Spike Lee recently announced that he’s teaming up with Showtime to turn his debut 1986 film “She’s Gotta Have It” into a miniseries. As my colleague Stacia L. Brown writes at the Washington Post, there’s plenty of reason to worry:
There’s just one dark cloud looming over this otherwise wonderful news: Spike Lee himself. Lee is reportedly writing and directing the Showtime series, and anyone familiar with his treatment of women characters in the near-30-year span since the original “She’s Gotta Have It” knows why this might give viewers pause.
It’s true that Lee created the free-spirited avant garde Nola of our nostalgic longing. But he also undermined her agency by writing in a scene wherein one of her suitors, Jamie Overstreet, intends to “tame” her into monogamous commitment by forcing himself on her. If one of the film’s conceits is to run Nola’s sexual freedom through the sieve of “traditional” gender role reversal, where a woman is the more vocal, proactive party in sexual pursuits and men are, for the most part, compliant with her whims, then the assault reads as cautionary: Women like Nola cannot trifle with men, lest they “put her in her place.”