“It Was Just Totally Stupid” Spike Lee Talks Rape Scene In “She’s Gotta Have It”

May 15, 2014  |  

Source: 40 Acres & A Mule Filmworks

Hollywood loves to paint Spike Lee as the angry, black man director. But in this interview with Deadline, he proves to be quite introspective. He spoke about everything from fighting the studios to make Malcolm X to racist film critics who believed and wrote about their theories that Do The Right Thing would incite race riots in theaters across the country. But one of the most poignant moments of the interview,came at the very end when the interviewer asked him about his regrets.

Initially Lee said he didn’t have any and then he retracted his statement.

Lee: My wife has told me on occasion that I can be my own worst enemy, and she is a smart lady. But I don’t really have any regrets. Check that. You know what my biggest regret is?


LEE: The rape scene in “She’s Gotta Have It.” If I was able to have any do-overs, that would be it. It was just totally…stupid. I was immature. It made light of rape, and that’s the one thing I would take back. I was immature and I hate that I did not view rape as the vile act that it is. I can promise you, there will be nothing like that in She’s Gotta Have It, the TV show, that’s for sure

If you recall the in the film, Nola Darling, the protagonist, is dating and sleeping with three men. Though she’s open and honest about the predicament, it presents a bit of a problem with her beaus.

One night one of the boyfriends, Jamie comes over. Now, Jamie has told Nola all along that he’s not a fan of the arrangement. Instead of breaking up with her, he comes over to her apartment with the intent to seduce her. He ends up raping her.

The scene has left many audience members and critics feeling everything from uneasy to outraged for decades now, considering it was Lee’s first film. Many felt like Lee was sending the message that since Nola was sleeping with three men simultaneously that she was loose and somehow deserved this type of treatment.

I’m happy to know that after 30 years and a lot more maturity, Lee sees the error in his ways. And don’t think I say this as a rationalization. We can all agree he was wrong. The thing is though, the topic of rape is just now, like within the last three years, making its way to mainstream, public discussions. Today, there is still a lot of ignorance about what constitutes rape, so I can imagine that the climate thirty years ago was far worse. Either way, it’s good that Lee acknowledged this so future audiences and future filmmakers don’t look at this movie and think the type of message he sent back then was ok.

What do you think about Spike Lee’s comments to Deadline? Were you bothered by the rape scene in She’s Gotta Have It?


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  • Vandellish

    I actually believe Spike here. As a kid who’d snuck in the theater and watched this movie that scene stuck out as pretty foul and fkd up.
    I always thought he’d made a mistake casting himself as the largely fictional character ‘Shorty’ in Malcolm X as well as not being truthful about who introduced him to Islam. It was X’s brother.

  • Robert

    She was a hoe and unfortunately that is an unspoken reality in a hoes life. ..

    • Robert’s Mom, the Hoe.

      Robert…you are stupid, and, your MOMMA is a hoe. The end.

  • briana456

    So basically “She’s Gotta Have It” was just code for “She’s asking for it”. Nicely done douche bag.

    • jarvis302003

      She was asking for it…douche bag.

  • Ty

    Though a painful scene to watch.. I think I’ve always understood the intent, which was Jamie’s attempt to de-masculinize Nola. This was the early 80’s, women didn’t have the voice nor stature that Nola effortlessly displayed. She was unconforming, and Jamie couldn’t handle it. And typically rape is about power, so i think that was the point.. but it’s a scene that really didn’t belong. Kudos to Spike for admitting, and ALWAYS regretting keeping it in the movie.

    • OSHH

      I always understood that scene as well as uncomfy as it was to watch,, he wanted to break her, to take away her power since she would not conform to his wants, not unlike some males out here in the real world that try to break women down…… ” folk don’t like nobody being too proud or too free”.

      • jarvis302003

        ” not unlike some males out here in the real world that try to break women down”

        As if there’s no FEMALES out there that try to break men down and emasculate them. *rolls*

    • jarvis302003

      ” And typically rape is about power”

      No, it isn’t. Rape is about sex, not about power.

  • Chanda

    I think that most movies with rape scenes are disturbing to begin with but that wasn’t the most vile rape scene I’ve ever seen.

    • Shawnna Ramsey

      I think one of the worst I’ve seen was in Tyler Perry’s “Temptation” because most people don’t consider it a rape scene.

  • Ms. Kameria

    I will admit that wasn’t my favorite scene either, and I always cringe watching it, but I’m glad that he is mature now enough to admit his mistake.

  • Momma Dee Tha Q.U.E.E.N

    His 1st movie was his only mistake, but he admits he was young & wet behind the ears so i understand.