One of the great things about turning a 90-minute movie into a 10-episode television show on Netflix is that there is a lot room to grow. For example, in 2017, we know way more about Nola Darling (DeWanda Wise) than we did in the 1986 movie version of She’s Gotta Have It. We know how she pays her rent, how she gets away with not paying it thanks to a family member, what she does for the small living she makes, and what issues she’s passionate about outside of her cluster of lovers. One of the answers to the last question is street harassment. After Nola gets physically attacked by a man while walking home, the artist feels inspired to start a street campaign called #MyNameIsnt _______. Guerrilla style, she sticks posters with the faces of random Black women and the overlaid text reads “My Name Isn’t” followed by the various names she’s been subject to on the street. It’s a powerful campaign that transforms the trajectory of her career, and speaks to a real world issue.
So it makes sense that Netflix wants to take #MyNameIsnt _______ even further. They filmed a short video you can check out below, featuring a group of women of colour that includes Wise and Michaela Angela Davis. Bit by bit, they each share their own stories with street harassment, how it made them feel, and how they clap back. But, most important, the women made it clear what their names are and are not. You can check out the video below.
You can also get involved with their movement. Netflix is encouraging women to share their own experiences with catcalling and street harassment, both online and in real life. The streaming platform has created this dope meme generator that allows women to make art and make a statement. Users upload a picture of themselves, or use the available image of Nola, and complete the phrase ‘MY NAME ISN’T…” before downloading or sharing on social media along with the hashtag. And if you’re in New York, you may have seen one of the five billboards placed around the city to spread awareness.
Spike Lee infused a lot of contemporary social issues into his new show. But this one, the regular harassment of women in public, was the most poignant. It seamlessly fit into the context of the show and Nola’s life. It’s also the issue that makes her most relatable for other women. Lee choosing to lean into the effect of this on women’s lives is one of the things he got right about the show.
She’s Gotta Have It is screaming on Netflix now. Don’t have time to binge watch? Check out our recap here.