Russell Simmons: Outrage Over Harriet Tubman Sex Tape Parody 'Broke My Heart' (Video)
The mogul says he didn't realize how the video would be perceived by African-American women in particular.
Russell Simmons says he was taken aback by the controversy over the Harriet Tubman parody video recently posted on his YouTube channel, which depicted the U.S. abolitionist having sex with her white slave master with the intent of filming the act and blackmailing him.
In fact, he tells host Cynthia LuCiette in the YouTube entertainment show BRKDWN that the backlash from African-American women in particular "broke my heart."
"When I got the call and found out black women were so disgusted by it, it broke my heart," he says. "I’m sure I'm gonna piss off everybody again tomorrow. I got shit that's gonna piss people off. … But it's not likely it'll break my heart and make me react as quickly."
When he first saw the clip, he says, he saw a "vision of traditional comedy -- the oppressed taking advantage of the oppressor. That was what I saw, though it could have been executed better. … Although in the video, she seduces the slave master, it implies the previous rapes. So I just saw her taking advantage of the slave master, and I let it go."
Over 30 years in the content business, he says, he's never pulled a piece of content until now; he felt like this video was different because it crossed a line. He says it wasn't the outrage that led to his decision but the fact that his eyes were opened to how the video was being received.
African-American women "really educated me how hurtful it was," he adds. "Because I never considered rape. I just saw her seduce, take advantage of and turn the tables on the slave master. That's what I saw. It's really f---ing bad, and I’m really sorry I did it."
Watch the interview below.
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