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?