image: ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)

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Chelsea Steiner
Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. An pop culture journalist since 2012, her work has appeared on Autostraddle, AfterEllen, and more. Her beats include queer popular culture, film, television, republican clownery, and the unwavering belief that 'The Long Kiss Goodnight' is the greatest movie ever made. She currently resides in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband, 2 sons, and one poorly behaved rescue dog. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.