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A comparison between two female characters in Spike Lee’s films

by Julia Christina Englen

The women in Spike Lee’s films are there to fill a purpose. They are underlining the hierarchy that men are on the top. Women like Sloan in Bamboozled tried to change the system, nevertheless, falls into it. The Albanian woman in Inside Man is just a caricature of how many westerns see both women and eastern Europeans (see “The Albanian caricature in Inside Man”). She is chain smoking, wears sexy clothes and has parking tickets. It is a comic relief, however, not in real life. Spike Lee makes fun of many caricatures of African Americans in Bamboozled. Nevertheless, he falls in to the same trap when it comes to Sloan. Or is Spike Lee ironic when Sloan is shown to be the upcoming assistant that does not have to have sex with her boss to succeed? Is Spike Lee tries to get a point across how society looks at successful women in the media industry, that they need to sleep with someone to get the opportunity to succeed? Sloan is not portrayed as an obvious sexual object; however, this scene reveals that she slept with her boss when she was an intern. She wants to be able to say that she earned her position through “honest” work. The film almost makes fun of her trying and failing to be independent. The Albanian woman in Inside Man is sexual objectified with her clothes, lights and her wild temper. She has all attributes to be a caricature of eastern European women. The Albanian woman plays a smaller part in the film than Sloan. Both of the women have two things in common. First, the men do not take them seriously. In the short sequence with the Albanian women the men still questioned her if she is right. Sloan is trying to comment and change Manray’s point of view. She is the “voice of reason”; nevertheless, he does not listen to her. Second, they both are portrayed as sexual objects. The Albanian woman is wearing sexy clothes and is seductive. Sloan is not obviously sexual, nevertheless Spike Lee in the end, shows that she slept with her boss to succeed. The question is Spike Lee tries to get a point how female are portrayed or is he just falling into the same trap?

Spike Lee's Stereotype of Sloan

by Katie Trott

 

            Spike Lee is infamous for his use of stereotypes in his films, especially in his film Bamboozled. The obvious stereotypes in Bamboozled are Manray and Dela who are African Americans willing to demoralize themselves as well as their race in order to get ahead.  Another, more subtle stereotype is Sloan who is one of the only female characters in the film and can be considered the voice of reason in the film. As Dela’s ideas for Bamboozled become more and more outlandish, Sloan is constantly shown trying to reel him in with the occasional “Are you out of your mind?” While Sloan is a major character in the sense that she is in Bamboozled a lot, she is never really heard, as shown in the last scene where she snaps and manically yells “Today is listen to Sloan day.”

In this clip, the audience gets a very clear perspective of how Spike Lee stereotypes women in his films to make their role of lesser importance. By stereotyping her as a woman who had to sleep with her boss to get her job seemingly lessens her abilities and drive. The irony of this clip is portrayed when Sloan admits to sleeping with her boss, Dela, but then goes on an angry rant about how men think women have to “fuck or suck somebody in order to get to the top.” Sloan goes on to get angry about how because she is young and attractive it is perceived she slept with her boss to get to on top, when in fact that is exactly what she did. The juxtaposition of what Sloan is arguing and what Sloan actually did portrays women as a stereotype with a lack of ability to get on top on their own.

Another part of this scene that supports this argument is how it is filmed. Sloan is shown talking to Manray through the lens of a hand-held camera and when they are shown talking calmly they are sitting next to each other on the couch. However, when Manray first asks Sloan if she slept with Dela and when she begins getting angry towards the end of the scene they are shown standing across from each other with Sloan standing up. The idea that Sloan is standing “above” Manray provides Sloan with a power that Lee prohibits her from having in the film.  The film techniques of this scene show an intricate interpersonal dynamic between the two characters, because even though Sloan has this position of power from standing over Manray, Manray cuts her off, does not listen to her and then refuses to believe what she is saying. Furthermore, a key aspect of this scene is that all of it is taking place in Sloan’s apartment. The audience watches Manray accuse and tear down Sloan in her own space, showing ever further her lack of authority and power in Bamboozled.

Spike Lee portrays Sloan in this ironic light in order to emphasize his use of caricatures or stereotypes of women. This clip shows that even if Sloan is the “voice of reason” she is never actually heard because she is thought of in such a negative, simple-minded light. 

The Female Caricatures of Wayne Wang and Spike Lee: Bamboozled

by Michelle Robinson

This clip from director Spike Lee's Bamboozled (along with clips from Lee’s Inside Man and director Wayne Wang’s Smoke and A Thousand Years of Good Prayer) will be used to explore how the two directors, who have created both Hollywood and independent films, negotiate and employ stereotypes in their films, particularly in their representations of women. Additional commentaries will be provided by students in the course “The Film Director as Public Intellectual” at UNC Chapel Hill (Spring 2012)

Sloane

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In this clip from director Spike Lee's Bamboozled, Manray (Savion Glover) listens to Pierre Delacroix (Damon Wayan)'s insinuations about Sloane Hopkins (Jada Pinkett-Smith), then accuses Sloan of sleeping her way to the top.

from Bamboozled (2000)
Creator: Spike Lee
Distributor: New Line Home Entertainment
Posted by Michelle Robinson
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