“As you can tell, I don’t say his name,” Spike Lee told the hosts of The View Friday after referring to President Donald Trump only as “Agent Orange” while promoting his new Vietnam drama, Da 5 Bloods.
Oh, we’ve noticed.
The Oscar-winning filmmaker’s appearance on The View came only hours after another video interview he did on Thursday’s The Daily Show (er, The Daily Social Distancing Show, as its been called the past few months).
“From the very beginning we’ve been fighting for this country, from the beginning!” Lee told host Trevor Noah while discussing Crispus Attucks, the first person killed during the Boston Massacre (and thus the American Revolution). “We’ve been fighting for this country, as you said, that doesn’t fight for us. We’ve been loving this country that doesn’t love us. So when this guy Agent Orange talks about our brother Colin Kaepernick [the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback seemingly blackballed from the NFL for kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality] not being patriotic, that’s some b-s. … It’s about the same thing that people are marching all across the streets in this world.”
Lee’s presidential nickname goes beyond The View and The Daily Show. The filmmaker has used the moniker, referencing both the president’s artificial tan and the long-controversial chemical weapon used by U.S. military forces in Vietnam, in virtually every interview he has done promoting Da 5 Bloods. He also used the term making the press rounds for his last film, BlackKklansman, which won the famed provocateur his first competitive Academy Award, for Best Adapted Screenplay. “Agent Orange had a chance to condemn the [Klu Klux] Klan, Alt-right, Neo-Nazi [movements], but he didn’t do it,” Lee told Yahoo Entertainment about Trump’s highly scrutinized “very fine people” comments after the Unite the Right rally and killing of counterprotestor Heather Heyer in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017.
Da 5 Bloods follows four black Vietnam vets (Delroy Lindo, Clarke Peters, Norm Lewis and Isaiah Whitlock Jr.) back to the Southeast Asian country to recover the remains of their fallen squad leader (Chadwick Boseman) as well as a case of gold they buried after salvaging it from a crashed helicopter. Lindo’s PTSD-suffering Paul has become an apologetic, MAGA hat-sporting Trump supporter, and is ridiculed by his friends and fellow vets for voting for the “Klansman in the Oval Office.”
Related Video: Spike Lee Speaks on His Vietnam-Era Inspired Film, ‘Da 5 Bloods’
“I mean, he has those tendencies,” Lee remarked about Trump in an interview with British GQ. “He sided with the Klan in Charlottesville. He’s sympathetic to their cause.” The filmmaker adds that Trump will “go down in history as the worst president of the United States of America.”
As for the choice to make Lindo’s character a Trump supporter: “I mean, all these bloods, these middle-aged black men, they don’t all think alike. So we thought about what could be the most extreme thing we could do — and that was an Agent Orange supporter.” Lee admits he knows a few African-American Trump supporters in his own life. “I mean, I don’t know if they voted, but, yeah, there are black people, a very small percentage, but there are black people who are drinking the Agent Orange Kool-Aid!”
The Do the Right Thing writer-director has been an outspoken opponent of Trump for years, but has amped up his attacks on his most recent press tour, especially as the president continues to draw widespread criticism for his divisive rhetoric and response to the #BlackLivesMatter protests in the wake of the police murder of George Floyd.
3 Brothers-Radio Raheem, Eric Garner And George Floyd. pic.twitter.com/EB0cXQELzE— Spike Lee (@SpikeLeeJoint) June 1, 2020
Lee name drops “Agent Orange” casually, with media outlets left to clarify the reference each time.
“Today we got this guy in the White House, Agent Orange … who is doing the same thing,” Lee told The Hollywood Reporter in drawing comparisons between Trump and politicians who mislead the American public during the Vietnam War. “Lies, bald-faced lies. I mean, it's amazing to see this stuff on CNN, where with your own eyes, you could see him say something, and then a day later, he says he never said this bulls**t he said."
In response to Trump’s jobs report last week where the president bizarrely claimed it “was a great day for George Floyd,” Lee fired back to the Chicago Tribune: “What do I say to that? You know what? I’ll give you the initials. Hold on. I’m dyslexic, so I gotta write it out. ... What do I say to that? S-T-F-U! That’s what I say to Agent Orange: S-T-F-U.”
“That’s why when Agent Orange talks about, ‘If you don’t like America you can leave…’ F--k that!” Lee he said to Vanity Fair. “We built this motherf***er! I mean, we’ve been nothing but patriotic! And this great, great country has not really made its promise yet to people of color.”
“Agent Orange, if you didn’t guess,” the publication states, “is his nickname for Donald Trump.”
Da 5 Bloods is now streaming on Netflix.
Watch the trailer:
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