Throughout this semester, I think that the most common misgiving that people have vocalized in regards to Spike Lee is his perception on black women. At best, he engages in bad feminism, and at worst, he hates black women. He does not afford black women the same complexities that he gives men, and he’s more inclined to redefine black masculinity over discussing problems relating to black women. The movies that elicited this response the most were Mo’ Better Blues, School Daze, and his most recent film Chi-Raq, and there were also problems with female representation in Malcolm X and Get On The Bus.
With Chi-Raq, there was a common outcry of women, myself included, that felt Lee was painting women only as sexual agents. They were sexualized or viewed as maternal, which constrained their ability to grow as character.
When Lee was asked a question relating to his treatment of black women on Sway in the Morning, he had an emotional response.
9:40 – 10:40 for Black Women Question
He ultimately stated that Teyonah Parris, Angela Bassett, and Jennifer Hudson are all empowered women in the film. He also noted that for his movie She’s Gotta Have It in 1986, he was met with the same concerns. People were split on whether this was a film that empowered women or fell into the stereotypical trope of sexualized black women.
So Lee is comfortable with his depiction of women, and as they say, “It’s not the mistakes that define us but how we choose to correct them.”I was curious to see what Lee’s newest projects are going to be, and found a list of them on Backstage, one of Hollywood’s publications to stay up to date on casting calls.
They were kind of terrifying to be honest. Chi-Raq is on there along with 6 other projects. Half of those smaller projects dealt with a primary plot involving women.
The Fresh B*tch From Bel Air, Muse, and Lady Killlers are all terrible. Lee continues to cast women as vain, superficial, and rude, and they always involve a man to define the woman as the Other.
These projects and Lee’s film all break the Bechdel test, which is used to look at the presence of women. It looks for three criteria:
- The fim has to have at least two women in it who have names
- They must talk to each other
- They must talk to each other about something besides a man
It’s frustrating to see a filmmaker who is so innovative and brilliant to commit these mistakes and be okay with the way that he portrays women even in 2015. Do you think that he will change and make more progressive films on women?