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Spike Lee’s 10 Worst Female Characters (List By Brandon Wilson)

Slow news day today… stumbled upon this post from 2009, back when the site had about 10 readers :). Thought I’d repost since there are so many more of you regulars now, who probably haven’t seen it.

I do that from time to time, as some of you may have already noticed. But anyway, here ya go…

My good man, self-proclaimed cinephile, aesthete, dad, unrepentant liberal, resolute agnostic, English teacher, filmmaker-manqué, and once co-host of the previous incarnation of my podcast, The Obenson Report, the Genius Bastard himself, Mr Brandon Wilson, decided to utilize Twitter to count down his list of Spike Lee’s 10 Worst Female Characters. And since Twitter only allows a 140-character limit per post, he had to keep his analysis succinct, spread out over several Tweets.

I told Brandon that I’ll post each entry on his list, as he Tweets them, and combined them all in this post.

Read on below… broken up into individual Tweets :):

I hope this countdown proves to be more than just a festival of hateration. I have a lot of respect for Spike. But we have to look at things in the cold harsh light of truth, not through the gauzy filter of admiration. Hopefully, this list will motivate some of you to take a 1st or 2nd look at his films. Thanks to all who replied to this countdown. Much appreciated.

At number 10, I am going with Betty Shabazz, portrayed by Angela Bassett in Spike’s 1992 magnum opus Malcolm X;

Here’s why: Malcolm is a perpetual student, an eternal protegee. I think his wife should have played a far bigger role in his evolution;

Yes Betty gets the one knock down drag out scene, but beyond that she is just the Good Wife and nothing more;

I owe a debt to @ChrisMacDen who recently tweeted about this. He knew Dr. Shabazz, and said she deserved better than she got in Malcolm X;

I love Spike, but women have always been his Achilles Heel. Betty Shabazz (the character) is 1 sad example of that;

Spike’s women are either, duplicitous, martyrs, or beside the point. He also falls into the madonna/whore dichotomy far too often;

And what’s interesting is that from the very beginning he has been dogged by charges of misogyny/sexism;

One huge caveat to all of this is Crooklyn. Largely written by his sister Joie, this film features many great female characters;

-Troy, Joie’s stand-in, is easily the greatest Spike Lee heroine ever. She was played by Zelda Harris, who (sadly) it appears stopped acting;

Crooklyn also features Alfre Woodard as Carolyn, Troy’s formidable doomed mother. And Aunt Song is one of my favorite supporting characters;

But take away Crooklyn and it is hard to find many rounded, complex women who aren’t traitors, whores, or beatific martyrs;

#9
For the ninth worst female character in Spike Lee’s oeuvre, I pick Clarke Betancourt, played by Cynda Williams in 1990′s “Mo’Better Blues.”
Clarke an ambitious jazz chanteuse, is a great example of the ‘don’t trust women’ ethos Spike espouses in so many films.
She is one point of a love triangle, and in that arrangement she also comes to be the whore to Joie Lee’s madonna.
Indigo ‘saves’ Bleek, thereby fulfilling her madonna destiny, whereas Clarke sleeps w/ Bleek’s rival, presumably to further her career.
Clarke isn’t evil. She’s just limited due to Spike’s indifference. She cares when Bleek is injured. But there isn’t much to her.
There isn’t much to her, that is, except for ambition and self-regard. Her refusal to become a martyr is, I think judged harshly by the film.
More than once, you will here me say “it’s a shame she didn’t go on to do more” when discussing these roles & actresses.

#8
Let’s get no. 8 on the countdown of Spike Lee’s worst female characters. I pick Sloane Hopkins, played by Jada Pinkett Smith in Bamboozled.
Sloane starts off well. She seems to be bright, capable, and a go-getter. She is the ass’t to Pierre Delacroix, a hapless TV executive.
But Sloane is sorta baffling. When Pierre hatches a plan, she’s in on it, then spends the rest of the film acting as though she isn’t.
Also Spike (and this I think is most telling) has Pierre her boss, call her pet names, at work. What is this, Mad Men?
Spike really blew a great opportunity in Bamboozled to craft a relationship between equals. Instead he reveals very late that they had sex.
Worse yet, Sloane had denied that such a thing had ever happened, which makes her seem like a liar and some1 willing to screw 4 success.
Sloane isn’t a misogynistic caricature. But the way she’s treated by the film speaks volumes on how Spike sabotages his women characters.
That’s the shame, almost all of these women in Spike’s films represent missed opportunities.

