Legendary filmmaker Spike Lee, directed two controversial videos for Michael Jackson as well as the eulogy on film to accompany the posthumous single "This Is It". Jackson and Lee collaborated on both videos for "They Don't Care About Us. The first version was filmed in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro and Salvador da Bahia, Brazil and featured local residents and the cultural music group Olodum. It showcased the both the crushing poverty and resilient spirit of the area. The second video depicted Jackson as a prisoner in a prison filled with discontent inmates. Scenes of Jackson handcuffed and protesting in the mess hall were interspersed with images of police brutality, genocide, execution, and bigotry. This duo of videos remains among Jackson's most powerful in his catalogue.
Lee continued his support of Jackson by staging a community-wide birthday party in honor of Michael in Brooklyn last August 2009. At the beginning of this year, Lee released a touching music video ode to Michael to accompany the single "This Is It." The video featured scenes from Michael's life and his hometown of Gary, Indiana. Now, Lee has penned a letter to his friend for the luxurious coffee table book, Opus: Michael Jackson. The Opus is a massive 26 lb. book containing photos, drawings, letters, and more celebrating Michael. He had considerable input into the work and it is the last official book to gain his approval before his passing.
Read the text of Spike Lee's touching personal letter to Michael below:
October 10, 2009
Last week I made a pilgrimage to your birthplace, Gary, Indiana. I stood
inside your family’s modest three-bedroom home on 2300 Jackson Street. I felt
the magic. It started there, nine kids plus your parents, jam packed, livin’ on
top of each other pursuing The American Dream. For this alone 2300 Jackson
should be declared a National Landmark. One has to go back to the beginning to
clearly see the entire journey. Gary, Steel town, Midwest, blue collar, hard
workin’, hard livin’, great work ethic and simple basic values. It’s there early
where you learned ‘you had to sing and dance like your life depended on it’
which it did. You and your family made the dream a reality. But as we all
finally learn (sooner or later) dreams have costs and costs have consequences. I
truly cherish the short time we worked together, visiting my home in Brooklyn,
huggin’ and kissin’ my newborn daughter Satchel, as if she was your own
daughter, our fantastic journey to Brazil to shoot the video for ‘THEY DON’T
CARE ABOUT US.’ I regret never getting to inform you that our video was directly
responsible for the great film CITY OF GOD being conceived and made. Michael,
your life touched people the world over you will never know. Michael, I’m one
year older than you, we grew up together. I had my Afro just like you. I wanted
to be like you. Wanted the cute girls to fawn over me the way they did you (the
girls were not going for it. They’d rather make goo-goo eyes at your pictures
plastered all over their bedroom.) At that young age I had no notion of what I
wanted to do in my life. You made me see the possibilities even though I could
not sing or dance a lick despite coming from a musical family. You, Jermaine,
Tito, Jackie and Marlon showed us the way. You guys were young Black boys like
us. Upon us was a new day, a new world and it’s on us to make the most of it. In
closing Michael, you checked out of here way, way too soon but while you walked
this earth in your physical form you changed it. You changed the World, changed
the Game forever.
May you rest eternally in Peace.
P.S. Brooklyn luvs ya!