Russell Simmons has apologized for the “Harriet Tubman sex tape” video parody — and in a recent interview, he explained what made him greenlight the project and why he regrets doing so.
The fashion and music mogul was under fire for releasing the clip, which was widely condemned.
The video, which showed Tubman participating in lewd sex acts, was published through Simmon’s latest business venture, All Def Digital.
“The vision was traditional comedy — the oppressed taking advantage of the oppressor,” he told one of Brkdwn’s host’s Cynthia LuCiette. “That was what I saw, although it could have been executed better, but that’s what I saw.”
However, Simmons’ interpretation of the video did not match those of viewers who were outraged by the clip, including the NAACP which called Simmons to discuss the implications and images the video portrayed.
“When I got a call saying black women were so disturbed by it, it broke my heart. They educated me on how hurtful it was,” he said. “I never considered rape, I just saw her seduce, take advantage of and turn the tables on the slave master. It’s really bad and I’m sorry I did it.”
Movie director Spike Lee was among the many who publicly expressed his outrage at the video. Lee took to Twitter and published a series of tweets questioning the logic behind Simmon’s decision to publish the video.
“Just Saw Russell Simmons Produced Skit “HARRIET TUBMAN SEXTAPE. I Ask Why Do We Desecrate Our Ancestors?Why Do We Hate Ourselves?QUESTION??? [sic]” Lee tweeted.
When asked what he thought of Lee’s response to the video, Simmons half-jokingly responded: “It’s OK. Maybe he could use his energy to make a decent movie.”
But in reference to the video, Simmons seems to take it all very seriously and reiterates that he was “hurt” by the backlash and that he is “deeply sorry.”
“I try to stand up against injustice wherever I can, wherever my voice is useful,” he said.
Watch the full BRKDWN video interview above.
Follow Lilly Workneh on Twitter @Lilly_Works