#7

At number 7, we have 2 characters who I believe are inextricably linked. From ‘Malcolm X,’ the combine of Laura (Theresa Randle) & Sophia (Kate Vernon). This gets us into dicey territory. Immediately some will say these characters are from the autobiography; therefore we can’t blame Spike. One of the tenets of the Auteur Theory is that even if the director is adapting the material s/he is still in effect taking ownership of it. In other words, Spike may not have created Laura, Sophia, or Betty Shabazz, but his handling of them is still revealing. Laura is the ‘good girl’ who young Malcolm rebuffs in favor of the ‘bad girl’ Sophia thanks to the siren call of interracial sexy time. In the book, X said he always blamed himself for good girl Laura’s subsequent descent into wickedness. So here, we have yet another madonna-whore dynamic, except here, the madonna becomes a whore, quite literally. And as Sophia is last seen as a reformed bourgeois hausfrau, the whore becomes a madonna, sort of. And also, there’s an ancillary nature to the characters. They are there for no other reason but to serve the story. A big problem in movies. Spike’s character Shorty feels far more rounded and less schematic than either Laura or Sophia. Then there’s the matter of interracial relationships. In his early work, Spike takes a dim view of them, and that colors (sorry) things. In his early work, interracial relationships were ALWAYS a sign of moral turpitude. So it is impossible for Malcolm & Sophia to really have a layered relationship, or for Sophia to be a complex character.

In Jungle Fever, Snipes and Sciorra more or less staged a revolt. They acted against Spike vision of Flipper & Angie’s affair. Angie Tucci, Sciorra’s character in JF, may be one of Spike BEST women characters, ironically. But Sciorra had to fight for her character. Angie isn’t perfect. But she has nuance. And she was (almost) Flipper’s equal in the story, not just there to further the narrative. The shot of Angie returning home, defeated, heartbroken, is one of the saddest images in Spike’s filmography. It’s hard to not to feel like she’s being punished not just by society/family, but by the filmmaker, in the end. FYI, Spike’s formative incident was the one-two punch of having his mother die & having his dad move a white woman in too soon afterwards. This brought us the many martyred moms in his cinema (twice played by Lonette McKee), his daddy issues, and his antipathy to the swirl. So Laura & Sophia really get at his big issues: madonna-whore, women as bystanders, and white women as symbols of corruption.

Having outlined some of Spike’s hang-ups with women, let me end for now w/ two others: The Jezebel & The Sapphire. Both are negative female archetypes that we see more than once in Spike’s work. For those that didn’t major in Black Studies, Sapphire connotes a perpetually angry, castrating, mean black woman. If I’m not mistaken, Sapphire was originally a character in Amos N’ Andy. Academics then extended her name to the archetype. I’m sure the poet/author of Push (Precious) adopted that as her sobriquet b/c of the name’s connotation. I’ll mention a Sapphire and a Jezebel as we continue our countdown.

#6

Number 6 in the Spike’s worst list: Tina, from Do The Right Thing, as played by Rosie Perez. Tina is a Sapphire, really. She isn’t horrible. Just underdeveloped. She has every right to be difficult, but I don’t think the director empathizes with her. So she becomes shrill. The actress may have something to do with that. Enough said on Tina.

#5

Fatima Goodrich, Kerry Washington in She Hate Me, one of Spike’s worst films. Fatima, is a deceiver (the protag catches her in bed w/ another woman), mercenary, and wholly unsympathetic. She’s a Jezebel. Worse yet, Fatima strikes one as a bit too much the product of Spike’s over-heated erotic imagination. Male writers often hatch female characters from their carnal desires, but a major character needs a little more to her than that. James Elroy clearly fashions his women from his raging id, but they get to be their own person too. Fatima speaks to the flaws of the film; it’s a chaotic, unfocused mess which will always be Exhibit A when Spike is tried for self-indulgence.

#4

Renata, played by Valentina Cervi, in ‘Miracle At St. Anna‘ from last year. She’s another one of those underwritten betrayers. Renata is a comely Italian woman who lives in a village ravaged by WWII. She becomes the objet d’amour of two of the AfAm soldiers. Without any real set-up she kinda betrays the good one for the bad one. And she’s particularly brazen about it. It is a very strange plot twist. It reduces her character from being a fully formed person to just a pawn of the plot. Once again, Spike seems to be espousing the “don’t trust ‘em” ethos. I don’t buy that it’s just a matter of poor plotting. This is too consistent to just be happenstance. And yes, Spike didn’t create Renata himself, but the Auteur Theory tells us that it doesn’t matter if he didn’t write it himself.

