Spike Lee’s New York

Spike Lee New York

One would still think of She’s Gotta Have It when they want to take a stroll in the 80’s New York…

Spike Lee’s first feature-length film depicts the story of a sexually independent black woman Nola Darling (Tracy Camilla Johns) who sleeps and plays with three men at the same time. These men, Jamie (Tommy Redmond Hicks), Mars (Spike Lee), and Greer Childs (John Canada Terrell) express their feelings for her directly to the viewer. Although the film centers Nola, the film caused much controversy when it first came out. The views that oppose the film were mostly from the feminist wing of the 80s, reading it as a derogatory take on women’s sexuality.

The title itself has a role in this, setting a framework for the viewer: ‘She’s Gotta Have It’. The “it” can mean two things: it can be either sex or it can mean the punishment of Nola. Of course, the viewer might not think of the latter at first hand, but it is explicitly related to “breaking up” which is the ultimate punishment that Jamie sees fit for Nola when he whispers in her ear: “One day you’re gonna wake up from this bed and I’m gonna be long gone”. Whether or not the film depicts Nola as an object of desire that is left aside after having been used is still uncertain; one thing is for certain about why this film remains as a cult and that is the way Spike Lee represents New York and the Black women who live in it.


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