Teenagers in Spike Lee's favorite Brooklyn neighborhood are turning on the filmmaker, saying he is selling out the area by advertising his line of vodka there.
Bedford-Stuyvesant is a notoriously crime and drug-ridden neighborhood. But it has been on the upswing in recent years, thanks in part to Lee setting his movies there and being a big booster of the area.
It is still primarily a low-income area, which are often targets for billboards and posters advertising such products as cigarettes and liquor. The Children's Aid Society wanted to find out what kind of advertising was in the area. So it sent ten teenagers out this summer to do a survey. They found that posters of Lee's Brooklyn-themed Absolut Vodka dominated the 56 alcohol ads they found.
"You're not supposed to be promoting stuff like that in areas that can barely afford food, 17-year-old Shenel Gunnis told the New York Daily News.
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Lee's limited-edition label features the stoop of a Brooklyn brownstone and reads "A Spike Lee Collaboration."
"I'd be like, 'Why? Do you understand what you're doing ... that you're putting up an ad for liquor and you know there's an alcoholism problem here?'" Frank Moore, 19, said. "My thing with Spike Lee is you should use your prestige and position of power to help the problem, not add on to it."
Survey organizer Robert Cornegy was stunned the teens had such strong feels about Lee's ads.
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"They're being inundated with alcohol advertising in this neighborhood," said Cornegy. "They recognized an icon to them was responsible for some of the ads."
The Daily News reports Lee hung up on a reporter who called him for a comment.