#3

Mary D’Annunzio, played by Anna Paquin in “25th Hour.” She’s a singularly unlikeable young Jezebel with a dash of Lolita thrown in. Mary is the character I believe Natalie Portman was initially slated to play in “25th Hour” before she quit. Mary is selfish, not particularly moral, and a vulgarian. She is just the hot young piece meant to tempt her teacher. It’s hard to find a woman in the Spike Lee oeuvre who has no redeeming value or complexity on the level of Ms. D’Annunzio.

#2

LaLa Bonilla, played by the sublime Rosario Dawson in He Got Game. LaLa is the teen girlfriend of Jesus Shuttlesworth, the best hi school B-ball player in the US. She has an agenda. LaLa is two-faced, deceitful and mercenary (sound familiar?). She two-times Jesus, and she tries to manipulate him into picking a college - (correction) signing w/ an agent that will give her a cut which she seems to feel she’s entitled to as Jesus’ GF. LaLa isn’t even a particularly skilled manipulator. She’s a caricature of the gold-digging ghetto girl. A half-assed Cleopatra. Spike kinda sorta atoned for LaLa four years later when he cast Dawson in 25th Hour as Naturelle Rivera, Monty Brogan’s (Ed Norton) GF. Naturelle has nuance and complexity. The film creates tension as to whether or not Naturelle betrayed Monty, which is almost like Spike copping to the fact that he’d gone to that well way too many times. And yes, I agree w/ all who say an inept femme fatale is more misogynist & worse than a skilled one. So Naturelle cancels out LaLa, but still, LaLa is number 2. And now for number 1.

#1

Number 1 has to be Opal Gilstrap (played by Raye Dowell) in “She’s Gotta Have It,” doesn’t it? Opal is a friend of the sexually liberated (but deeply hetero) Nola Darling. Opal is a lesbian. You see where this is going? Opal hates men. She seems to have 1 thing on her mind: getting Nola in bed. When Nola is sick, Opal comes to nurse her…& come on to her. So Opal is nothing but a stereotype of the rapacious lesbian trying to recruit. Nothing more to the character. Opal is particularly galling since she appeared in his first film. His Achille’s Heel revealed himself immediately. Spike was called on it. He has admitted that the character was ill-conceived and that she’s 1 of the many things he’d change about SGHI. It’s unfortunate that from the beginning, an artist so consumed w/ righting wrongs of representation got off to such a start.

A word about Girl 6. Interesting mess, but I think Theresa Randle gives, what should’ve been a star-making performance. Judy, or Girl 6, is one of his better, more rounded female leads. The film is such a mess that Randle’s work has been forgotten. Too bad.

I hope this countdown has been more than just a festival of hateration. I have a lot of respect for Spike. But we have to look at things in the cold harsh light of truth, not through the gauzy filter of admiration. Hopefully, this list will motivate some of you to take a 1st or 2nd look at his films. Thanks to all who replied to this countdown. Much appreciated.

Alright… there ya have it. Brandon Wilson’s countdown of Spike Lee’s 10 Worst Female Characters, via his Twitter page!

Feel free to follow Brandon at twitter.com/Geniusbastard, or find him on Facebook at facebook.com/brandon.d.wilson.

32 comments to Spike Lee’s 10 Worst Female Characters (List By Brandon Wilson)

  • MiddleMyatt

    Became familiar with Brandon’s work back-in-the-day through the Obenson Report; always insightful and on-the-money with his commentaries. And the Spike article is further proof of that. Brandon’s knowledge and appreciation of film is broad, deep, and an inspired joy to all with whom he shares it (but I guess that can be said of everyone associated with Shadow And Act as well)! Thanks for posting, Tambay.

  • This list is on point. It has always bugged me that while Spike is so outspoken for how black people are represented on film, his representations of women have often been flawed and pretty sexist…

    Guess black women don’t count.

    I did not miss the camera and lame jokes lingering on a woman’s breasts in the otherwise decent heist movie, The Inside Man.

