Oh, Goodie, Another Bad Review for Black Snake Moan

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.


I blogged a while back about the surprisingly positive reviews the repulsively salacious film Black Snake Moan was getting, with the only exception being the New York Times (that’s why I still defend the Times, mostly). The Nation calls attention to yet another hypersexual version of the sexual-abuse victim the movie sets the viewer up to rape all over again:

The icing on this particular cake is a PR campaign featuring a barely clad Ricci…kneeling at Samuel Jackson’s feet, accompanied by the soft-porn slogan “Everything Is Hotter Down South.”

And, like the New York Times, The Nation takes issue with the particular mix of race and gender in the movie. First of all, let’s remember that the hot young thing is chained to the radiator to cure her of nymphomania—which doesn’t actually exist, and certainly doesn’t cause sweats and chills of oh-so-hot-it-looks-like-an-orgasm kind Christina Ricci’s character suffers in the film.

But I digress. Here’s The Nation:

The two most powerful symbols of slavery in Black Snake Moan are writ large on Rae’s body: the chains around her waist and the rebel flag on her T-shirt. These images evoke the specter of white wrongdoing but also reframe her enslavement–which is supposed to be OK because Lazarus is black and Rae is white…What makes the movie truly offensive is that it employs race to peddle its brand of misogyny….

Misogyny, you ask? Really? Yeah, really. Here are two reviewers’ actual edited reviews, published on actual newsprint stolen from some trees in Oregon:

Brewer’s camera leaves the viewer free to savor the bared body of a victim of sexual abuse and rape tied to a radiator. And savor the male critics did. “All this envelope-pushing misogyny goes down relatively easily,” claims New York Post’s Lou Lumenick, who could “practically smell the sex and sweat” in what he dubs a “not insignificant contribution to global warming.” Todd McCarthy of Variety predicts that the movie “will find its most eager audience among college-age guys hot to ogle the young star in some very raw action.”

So the film’s claim to cure the woman of her nymphomania is an excuse for men to eroticize a young someone who’s been so abused she no longer has any meaningful form of consent to give. Who has the problem, again?


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend