Reporting Vickie Thomas
By Vickie Thomas
Spike Lee’s new film “Red Hook Summer” takes viewers on an emotional roller coaster ride as it goes from dealing with puppy love between the two young co-stars to a gripping scene of a young boy being molested by a man of the cloth.
The film opens in theaters this week but I had the opportunity to see it during an advanced media screening here in Detroit. I sat next to 39-year-old Sean H. Robinson, a local actor, writer and filmmaker. I asked him before the movie started if I could interview him after to get his thoughts on Spike Lee’s latest creation.
Just like the plot of the film, my interview with Robinson took an unbelievable twist. He shared his thoughts on some of the highlights of the movie and I asked him if it the molestation scene was too heavy to take in and process.
His answer was surprising. “It was definitely heavy… I write that way as well. I actually welcome that. I actually had something like that happen to me when I was 12 years old,” Robinson candidly admitted.
As far as Lee’s handling of the sensitive and controversial subject, Robinson said, “I can see where he was coming from…you have a person that is a man of the cloth that’s trusted by the congregation and people basically believe in him that he’s following what he’s preaching but he’s still a man and he’s still fallible…we put these people on pedestals and don’t think that they are fallible.”
Unlike in his own real life situation, Robinson wanted more closure in the on-screen storyline. He says the character was still in denial and never makes amends for his sin, especially to his flock.
He says the film is thought provoking, adding, “I’ve been a Spike Lee fan for 20 years …this is something that makes you think. He wants you to go home and think about these social issues, relationship issues, and trust issues and failure s of our leadership and people in our community so you can discuss it.
“That’s the only way things can ever change is through dialogue.”
As she emerged from the theater, Detroiter Legacy Leonard was still processing what she saw on the big screen. “To put all this belief in this particular spiritual leader and then to have been betrayed…these are things in the closet. We’re known for sweeping things under the rug.”
Leonard, who tells me she grew up in the church added, “It reflects on us negatively if something like this is dealt with in the public sphere and Spike Lee just kind of strips the covers off everything, so that’s a lot.”
In an interview with Spike Lee Friday, he talked to me about certain aspects of the film but said he didn’t want to discuss the controversial issue of molestation raised in “Red Hook Summer” until moviegoers had a chance to see it for themselves.