    • “while Spike is so outspoken for how black people are represented on film, his representations of women have often been flawed and pretty sexist…

      Guess black women don’t count.”

      The sensitive side of me. father of a daughter, TOTALLY agrees with you, but the grown man side of me appreciates the “lingering” :-/ *being honest*

      In fact the best (only good?) thing about ‘She Hate Me’ was the sex scenes…jus sayin…

    • トヴィタ

      It’s kind Of like during the presidential primaries, when polls/pundits would say Women will vote for Hillary, while Blacks will vote for Obama. Apparently the concept of a black woman is too complex to comprehend, let alone represent.

  • “I have a lot of respect for Spike. But…

    But what… forget what else you have to say because we know where this is going?

    …”But we have to look at things in the cold harsh light of truth, not through the gauzy filter of admiration.”

    Oh yeah, and tell me why that’s true? More importantly, what’s the purpose, and what are the rewards?

    Well…”Hopefully, this list will motivate some of you to take a 1st or 2nd look at his films”

    Really!? Is that right? Hopefully we’ll be motivated to watch Spikes Lee’s 10 worst females characters – 1 or 2 more times… after we read this? Yeah, riiiiiight. Now I understand the motivation and purpose behind this tweet list. It’s so obvious.

    “I hope this countdown proves to be more than just a festival of hateration”

    And guess who’s leading the parade?

  • Wanett

    Excellent post!! Many insightful observations no hateration in sight. I agree with everything here. I especially hated Lala’s character though He Got Game is one of my fave Spike Lee joints. I would have to say that Girl 6 is near the top, too. Which you must recall is actually written by a woman, Suzan-Lori Parks.

  • polly pureheart

    How is Spike Lee then different from 99 percent of Hollyweird?!! It’s ALL done from the male gaze this time it’s just not from a white one calling out sexism is one thing but don’t be so half assed about it. Especially to a guy who has a MUCH harder time getting his films made than the rest of the industry.

  • Mr. Clinton

    What about Tisha Campbell as the superficial and degradingly self-sacrificing Jane Toussaint in “School Daze”?

    • Yeah, she definitely needs to be added to the list.

    • MiddleMyatt

      Excellent point. What an oversight; her character is a hopelessly heavy-handed example of Spike’s cinematic trouble with women.

      • Brandon Wilson

        For me Jane Toussaint is more of a victim of misogyny, not a Jezebel, Sapphire or a martyr, so I left her off the list. I don’t think she’s an awful character. She just suffers an awful fate. And in that case, Mr. Lee was making a point about misogyny, not simply being misogynistic, and I believe he was successful on that score.

  • Neziah

    The guy who made this list either has too much time on his hands or is gay. Funny how most of Spike’s haters are more obsessed with him than his fans, go figure.

    • Yeah, I agree, something just ain’t right. What’s the goal of this “list”?

      The author said, …”Hopefully, this list will motivate some of you to take a 1st or 2nd look at his films”

      NOw come on, who in the hell believes that’s the purpose behind this list? And check this, I am wondering what “they”, the newly “inspired/motivated” would be looking for? I mean, if a person took their cue from that gut bucked list, why would they want to see the movie (any of Spikes movies) AGAIN?

      Please, this list was nothing but an example of a person stroking his own ego while setting traps for the rest of the bottom feeding carp.

      “ooouuu, Spike so nasty, ain’t he girls”

      “Giiiirlrrrl, he’s pretty sexist… all the women in his movies are superficial and degradingly self-sacrificing. And honey, Opal is a lesbian. Opal hates men. She seems to have 1 thing on her mind: So Opal is nothing but a stereotype of the rapacious lesbian trying to recruit”

      HOPEFULLY, THIS LIST WILL MOTIVATE SOME OF YOU TO TAKE A FIRST AND SECOND LOOK AT HIS FILMS.

      • Um, no, he was pointing out problematic portrayals of women in some of Spike’s film. I’ve seen almost all his movies and while I appreciate the stories tells about black people (namely men), I do not love the way he portrays black women. Most likely, because I’m a black woman and am critical about the media I consume. I am able to appreciate what its good about a work while simultaneously seeing/naming/breaking down what is stereotypical, mysogynistic, homophobic, classist, ageist, ableist, etc. That’s what Brandon did in this post.

        It’s not hateration or giving fodder to the bottom feeding carp to discuss and critically analyze media, and I think it’s damn near ridiculous to make that assertion.

