She’s Gotta Have It

The 2017 Netflix Series Cover.

Spike Lee has a new show on Netflix, “She’s Gotta Have It.” I’m researching polyamorous relationships and pansexuals.  I was excited to see a free-spirited black woman in this Trump era.  The trailer made a lot of promises.  I loved that the lead actress is brown with thick hair.  I loved that she was an artist.  She’d have to be to be evolved enough to live free.  I think polyamory, though I am not is a type of freedom that requires a higher level of responsibility.  Freedom is responsibility.

Not long after I pressed play, I wondered if Lee knew any polyamourous pansexual people.  The Lesbians I know swore him off after “She Hate Me,” even after I tried to save him by saying, his sister is a lesbian.  It was like saying, no that man can’t be sexist or patriarchal, he has a mother and sisters. It didn’t go over well. I thought “She Hate Me” flipped the script and made men commodities.

More importantly, he seems to be a cool person with good intentions. I’ve been to one of Lee’s talks.  He’s the kind of person you’d love to catch dinner with and just hear his thoughts on politics, religion and the economy.  He feels like family.  On top of that, he supports black artistry and introduces unknown actors and musicians.  I love that he employs black people and gives us an opportunity to see our complexities.  Crooklyn is still one of my favorite movies.  What he did with Malcolm X made me forget what the real Malcolm X looked like for a while.

Chi-rock… Lawd.  As an artist though, you have to take risks.  Most filmmakers use what they’ve learned about motion photography to tell a story.  Lee uses his own interests, passions, heritage, family, and friends to tell his stories. I can’t tell what film directors made certain films and that’s their skill set.  I always know when it’s a Spike Lee Joint and that’s his genius.  Still, with all the love I have for Lee I couldn’t make it through the first episode.  Disappointed with myself, I’m thinking I didn’t have the right context or mindset.

I forget that Spike Lee’s films are art.  Most of his projects feel like stage plays with the world as its set.  The mood is set by black and white stills, amazing music, and monologues.  I looked up “She’s Gotta Have It,” because it sounded familiar. It is.  This Netflix series is based on Lee’s 1986 movie with the same title.  Now I want to see it, maybe first.

Original 1986 “She’s Gotta Have It” cover.

Based on previews, Lee’s series is following the movie closely.  Except Lee had some regrets about the 1986 “She’s Gotta Have It,” that he addresses. I hope he uses his freedom to imagine Nola Darling as an actualized individual.  I am looking forward to seeing the 1986 version to see what has changed now that he is older and has a larger budget.  I’m interested to see if it would have been weird if there was more showing than telling?  If instead of having Nola start the series narrating, she was speaking in her head the way we all do.  Let us hear her thoughts as she lives her life, rather than have her narrate… I’ve always felt narration was for books written in the third person or where the character isn’t’ honest.  It’s difficult to do this well, it’s a skill.
Without any background and forgetting Spike Lee’s style, my initial feeling was… This is so heavyhanded. It insults the audience’s abilities to follow the storyline.  Still, maybe after both Spike Lee and I am long gone, people will recognize and celebrate Lee’s genius.

I plan to come back. Maybe let it play in the background and hope it will pull me in. Some of my favorite musicians have collections like this.  You fight getting into the groove because it’s the wrong vibration for that moment.  Sometimes, we even fight parts of ourselves and then we realize we are flawed and that’s why we’re beautiful.