This paper examines the sexual politics of the Spike Lee film She Hate Me (2004). The film’s director and collaborative writer attempts to integrate the memory of the initial whistle blower of Watergate, the Black American security guard Frank Wills, with a contemporary Black corporate hero story. She Hate Me also includes a subnarrative of sexual surrogacy and Black female sexuality, which emerges as the central narrative by the film’s end. I argue that the film presents a phantasmagoric fantasy, which postulates normative conceptions of sexuality, while purporting to represent the non-normative Black female sexual imaginary in a sympathetic way. I build upon this argument by addressing the following questions: How does the dominant narrative of She Hate Me reify conservative notions of the conjugal family? In what ways does Lee’s construction of Black sexualities undermine the cultural politics of Frank Wills’s memory? How does Lee’s compilation of sexual iconography serve the purpose of sensory stimulation, rather than a serious contemplation, of the parameters of sexual identities? Through my exploration of the homonationalist ideology upheld in the film, I assert that Lee’s stale illusion of sexual representation and underdeveloped political narrative creates a nebulous sexual and political phantasma of representation.
Spike Lee, Frank Wills, Black female sexuality in film, phantasmagoric, homonationalism, Black film
Copyright © 2011 Deborah E. Whaley
Recommended CitationWhaley, Deborah E. "Spike Lee’s Phantasmagoric Fantasy and the Black Female Sexual Imaginary in She Hate Me." Poroi 7, Iss. 2 (2011): Article 6. http://dx.doi.org/10.13008/2151-2957.1092
I would like to extend thanks to Aimee Carrillo-Rowe and Miriam Thaggert at the University of Iowa for their reading and comments on this paper.