      • So which part of Neziah’s inane, even homophobic comment do you agree with Carey – that “the guy who made this list” has too much time on his hands, or that he’s gay?

        I’m sure Brandon is well-equipped to “defend” himself, but, since I reposted it, I had to say something before this thread devolves into more inanity.

        Your comments all suggest that any critique is somehow maliciously-inspired; Or is it only when the criticism is of someone you admire?

        It may come as a surprise to you, but some folks actually like to learn, and will be inspired to take a look (whether first or second or third) at a work, based on a sound critique of it, that gives them a new awareness or understanding of it, or challenges their original interpretation of the work.

        To suggest otherwise is short-sighted on your part, and highlights your own biases in this case, and possibly even your insecurities; I doubt that you’d be crying foul if the filmmaker being criticized was say, Tyler Perry.

        It’s called film criticism; it happens all the time to the best and brightest. No one is exempt. bell hooks, and many other “notables,” male and female, have severely criticized Spike for his depictions of black women in his films, since Spike’s first film, just as white critics have challenged the portrayals of white women in films by white male filmmakers; so nothing particularly new here, except the writer’s own analysis. The point is that it shouldn’t be a surprise if someone else does, and adequately supports their arguments, as Brandon has done above. It doesn’t automatically imply “hatred” for Spike, or whomever is being criticized. Actually, sometimes, it’s the opposite.

        You surprise me here, because I wouldn’t expect this stance from you of all people. Neziah is new here, so I’ll give him/her a pass… this time.

        Instead of challenging or attempting to suppress the existence of the critique, or to discredit the writer by saying “something just ain’t right,” it would be far more instructive if you challenged the analysis. So, if you disagree with the content, you’re more than welcome to present your own arguments that counter Brandon’s, and I’m sure he will graciously reply. But this reductive “hater” labeling whenever criticism is leveled, is so tired.

        Right now, all you’re doing, at least it seems, is stirring the pot. And if you’re being contrarian just for the sake of being contrarian, I really have no interest in playing that game right now. But maybe others are.

        • “And if you’re being contrarian just for the sake of being contrarian”

          Oh no, that would be waaaay too easy.

          “It may come as a surprise to you, but some folks actually like to learn, and will be inspired to take a look (whether first or second or third) at a work, based on a sound critique of it, that gives them a new awareness or understanding of it, or challenges their original interpretation of the work”

          Okay Tambay, I’ll play that game. I mean, I love to learn, so tell me, since the theme of this post is Spike Lee’s 10 worst Female characters, what is there to learn? Seriously, dig down and tell me what’s new?

          Sure, it sounds wise and clever to file this under “criticism” that we all can learn from, but when I view the finished product, I wonder if it was nothing but a smoke screen to hide (maybe unconsciously) a different message. That’s my problems with “criticism” of this nature.

          Again I repeat, what was the purpose of this list and what was there to learn?

          Believe me, I truely know what you are defending but lets continue.

          “It’s called film criticism; it happens all the time to the best and brightest”

          So, because this type of “criticism” concerning Spike’s worst female characters (of all time)(tweeting and encouraging other to join in, is done all the time, that makes it right? Not, can’t buy that one.

          “No one is exempt. bell hooks, and many other “notables,” male and female, have severely criticized Spike for his depictions of black women in his films”

          Tambay look, just as you’ve found it important and/or necessary to criticize Spike Lee, using “notables,” and “everybody does it” as some form of validation that it’s the correct thing to do, I find it necessary to voice a counterpoint.

          re: Learning.

          There is obviously many lessons on the floor. Some our very subtle, and the following is one.

          “it would be far more instructive if you challenged the analysis”

          That’s not true. I am challenging the usefulness of this type of analysis/”criticism” and it’s purpose. What’s to be accomplished by furthering and/or engaging oneself in a discussion by challenging “this” analysis? If and when a person does that, the conversation (in this case, pointing an evil-eye at Spike’s alledged evil ways) continues. And again, really, what are we accomplishing? What, because “everyone” , “notables,” male and female are doing it, it must be the right thing to do?

          Nope, miss me with that one.

          Tambay, please tell me what’s the intent and/or purpose of severely criticizing Spike for his depictions of black women in his films?

          Personally, I believe if you took the time to answer that question, that would be far more instructive than asking me to “challenged the analysis”.

