Spike Lee Predicts the Future

The director of “Da 5 Bloods” talks about why his old movies still resonate, whether an awards snub even matters and how it’s not his job to end racism.

March 11, 2021

Spike Lee has a knack for seeing what’s ahead. After Eric Garner’s death in 2014 and George Floyd’s death last year, Mr. Lee’s 1989 film “Do the Right Thing,” which culminates in a violent confrontation between a Black character and a white police officer, was seen as downright prophetic.

“We had the crystal ball,” he says, “and this is not the first time this happened in my four-decade career.”

In this episode of “Sway,” Kara Swisher and Mr. Lee talk about the prescience of his movies and his latest feature film, “Da 5 Bloods,” which follows four Black veterans of the Vietnam War as they hunt for treasure. Plus, he discusses the future of Hollywood and streaming, whether he’d work with the New York Police Department again, and why he wrote a pro-MAGA character (even though he refuses to say Donald Trump’s name).

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Credit…Illustration by The New York Times; photograph by Elias Williams for The New York Times

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Special thanks to Shannon Busta, Liriel Higa, and Jamie Collazo.

“Sway” is produced by Nayeema Raza, Heba Elorbany, Matt Kwong, Daphne Chen and Vishakha Darbha, and edited by Nayeema Raza and Paula Szuchman; music and sound design by Isaac Jones, mixing by Erick Gomez and fact-checking by Kate Sinclair and Michelle Harris.