> Volume 6 > Number 23


Spike Lee

Anthony Mackie
Kerry Washington
Lonette McKee
Ellen Barkin
Monica Bellucci
Jim Brown
Woddy Harrelson

Release: 30 Jul. 04

She Hate Me


In what could be the most headstrong bad film in some time, Spike Lee’s She Hate Me can’t be described as a particularly unentertaining work -- on the contrary, it’s amazingly entertaining -- just one that makes little sense and says nothing over the course of Lee’s trademark 2-hours-plus length. As is often the case, this is more a Spike Lee Rant than Joint, but this jeremiad is especially incomprehensible. Targeting the corporate greed and backstabbing morality that he believes is responsible for a nation destroying the everyman, Lee devises a story that is the very embodiment of corporal greed and immorality to contradictorily counter the corporations.

Considering that Lee is usually on his top game when adapting (25th Hour, Clockers, Malcolm X) or completely provoked to action (Do the Right Thing, Get on the Bus, Bamboozled), this latest provocation should be en route to his best efforts. But She Hate Me remains in the cluttered list of Lee mediocrities ranging from She’s Gotta Have It to Jungle Fever to Summer of Sam, films in which the director has allowed himself to torturously improvise, making his interesting stories boring or too ridiculous to care about. No matter how much he may intend to say with She Hate Me, its ineffective Lee posits are too numerous and too glaring to not derail the picture. This is, after all, a film in which he’s trying to castigate U.S. business practices by telling the story of man (Mackie; in one of the year’s most annoying performances) who’s paid to impregnate lesbian businesswomen.

But Lee desperately wants to say something with this film, which makes it all the more uneven in the long run. Amid the commotion of the central story are long asides in which Lee tries to introduce past injustices by corporate and political leaders against the black man, most notably in a recreation of the Watergate break in when Frank Wills (Ejiofor) caught the CREEP staffers before the U.S. government ruined his life. Played all around the map, this is a film that is never completely sure of itself because the director hasn’t the patience to think anything through. Otherwise, he would have devised a way to intelligently and judiciously argue against the current administration without merely dropping the ball by including such idiocies as fake currency with George W. Bush on it.

Worse yet, the film’s treatment of women and the traditional portrayal of lesbians is near offensive. Although some of the world’s finest actresses are tapped to play the lesbians waiting to be pregnant (including Monica Bellucci and Kerry Washington), they are mostly treated as comic toys for Lee and his star to show off their own masculine superiority. The animated sequences of Mackie-faced sperm fighting to get to the eggs are especially odious. Forced to take the easier route by neglecting the politics, Lee has only succeeded in setting himself backwards by years

©2004, David L. Blaylock,, 4 June 2004