          “since Spike’s first film, just as white critics have challenged the portrayals of white women in films by white male filmmakers; so nothing particularly new here, except the writer’s own analysis”

          AND!?

          You’re right, nothing new. Black folks will continue to criticise/best down their most notable stars, and hide under the banner of “everybody does it, it’S “just” criticism”, SO IT MUST BE “RIGHT”.

          I say it’s much more than that… and many people (those that care to look above and below the whimsicle banter) will agree that “criticism” is sometimes used as a tool to attack another person. Why do they do that? Uuuuuummm, they have to answer that question, if they have the courage to do so.

          In short Tambay, from your perspective, you appear to believe these types of lists and this type of “critisism” is all good.

          I say not so fast and tell me why… it’s all good? What’s the final product and what’s the cost?

          “I doubt that you’d be crying foul if the filmmaker being criticized was say, Tyler Perry”

          Why would you say that? Come on man, check the books, I’ve defended Tyler Perry against this sort of “gossip fest” – on the regular.

          Lastly, the following is the real lesson.

          Spike Lee did… “blah blah blah, yak yak, shity chat chat, oh me oh my, lions tigers and bears.

          I say… AND?! As Jim Brown said to Richard Prior, whatcha [we] gonna do now? What is Spike Lee gonna do NOW. Now that “we’ve” shown him the errs of is ways, what is he gonna do now???

          Some negros will jive and bullshit, all under the banner of “it’s just contructive criticism”, and then believe it’s gonna be allllllright in the moanin’

          I say, fools rush in where wise men tread not. Hey, everybody is doing “it”, right?

          NOT!

          No defined purpose and direction = failure.

          • Sigh… You’ve really said nothing here Carey. You ask me to tell you “what’s the intent and/or purpose of severely criticizing Spike for his depictions of black women in his films;” and my response to that would be, gee, what’s the point of criticizing any filmmaker’s depictions of anything? What’s the point of criticizing D.W. Griffith’s depictions of black people in “Birth Of A Nation?” Or any of the more recent “women-centered” films that depict black men in very limited, disparaging portrayals? If all you got from Brandon’s list was that this was an “evil-eye” being pointed at Spike’s “alleged evil ways,” that’s unfortunate, and, as I said, very short-sighted. The bottomline for me is, if you can’t see how substantive and substantiated criticism of an artist’s work can be edifying for both the artist and the audience, then there’s really nothing more I can say to you about this. All-praise-all-the-time doesn’t work for me. We can just agree to disagree.

            • Yep, we’ll have to stay divided on this one.

              And you are correct, I will continue to ask the question that you conveniently side-stepped… “what’s the point of criticizing any filmmaker’s depictions of anything? What’s the point of criticizing D.W. Griffith’s depictions of black people in “Birth Of A Nation?” Or any of the more recent “women-centered” films that depict black men in very limited, disparaging portrayals?”

              “You’ve really said nothing here Carey”

              Tambay, I hear what you’re not saying.

              All you had to do was tell me the purpose (of this list) – from your perspective.

              And, I shouldn’t have to say this, but… the road to hell is filled with good “intentions”. But the final product tells the real truth.

              “If all you got from Brandon’s list was that this was an “evil-eye” being pointed at Spike’s “alleged evil ways,” that’s unfortunate, and, as I said, very short-sighted”

              Come on Tambay, you’re a better man than that. It should be obvious that that’s not “ALL” I got from reading Brandon’s list and the comments. And, you’ve yet to define what you’ve recieved from his list. I wonder who’s really not saying nothing and who’s really being short-sighted? I know, so I’m throwing the ball back in your court. Come on man.

              AND!… “I’m sure Brandon is well-equipped to “defend” himself, but, since I reposted it, I had to say something before this thread devolves into more inanity”

              Ananity you say. You are absolutely correct. So call your boy so he can come back and defend himself. I think he need some of this pimp slappin’ and maybe, while he’s here “HE” can tell us the purpose behind this kind of “contructive criticism”.

              You believe it’s a learning to, but I wholeheartedly question that opinion. The comments give no indication that anyone has learned anything by reading “The 10 most worst woman characters in a Spike Lee MOvie”.

              Ol’boy can write his ass off, but…

              But until someone defines the purpose and rewards of this form of “feedback/criticism”, I am left to wonder what it’s really all about. I believe I know, but I’d like for others to give me a headsup from their perspective.

