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"She's Gotta Have It" Was Released Today... About That X-Rating And Black Sexuality On Screen...

Photo of Tambay A. Obenson By Tambay A. Obenson | Shadow and Act August 8, 2011 at 9:42AM

Today in history... August 8th, 1986, Spike Lee's feature film debut, She's Gotta Have It, was released theatrically, and is, by the way, celebrating its 25th anniversary this year!
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Today in history... August 8th, 1986, Spike Lee's feature film debut, She's Gotta Have It, was released theatrically, and is, by the way, celebrating its 25th anniversary this year!

Time flies right?

Revisiting an old post on the film, and, in a way, in celebration if it... some trivia and food for thought...

Did you know that She's Gotta Have It was initially given an X-rating by the MPAA? Why? The exact quote, according to Spike, was that the MPAA said it was "saturated with sex."

Hah! You can't help but laugh at the ridiculousness and hypocrisy of that given reason. Talk about a double-standard!

Thus, Spike had to re-edit the film three times, and still then, it was considered too risque; so he released it first in New York unrated, but was contractually obligated to deliver an R-rated movie, if he wanted to get paid, and eventually did.

What was Spike's response to the whole thing?

"I don't think it's out-and-out racist, but the film portrays blacks outside stereotypical roles, and they don't know what to do with blacks in films. They never have any love interests. Nick Nolte is the one who has a relationship in 48 Hours. And when it comes to black sexuality, they especially don't know how to deal with it. They feel uncomfortable. There are films with more gratuitous sex and violence. 9 1/2 weeks got an "R." And look at Body Double."

Boy, how little has changed in 25 years! There's still very much this suppression of what I'd call black-on-black sexual expression on movie theater screens, at the studio level specifically, so much that some of our stars (especially our male stars) seem to have even given up, or given in to these tacit "agreements," if we can call them that.

I'd say that since the Blaxploitation era ended, black sexual expression has been noticeably absent from mainstream cinema.

In 1987, when Robert Townsend's Hollywood Shuffle was released (in which his character was involved in a romance with Anne Marie Johnson's), he was quoted as saying, "This year, I'll be the only black man that kissed a black woman on screen. That's deep."

And with that, I'll leave you with this, how many films developed, financed and released by a Hollywood studio last year had a black man kissing a black woman, or vice-versa, with mutual affection? How about this year, 8 months in?

This article is related to: Things That Make You Go Hmm..., Today In History, Flashback


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