“All I said was my beautiful wife Tanya…we’re not coming. That’s it, and I gave the reasons,” the two-time nominee and Honorary Oscar recipient said this morning.
“February 28th, we’ll be at the world’s most famous arena, Madison Square Garden,” Lee added. “I’m going to a Knicks game.” Asked to give guidance to others in deciding whether to attend the awards ceremony, Lee shot back, “Do you. I’m not going. My wife’s not going. Everyone else can do what they want to do.”
No African-Americans were among the Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress or Supporting actors’ categories in last week’s Oscar nominations. The absence of Straight Outta Compton for Best Picture, Creed director Ryan Coogler and star Michael B. Jordan, The Hateful Eight‘s Samuel L. Jackson, Concussion‘s Will Smith, and Beasts Of No Nation‘s Idris Elba sparked dismay and anger. The Oscars have drawn fire over the past two years over the absence of minorities in glam categories, and this year’s lack of diversity among nominees brought back the social media hashtag #OscarsSoWhite.
Last November, in accepting an Honorary Oscar, Lee noted, “It’s easier to be president of the United States as a black person than be head of a [movie] studio.” This morning, he sat down on GMA and Stephanopoulos jumped right in with, “So you’re not going to the Oscars?”
After telling Stephanopoulos he was instead going to Madison Square Garden, he elaborated, “I sold my [Knicks] tickets, but after I put my essay out my wife and I decided we’re not going [to the Oscars] so I bought my tickets back.”
This year’s host, Chris Rock, is in a difficult position, Stephanopoulos said, taking another approach. “Chris Rock’s a grown…man,” Lee said. “He’s going to do what he wants to do. And I support, either way.”
Asked what he’d do if he had agreed to host the ceremony, Lee shot back, “There’s no ‘ifs’!”
So, you’re going to be neutral,” Stephanopoulos laughed, throwing in the towel.
“I’m going to be at Madison Square Garden,” Lee joked.
GMA network ABC, which broadcasts the Oscars, is getting a lot of mileage out of the outrage since the nominations announcement. One day earlier, four time Oscar host Whoopi Goldberg, now Den Mom on the network’s The View, complained on-air, “Why is this a conversation we only have once a year?”