For more than 15 years, filmmakers Spike Lee and Quentin Tarantino have feuded publicly over the use of the N-word in Tarantino’s films. “Quentin is infatuated with that word,” Lee complains. “What does he want to be made—an honorary black man?” Without missing a beat, Tarantino strikes back: “As a writer, I demand the right to write any character in the world that I want to write. And to say that I can’t do that because I’m white […] is racist.”
Based on such exchanges, it might seem odd to pair Lee and Tarantino in a college film course. But actually, the ongoing animosity between the directors only serves to draw them closer, and the two have more in common than perhaps they will admit (even Netflix and Amazon Prime couple the directors’ films for their users). With that in mind, we will juxtapose nine feature-length works of Lee and Tarantino, considering specifically the directors' auteur statuses, depiction of heists, attraction to the abject, and (re)visions of genres and gender. Further, on their own, students will explore works by Tarantino and Lee not screened in-class so that they may deepen their understanding of the directors’ styles, intents, politics, etc.