Just when we thought the scandal around Nate Parker's Birth of a Nation couldn't get worse, the film maker's rise to the top might have just suffered its decisive blow.
Days after the media focused it's attention on Parker's college rape trial — which became headline news thanks to Parker's newfound role as Hollywood's golden boy and also because of a Variety story revealing that his accuser committed suicide in 2012 — new details are emerging about Birth of a Nation's storyline that, in light of the rape conversation, could affect the film's box office and Oscar prospects.
A New York Times article sheds light on the film's highly questionable plot, in which Nat Turner's slave rebellion is spurred by the gang rape of his wife by white men. "As more people will discover when they see the film, which is scheduled to open on Oct. 7 in more than 1,500 theaters, Mr. Parker’s script uses gang rape as a central story point, though the attack is not explicitly shown," the article reads. "The film looks at the slave revolt Turner led in Virginia in 1831, but a storytelling device — the brutal assault by white men on Turner’s wife — feeds a rage that sets the rebellion in motion."
This is troubling on many levels. For one, history shows that Turner never acknowledged having a wife. There are records that indicate Turner's owner, Samuel Turner, married him to a slave named Cherry, but that he likely didn't consider the marriage valid and Nat never mentioned the marriage in his writings.
Secondly, for the film to hinge on a rape scene, given Parker's history, might be uncomfortable for audiences.
Lastly, Turner's rebellion was, according to his own writings, based on spiritual visions. "In a seventh vision, Nat Turner saw a holy war and believed he was commanded to take up arms against his oppressors," according to historians.
Unless Parker had access to records that historians don't, it sounds like he used creative license in telling Turner's story, which might be considered problematic considering Parker's history.
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(Photo: Angela Weiss/Getty Images for TheWrap)
(Photo: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for CinemaCon)