Boots alleges that Spike yelled at him due to his criticism.
In August of 2018, musician and director Boots Riley took to social media to express his disdain for Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman film, accusing the veteran director of pushing pro-law enforcement propaganda in his latest body of work.
The critique took on the form of a three-page statement in which Riley asserts that Lee fabricated story notes to push a police officer as a protagonist.
"It's a made-up story in which the false parts of it to try to make a cop the protagonist in the fight against racist oppression," Riley wrote in the essay. "It's being put while Black Lives Matter is a discussion, and this is not coincidental. There is a viewpoint behind it."
In his critique, Riley did make sure to note that Spike Lee is a “huge influence” on his career, revealing that he was the reason he went to film school in the first place and that he was also the first person he sent a demo tape to when Lee still had his 40 Acres And A Mule Musicworks.
In an interview with the Times UK, Spike Lee issued a respectful response, defending his choice to portray the main character of Ron Stallworth, a black cop who infiltrates a local chapter of the KKK, a protagonist.
“Look at my films: They've been very critical of the police, but on the other hand I'm never going to say all police are corrupt, that all police hate people of color. I'm not going to say that," Lee said. "I mean, we need police. Unfortunately, police in a lot of instances have not upheld the law; they have broken the law."
According to Boots, though, that isn’t all Spike Lee had to say. On Saturday, while walking the red carpet for the Independent Spirit Awards, Boots Riley revealed that at an industry event, Lee shouted a response of choice.
“He yelled at me as he walked away, saying 'I'm Miles Davis, you're Chet Baker!" Riley tells Variety. "Then I saw him at the DGA luncheon and he said, 'Come here' and said ‘Squashed? Squashed.'"
Clearly, neither men should be too caught up in criticism as Riley's Sorry To Bother You took home the award for Best Feature Film at the Independent Spirit ceremony while Spike's BlacKkKlansman is nominated for six total Academy Awards at this year’s ceremonies.