              It’s lame to answer a question with a question… so stop it :-)

              What’s the final product and what’s the cost and what’s the rewards of reading this Brandon’s list and joining in that discussion? In short, what are we learning or losing?

              As Jim Brown said to Richard Prior, whatcha [we] gonna do now? What is Spike Lee gonna do NOW. Now that “we’ve” shown him the errs of is ways, what is he gonna do now???

              I repeat, no defined purpose and direction = failure.

              • Brandon Wilson

                Defend myself? My analysis speaks for itself. As does the quality of criticism I’ve received.

                And I cannot have a battle of wits with an unarmed person.

                You have repeatedly demonstrated your ignorance of critical analysis, so I won’t waste time trying to teach you what it is. I get paid, as an English teacher, to explain critical analysis to people who don’t know what it is. I am not about to do it for free here.

                • Mr I-GET-PAID,

                  Huff and puff and they all fall down.

                  “You have repeatedly demonstrated your ignorance of critical analysis, so I won’t waste time trying to teach you what it is. I get paid, as an English teacher”

                  Yes, it’s true, I am ignorant of critical analysis. So I was pleased when you returned to pull my coat. But nawl… you came up in the joint with the big bi*ch move.

                  Oh yeah, you fell up in the house with mess on your mind.

                  Yeah, you get paid, and so does pimps, hustlers, mf’ers and thieves.

                  See, I don’t think you really can explain why your looooong tweet list is necessary reading. I don’t believe the list serves any specific (usable) purpose other than to stroke your ego (which was on display with your arrogant comment)

                  “My analysis speaks for itself” “As does the quality of criticism I’ve received” *giggle* CUTE!

                  Listen Mr I-Get-Paid, if you can’t say it, you can’t do it. I’m suggesting that you cannot define the rewards one may recieve from participanting in a discussion on Spikes 10 Worst Women Characters.

                  And please, spare me your explaination of “critical analysis”. That’s a good side-step, but it does not answer the questions.

                  What’s the purpose and rewards of this form of “feedback/criticism” and critical analysis. I mean, was this presented as a learning tool… with no pay? If so, Mr Teacher, tell me true, what was on the table?

                  One more time… no defined purpose and direction = failure. And I don’t care what your cut-buddies (and girl “friends”) says about you.

                  Listen man, seriously, other than you getting paid, what’s the purpose of this form of “criticism”?

                  Seriously, you mentioned something about this be a learning tool, (you get PAID and “Hopefully, this list[Spikes worst black women characters] will motivate some of you to take a 1st or 2nd look at his film”?

                  Really? Are you showing others, teaching others how to write “critical analysis”? Please, please tell this crippled, ignorant, one arm bastard, all the rewards of reading your brilliant piece?

                  Please, give me something I can feel. I mean, you the man so I’m laying at your feet… trying to pickup a little wisdom.

                  Maybe your post was designed for inspiring filmmakers? You know, “Don’t do it like Spike, or we’ll be sweet tweeting on yo ass”.

                  Seriously man, Although I jest, I seriously do not understand why this form of “critical analysis” is a learning tool or necessary, nor what’s accomplished by reading it… ???

                  • Brandon Wilson

                    No thanks. Judging by your earlier posts, I don’t think a dialogue between us would yield much fruit.

                    One thing. His name is Richard Pryor, not Prior.

                    • That’s great, you’re not only a paid teacher, you’re a spell-checker too. Man, that’s so lame.

                      Listen Brandon, I don’t think you’re very comfortable doing a little soul-searching.

                      See, many many people write critiques. And, for the most part, many love to read them. But, although I may be a lone voice, I’ve often wondered what’s the motive, inspiration and/ or purpose behind them.

                      Seriously, like your list, what fruit does the reader receive and what’s your reward?

                      Check this, I eat because I am hungry. I cry when I am hurting. I listen to music because I like that form of entertainment (it make me feel good). Some folks drink liquor and smoke crack because it makes them feel good. Some folks write because they have a need to express themselves via the written word. Other do it to get paid. Some write to pursuade or convince other folks to go their way.

                      Why did you write that “critical analysis”?

                      I am suggesting that , for the most part, aside from basic survival and unconscious body functions, everything we do is fueled by an emotion. Some are very subtle, but there’s always an emotion that precedes our actions and generally, we have a desired result based on that action.

                      Some love to gossip about the errs of others…. why?

