Women and Spike Lee, III: Women as Betrayers

The threat of the woman embodied in the idea of temptation is fully expressed through the betrayers, female characters who have sold out (or appear to have sold out) the man they love for their own gain. Both betrayers are played by Rosario Dawson: Lala in He Got Game, and Naturelle in 25th Hour. Lala, (#2 on the list of Spike’s Worst Female Characters) afraid of being left behind when Jesus goes to college schemes with an agent (through the man she is cheating on Jesus with) to convince Jesus to skip college and go straight to the pros. Their relationship is idealized in the beginning of the film, and she is held up as the perfect girlfriend through lighting that halos her and the music) so it is all the more disappointing when we find out she has in fact sold him out. She uses her relationship with him to convince him to meet with the agent. In the end, she tells him she was trying to “get hers,” because he was getting out of the projects while she was still stuck there. Her duplicity combined with her sexuality is the double threat Lee sees in women. Naturelle in 25thHour, however, is immediately implicated by the film, which constructs her as the person who sold Monty out, causing him to go to prison. In the “fuck you” sequence in the mirror her sexual display is tainted and made dirty by his indictment of her: “I gave her my trust and she sold me up the river” yet as we find out later in the film; she was innocent. Yet, she is still blamed by Frank for benefiting from Monty’s drug dealing, and never making him stop, and as such still partly to blame for his arrest. Her indictment by the film, and her assumed guilt by almost every character, including Monty, fulfills the prophecy of the woman as temptation. Trust a woman and you will get bitten, is the message Lee’s films seem to propagate. Nonetheless, this film turns that on its head showing us that not only is Naturelle not guilty, she is loyal and trustworthy, and unworthy of the treatment Monty’s mistaken suspicion of her caused.

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