Spike Lee’s new series, She’s Gotta Have it is a remake of his 1986 debut film. The series released on Netflix on Thanksgiving Day has sparked much conversation.
Like most young Black women, Nola has a dollar and a dream and is trying to make it so she could live her best life and afford her “too expensive” apartment in Brooklyn. Nola is like so many Black women I’ve come across in college and she is a little bit of all of us.
Initially, the show seems to depict main character and artist, Nola Darling, as a promiscuous woman, an explorer of sexuality, an artist, an activist, and a woman scared of commitment who is “juggling a lot”, in the words of her therapist. Nola is a young struggling Black woman trying to pursue her passion for art, while doing some self-discovery (SAME CHILE) !
Although hard to swallow at the surface, the content of the show is much deeper than what it leads on to be. It combats several stereotypes and attitudes about Black womanhood while highlighting acts of misogyny, rape culture, cat calling, mental health, amongst more.
A personal favorite scene of mine is when Nola Darling defies male chauvinism by posting images all over Brooklyn that declare, “I am not Sweetie”, “I am not Babygurl”, “I am not Aye Yo Ma”, and “I am not Mamacita”, just to name a few. She uses these statements as a form of artist protest and activism against cat calling. Nola begins posting this street art after being harassed by a man she did not know on the street. This is a trend all too common and I’m sure all women have faced at one time or another. If you have ever been walking the streets minding your business and you hear someone yell, “Aye Yo Ma” aggressively and persistently, you know exactly what I’m talking about!
After this incident, as a rebuttal Nola bought a Little Black Dress and wore it around the three men she was dating to be much disappointed when they all point out that “If she didn’t want ______ to happen, she shouldn’t have worn the dress”. This ideology represents rape culture and the idea that what a woman wears justifies rape (ROLLS EYES!)
She’s Gotta Have it also highlights the insecurities and imperfections of women and the un-relentless desire to change the way one looks to feel beautiful. Nola’s friend, Shemekka Epps, a dancer, desires to acquire a bigger butt much like Nicki Minaj. After acquiring the money for her body alteration, Shemekka gains confidence and just what she needs to feel beautiful. There other friend on the other hand states that, “Any woman willing to alter her body is willing to affirm the male gaze”.
All in all, it questions what exactly women’s freedom is? The freedom to undeniably accept one’s self without trying to fit into stereotypes of what a woman’s body is “supposed” to look like or having the freedom to alter the body however one desires?
Spike Lee spoke for women all over the world highlighting Black women’s issues and challenges. I’m not sure if Lee intentionally or unintentionally released the show in the era of the #MeToo Movement (social media hashtag sparked in Oct. 2017 by social activist Tarana Burke as a method of highlighting and denouncing sexual assault and harassment after allegations toward Harvey Weinstein surfaced) and the era of TRUMP, but it worked and I LOVED it!
Lee did an exceptional job at highlighting something that we do NOT talk about in the Black culture, MENTAL HEALTH! Recently, Jay-Z has confirmed that he has gone to therapy and it has helped tremendously shape him into the man he is today. Besides Jay-Z, not many African Americans discuss therapy sessions because to us it’s “TABOO” or symbolic of insanity. Nola Darling often went to her therapist and worked through her “messiness”, which is sometimes a MUST! We can’t always get through it on our own.
With background music from Brian McKnight, Sade, and lyrics like “Ahh we got MELANIN” …photos of Solange Knowles surfacing…references to Shirley Chisolm, Nicki Minaj, Amber Rose…remarks about Trump, police brutality, and the struggles of bi-racial identity…the show is packed with CULTURE.
Nola Darling is incredibly comfortable with being 120% “Nola Darling”. She is passionate, strong, radical, determined, and a tab bit “messy”. She is a perfect combination of so many other strong depictions of Black womanhood expressed on television today like Mary Jane Paul of “Being Mary Jane” and Nova Bordelon of “Queen Sugar”.
If you are still trying to discover who you are, have a passion or talent and want to pursue it for the rest of your life, are dissatisfied with your body, upset Prince died way too soon, scared of commitment and getting hurt, or sick and tired of being sick and tired….you are a little bit of Nola Darling!
“All the black female form wants is to be is free” – Nola Darling