‘Let People Decide for Themselves’: Spike Lee Questions What Happened on 9/11 In New Docu-Series

Many questions linger surrounding the horrific events of Sept. 11, 2001, that claimed a total of 2,977 lives across New York City, Washington, D.C., and outside of Shanksville, Pennsylvania. 

The attacks saw a total of 19 men commandeer four planes that morning and crash two into the World Trade Center towers and one into the Pentagon before the fourth was brought down by passengers who overpowered the hijackers.The Al Qaeda organization and its leader, Osama bin Laden, were fingered immediately as the culprits by American authorities. On May 2, 2011, bin Laden was killed in Pakistan by U.S. Navy SEALs of the U.S. Naval Special Warfare Development Group. However, in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, many conspiracies began surfacing regarding what really happened in the days leading up to one of the darkest days in New York’s history. Among those curious is veteran Hollywood director Spike Lee

Jury president Spike Lee attends the final screening of “OSS 117: From Africa With Love” and closing ceremony during the 74th annual Cannes Film Festival on July 17, 2021 in Cannes, France. (Photo by Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images for Kering)

During a recent interview with The New York Times for his latest docu-series, “NYC Epicenters: 9/11-2021 ½,” which looks into the events, accompanied by commentary from those involved, the director admitted he still didn’t buy the official explanation for Sept. 11. 

“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,” the New York native began. “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.”

The four-part docuseries spent a considerable amount of time looking into those reservations regarding exactly why and how the towers fell, a move Lee appeared to have done intentionally. “I mean, I got questions,” Lee explained. “I hope that maybe the legacy of this documentary is that Congress holds a hearing, a congressional hearing about 9/11.” (The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, a bipartisan congressional body, held 12 public hearings about 9/11 in the aftermath of the attacks.)

When asked why the same “make up your own mind” stance doesn’t apply when it comes to the COVID-19 vaccine or President Joe Biden being legitimately elected, Lee pointed to his history of making films that earned him criticism. 

“People are going to think what they think,” he said. “People have called me a racist for ‘Do the Right Thing.’ People said in ‘Mo’ Better Blues,’ I was anti-Semitic. ‘She’s Gotta Have It,’ that was misogynist. People are going to just think what they think. And you know what? I’m still here, going on four decades of filmmaking.”

“NYC Epicenters: 9/11 – 2021½” looks at the event of 9/11 and other challenges New York has faced in the 21st century. It also features first-hand accounts from those who lived it, including Jon Stewart, Rosie Perez, Jeffrey Wright, John Turturro, Chuck Schumer, Bill De Blasio, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and more. The series premiered on Aug. 22 and is available for viewing on HBO and HBO Max.

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