Spike Lee is no stranger to controversy, but with the original cut of his HBO documentary series NYC Epicenters 9/11➔2021½, he’s downright courting it. In a recent interview with The New York Times, Lee told the world that he has questions about how and why the towers fell, espousing some of the debunked conspiracy theories that the Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth have been pushing for the last twenty years or so. When asked why he devotes so much time to these conspiracy theories in the series, Lee says that he hoped there would be a congressional hearing about 9/11 before wading into some more tricky and truther-y waters:
The amount of heat that it takes to make steel melt, that temperature’s not reached. And then the juxtaposition of the way Building 7 fell to the ground — when you put it next to other building collapses that were demolitions, it’s like you’re looking at the same thing. But people going to make up their own mind. My approach is put the information in the movie and let people decide for themselves. I respect the intelligence of the audience.
As Slate put it, the Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth are “responsible for peddling some of the most pernicious and long-running lies about the 9/11 attacks.” Even more concerning, Slate says that Lee spends 30 minutes at the end of doc “relitigating arguments that have been debunked a thousand times” and presenting conspiracy theorists in dialogue with credible scientists as if they’re both valid. But, of course, this isn’t Loose Change. Heck, it’s not even TV. It’s HBO. This means that people are going to notice one of the world’s most famous filmmakers going full-on truther in his much-hyped documentary series.
But, it looks like the heat can melt Lee’s resolve because the filmmaker is “back in the editing room” and reworking the final episode of his series. In a statement released today, Lee said, “I’m Back In The Editing Room And Looking At The Eighth And Final Chapter Of NYC EPICENTERS 9/11➔2021½. I Respectfully Ask You To Hold Your Judgement Until You See The FINAL CUT.”
Well, that’s a relief. It’s probably not in HBO’s (or society’s) best interest to give 30 minutes of air time to Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth founder Richard Gage. If you can believe it, Gage also has fingers in other pies, like COVID-19 conspiracy theories. All these conspiracies generally lead to the same place: antisemitism. And wouldn’t you know it, Gage is into that, too, according to Slate.
As mentioned, Spike Lee is no stranger to controversy. He even points to it in the Times interview: “People are going to think what they think. People have called me a racist for Do the Right Thing. People said in Mo’ Better Blues I was antisemitic. She’s Gotta Have It, that was misogynist. People are going to just think what they think.” Of course, he doesn’t mention the time the New York Police Department paid his advertising agency roughly $219,000 for a campaign, but why remind people of that right now?
The first episode of NYC EPICENTERS 9/11➔2021½ premiered early this week, with new installments debuting each Sunday.