From Uptown Magzine — When Spike Lee released Jungle Fever in August 1990, in just a couple of hours, he single-handedly addressed an issue that had been raising eyebrows for years: interracial dating.
Even though in the early ’90s, interracial couples represented only 1.9 percent of the population, according to U.S. Census Bureau, there seemed to be a fascination, and for some, a disgust over interracial dating, specifically between African-American men and white women. Set in New York City, Flipper (Wesley Snipes), a married architect began an affair with his assistant, Angie Tucci (Annabella Sciorra), an Italian-American.
The affair seemed to stem from both characters’ deep curiosity about each other’s race, more so than mere physical attraction, from the contrast in their skin colors–his dark complexion to her pale, “lily-white” skin to their upbringings, which were worlds apart. After disclosing his secret affair to his best friend, Flipper confessed, “I have to admit I’ve always been curious about Caucasian women.” The friend declared that he had “the fever, Jungle Fever,” described as an attraction between two different races.
Then there’s the memorable scene where Flipper is scolded by a waitress played by Queen Latifah when she refuses to serve the couple while out on a date. There was outrage over an African-American man leaving his black wife for an Italian woman onscreen because movie-goers saw it happening in real life, but the story was deeper than just black and white.