Spike Lee's 2017 "She's Gotta Have it" for Netflix explores free-thinking and independence through his character Nola Darling; an Artist sticking by her gentrified home of Fort Greene in Brooklyn.
Compared to the time of the original theatrical release in 1986, Lee's late 2017 reinvention addresses what still remains embedded within male/female dynamics today: sexism and patriarchy.
Notions of ownership within intimate relationships and how women are expected to conduct themselves are explored in a manner which provides solace from present 2018 inequality discourse. The latter at times distracts from the core issue, an issue that Lee's 10-part series nails: individuals learning to express their choices and determining a space to do so.
Nola's 'romantic' choices evolve and remain consistent to serve her and her art. At a time when high profile relationships are labelled online with "hashtag goals", this project promotes intimacy outside of social norms which doesn't fit into a pre-determined package that hinders a woman's creative and professional growth.
Outmoded notions of romance aren't given a single look-in throughout this intelligent, nuanced, and very current tale sure to impact in an insightful way. In fact, the only social media parallels exhibited are within the post-production edit: a curated playlist of songs punctuating the entire series, each played within scenes that cut to instagrammable images of nostalgic album art. A creative choice perhaps to the credit of Lee's wife Tonya Lewis Lee who expertly executive produced this adaptation for TV, appealing to the 'new media' content consumer.
The main character's brownstone stoop and eclectic wardrobe reminded me of a late 90's televised female archetype: SATC's Carrie. Makes one wonder about the hundreds of thousands of real life women whom over the decades have sauntered out of their New York apartments also donning original style and attire, none papped for a social app, and living before it was visually cool to be 'urban'.
In the episode with the black dress, we're thrown into the emotional deep-end of body confidence, public shaming, and assault. Themes which are so prevalent now in our post-Weinstein era.
Spike Lee's character journeys through the process of 'becoming' the Artist she is with the help of confidants and community. With a tight cast and characterful storytelling techniques (monologues to camera and split-screen conversations) the plot is a compelling one. I desired to see Nola realise her creative voice rather than see her end up with a mate. It's a story about allowing creativity to manifest, unhindered by social constructs.