Michael Rapaport and Spike Lee’s feud over gentrification has been an ugly one. In February, Spike Lee went on a curse-filled rant about Brooklyn, N.Y., becoming more gentrified by the day. During a speech at Pratt Institute for a Black History Month panel, Lee talked about the other side of gentrification.
“Here’s the thing: I grew up here in Fort Greene. I grew up here in New York. It’s changed. And why does it take an influx of white New Yorkers in the South Bronx, in Harlem, in Bed-Stuy, in Crown Heights, for the facilities to get better?” Lee said. “The garbage wasn’t picked up every motherf—king day when I was living in 165 Washington Park. P.S. 20 was not good. P.S. 11. Rothschild 294. The police weren’t around. When you see white mothers pushing their babies in strollers, three o’clock in the morning on 125th Street, that must tell you something.”
“You can’t just come in when people have a culture that’s been laid down for generations and you come in and now s—t gotta change because you’re here? Get the f—k outta here," Lee told the crowd.
During an appearance on HuffPost Live, Lee reiterated his views about gentrification even more, in response to comments Rapaport made about the filmmaker. In an interview, Rapaport said Lee had no right to talk about gentrification, especially since he left Brooklyn for the Upper East Side of Manhattan.
“I mean, Spike lives on the Upper East Side. If the people that donated money to Spike Lee’s last film saw the apartment that he lives in, they’d bug out. So I don't know what he’s talking about,” the actor told HuffPost Live.
Rapaport went on to say that gentrification has made Brooklyn better. But one has to ask for whom?
Lee didn’t take Rapaport’s comments lightly, and fired back at the actor who appeared in his 2000 film Bamboozled.
“First of all, motherf—king Rapaport doesn’t know what he’s f—king talking about. Here’s the thing … what Michael Rapaport left out, because he’s stupid, he did not talk about the people who can no longer afford to live in Williamsburg, who can no longer afford to live in Fort Greene, who can no longer accord to live in Clinton Hill,” Lee lamented.
Lee also took a few shots at Rapaport’s career in the process.
“Look, he’s not even a good filmmaker, first of all. He’s not even a good filmmaker. He’s not even a good filmmaker, so I don’t know what he’s talking about. I could live on the moon, Brooklyn is still going to be inside of me," Lee said.
And now, it’s all downhill from there.
Rapaport returned to HuffPost Live on Tuesday to promote an upcoming film, and of course Lee was once again the topic of conversation.
Rapaport referred to Lee as a “s—t stain” who plays the race card. He even went in on Lee’s career as well.
"When’s the last Spike Lee film you saw?" Rapaport asked host Marc Lamont Hill. “Nobody goes to see them s—ts.”
“I’m going to see him sooner or later … I wanna see you say 'You’re stupid and your movie sucks' right to my face,” Rapaport stated.
Lee may want to watch his back as he walks the streets of gentrified Brooklyn, because Rapaport doesn’t seem like he’s backing down.
Yesha Callahan is editor of The Grapevine and a staff writer at The Root. Follow her on Twitter.