                      Some folks love to point out the indiscretions of others…. why? What are they getting from that? How does it make them feel?

                      Granted, there will always be those that love nothing more than to talk about the missteps of others. But again, why do they do that? Are you kidding me, they will step right up and say, “great job” and “good work”.

                      So, aside from the art of writing “critical analysis” what’s really gained by reading your type (this post) of criticism? And what rewards do you receives? That’s all I am asking, and we will not even have to have an exchange. I am just asking your perspective on the usefulness of critiques of this nature; the rewards, payoff and consequences.

                      What’s the purpose?

  • I agree wholeheartedly with Lee’s lack of depth and overall sexism in his films. Still love him but the man hasn’t been exactly kind to the portrayals of black women (or any woman for that matter). I also notice the same with Aaron McGruder and The Boondocks.

  • AccidentalVisitor

    This is indeed a deserved criticism of Spike Lee’s films. I am thankful the writer did point out that his non-black females are typically just as flawed and lacking in dimension as his black female characters because there are a number of black women who act as if Spike is going after them personally. Besides my counter to black women over the years is that Spike’s female characters are no worse than the black male characters in the novels of so many highly regarded black female writers. At least Spike’s female characters aren’t constantly molesting their children.

    I may take issue with Angela Bassett’s inclusion for her role as Betty Shabazz. “Malcolm X” was a typical biopoc about a famous man in that it doesn’t really give you a fully realized portrayal of his wife/love of his life. If the complaint about the Betty role was that she didn’t get enough to do and such well then you can make that same complaint about the leading female in a certain film that justt won Best Picture at the Oscars. In fact the charge against Spike could be leveled at about 75% of all successful white male directors in the business who work in all genres (comedies, action movies, dramas). Most of the female roles in major motion pictures are paper thin because the ladies are typically relegated to the girlfriend/wife part. That’s not to excuse Spike but it does add some perspective.

  • Brandon Wilson

    @CareyCarey – If you read this thread, all of it, you’ll have your answer. Spike Lee is an artist. Critics, other artists, and regular old thinking people discuss a body of work to come to a DEEPER MORE NUANCED UNDERSTANDING OF THAT ARTIST’S WORK AND THE NATURE OF THE MEDIUM ITSELF. This is not a basic human need the way food and shelter are. This is something we have evolved towards having satisfied those needs. We discuss art because it is a part of our CULTURE. Spike Lee’s work has had a huge impact me, as a filmmaker, and as a person. It goes without saying that he has had a unique impact on Black America. As a cinephile, I devote a lot of thought to cinema. So therefore, it is only natural that I should turn my critical faculties towards the oeuvre of one of the most influential filmmakers of the last 25 years. It is lamentable that all you see is sniping. But having read and re-read my writing, I don’t think this is a hatchet piece. I have extolled Mr. Lee’s virtues here as well as delineated the flaws. I’m not the first to level this charge at Mr. Lee. The challenge for me was to make this charge concrete by looking at the totality of Mr. Lee’s output. So I have tried to contribute to and refine this public discussion of how women, Black or otherwise, are depicted in our culture; because like cinema, it is of great personal importance to me. Is this going to feed someone? No. Is this going to change how Spike Lee makes movies? Unlikely. But this list was compiled in an attempt to seek Truth, capital “T” Truth , and that urge is just as powerful in human beings as the need for food and shelter.

  • My man Brandon, in my old school (average knuckle head) opinion, you did well. Thanks for coming back and explaining your reasoning/logic – behind this post.

    But can I ask, do you see any form of negativity this form (this particular post) could inspire?

    And yes, your analysis was not a hatchet job, and obviously, I saw much more than “sniping”.

    Lastly, “Truth, capital “T” Truth”

    Wow… big words with several meanings but now we’re talking. Some folks twist Scriptures to justify their “truth”. While other folks run from “their” core issues (emotions, behavior, etc) in an to attempt to(maybe unconsiously) run from the “truth” about themselves.

    I believe a person gets the “truth” they are looking for, and what pleases their heart.

    Thanks for coming back, and this time, we didn’t even sling arrows :-)

    I have not arrived but I’m working on that.

  • Kinsey

    This was beautifully written. Thanks for posting this. As an Actress…my compliments. This is true.

  • JasonJee

    And if someone did the worst Black male characters in these Black female driven films we’d have to increase the list to thirty but we never go there, opps, I did.