Spike Lee is no stranger to controversy, but pre-emption is new for him. His incendiary work has inspired scandals both righteous (Do the Right Thing frightened a complacent America with its vision of urban unrest) and regrettable (the Jewish club owners in Mo’ Better Blues attracted charges of antisemitism), and now, his new docuseries NYC Epicenters 9/11 —> 2021˝ has landed him in the same hot water that never seems to cool.
In a recent New York Times profile, Lee raised plenty of eyebrows by discussing his skepticism about official narratives surrounding the events of September 11 2001. He went so far as to invoke the conspiracist’s favorited catchphrase – “jet fuel can’t melt steel beams,” he said in so many words – in defending a section of the fourth installment that dips into unfounded theorizing. The public reacted in a small uproar, and just like that, 30 minutes featuring conspiracy group Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth had vanished from the final edit sent to critics.
Though gun-shy higher-ups at HBO may have applied some pressure, in a statement sent to the press, Lee projected an all-is-well message: “I’m Back In The Editing Room And Looking At The Eighth And Final Chapter Of NYC EPICENTERS 9/11 —> 2021˝. I Respectfully Ask You To Hold Your Judgment Until You See The FINAL CUT.”
The offending content has been excised, and yet it’s difficult to assess the sprawling whole of this nearly eight-hour project without that context. Even if he hadn’t left in one segment that sees an interview subject suggest that the hijacked Flight 93 crashed in a Pennsylvanian field because it was shot down rather than overtaken by the passengers, there’s a pervasive air of skepticism to Lee’s politicized postmortem. In his assessment of two landmarks in institutional failure, he lays out the ample cause to distrust the government and their messaging. From there, it’s only a hop, skip and a jump into tinfoil-hat territory.
Tedious hipster Charles Bramesco makes sure his bread is buttered by sneering throughout the article but they seem to be very scared of some "unfounded theorizing". If it's so absurd leave it in and let people make their own mind up.