Spike Lee is sorry about that rape scene he wrote into She's Gotta Have It nearly 30 years ago, probably more so now that the show is poised for Showtime series reboot. Not to mention, you know, the expanding power of us women folk; feminism is a hot topic and we're running elections and entertainment these days.
In an interview with Deadline Hollywood, Lee boasted having no professional regrets but then amended his answer.
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? … 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.
Interesting how one needs to mature to realize that a violent act like rape is "vile." Lee's words made me realize how much American views on gender and sexuality are changing. As feminism becomes more popular, for better or for worse, depending on your opinion, women's issues have become a lightening rods. In a way, we can thank the War on Women. Because some of the things politicians have said are so ridiculous — Remember Todd Akin's famous quote? 'If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole [pregnancy] thing down.' Oh, word Todd? — that society was forced to pay attention and choose a side, the idiots or science. And with that spotlight comes more attention toward issues like rape, sexual harassment, gay marriage and trans social justice, all issues that would've gotten activists laughed out of the room back in the 1980s when Lee's first big film debuted.
In Lee's She's Gotta Have It scene, Nola is an artist who refuses monogamy and is simultaneously dating three wildly different guys. Jamie, the maturest of the trio, pulls back on their dates because she refuses to choose one man until one night she calls him over with plans to seduce him. He gets angry at her attempt to use him for sex and rapes her, saying "Is this what you want?" while she cries out for him to stop. It's horrible but the viewer is left feeling like "she asked for it" as one critic wrote back in 1987.
Now we know that sexual violence like the depiction in She's Gotta Have It can't be so wantonly placed in a cinema or television and certainly not under the guise of 'the polyamorous girl gets her just desserts by the nice guy.' The wrath of the feminist mafia is swift and fierce. Welcome to the future, it's better here.
Image via YouTube.