There are multiple scenes in Jungle Fever that address the fear from black women that black men will abandon them for lighter-skinned black woman before ultimately abandoning them for white women altogether, and, conversely, there are scenes from the Italian-American characters where both the n-word and the word moolie a ridiculous slur that I find hilarious in the Year of Our Lord are tossed around laissez-faire. If the intention is to show all facets of black life, Lee falls prey to all the stereotypes his characters claim they aren't. On dating apps, you can set up preferences based on age, sexual position, and, most importantly, race. In Do the Right Thing it would've been a bogus subplot. By making the relationship one of convenience, we get the feeling that Angie is totally sexually uninterested in Flipper. Lines like "Most [black men] are homos, drug addicts, or in jail" are so jaw-droppingly hilarious you can't believe these are real characters. And in Mo' Better Blues it would've been a movie we've seen before — the genius musician ruined by drugs. Not even Spike Lee, it seems.
At the very least, the Jungle Fever of today would be forced to address the ways that forbidden sexual relationships due to racial prejudices have villainously crept into our society. Does Spike Lee think interracial romance is wrong? Flipper wasn't out chasing a white woman, and Angie wasn't looking for some Mandingo to fulfill her Moor of Venice fantasies. Part of the problem is that the central relationship of Jungle Fever is completely devoid of any real emotion. Yet despite the fact that it virtually crumbles under the weight of its own embarrassing datedness, some of the themes still resonate. Lines like "Most [black men] are homos, drug addicts, or in jail" are so jaw-droppingly hilarious you can't believe these are real characters. But with apps, it's much easier to be casually racist or fall prey to colorism. By making the relationship one of convenience, we get the feeling that Angie is totally sexually uninterested in Flipper. Would Flipper and Angie have even met in ? If Jungle Fever succeeds at anything, it's bringing those issues to the forefront and creating a conversation. From the title, you'd think it's a film about a man who actively desires a white woman to fulfill a "jungle fever" fantasy, or vice versa, but this is actually not the case. The film is all "issue" and no story. Jackson proudly proclaims he's a drug addict like a court jester dancing before the throne. Not even Spike Lee, it seems. And in Mo' Better Blues it would've been a movie we've seen before — the genius musician ruined by drugs. The issues at the heart of the film aren't talked about openly anymore. On dating apps, you can set up preferences based on age, sexual position, and, most importantly, race. If the intention is to show all facets of black life, Lee falls prey to all the stereotypes his characters claim they aren't. These are two people who end up fucking and dating because of an affair at the office, which is a tale as old as time. Flipper and Angie are thrown together because Angie's father beats her like Spike Lee has only ever seen in The Godfather, and Flipper's wife throws his clothing out of the window in the middle of Harlem. Jackson performs beautifully, along with stellar performances from Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis as his parents, but the outlandishness of the plot feels divorced from reality and the film. It's a comical "issue" film that Lee has made many times over; it's not essential viewing, especially when you consider his filmography or even the wider canon of great black films. Everything in the film is spelled out for you, but no point is ever reached. In Do the Right Thing it would've been a bogus subplot. Lee is basically asking us: Does he think we should just ignore it?
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