Whoa! I definitely didn’t see this coming!
In short, Spike Lee is teaming up with Showtime to develop a half-hour TV series based on his cherished, though problematic feature film debut, She’s Gotta Have It.
This was the film that essentially introduced Spike Lee to the world (Joe’s Bed-Stuy Barbershop: We Cut Heads aside, which won the Student Academy Award and got Spike an agent); a film that celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2011.
It’s also a film that was initially given an X-rating by the MPAA. Why? The exact quote, according to Spike, was that the MPAA said it was “saturated with sex.”
Thus Spike had to re-edit the film three times, and still then it was considered too risque; So he released it first in New York unrated, but was contractually obligated to deliver an R-rated movie, if he wanted to get paid, and eventually did.
What was Spike’s response to the whole thing?
“I don’t think it’s out-and-out racist, but the film portrays blacks outside stereotypical roles, and they don’t know what to do with blacks in films. They never have any love interests. Nick Nolte is the one who has a relationship in 48 Hours. And when it comes to black sexuality, they especially don’t know how to deal with it. They feel uncomfortable. There are films with more gratuitous sex and violence. 9 1/2 weeks got an “R.” And look at Body Double.”
How little has changed in 25 years! There’s still very much this suppression of *black sexuality* in mainstream cinema, so much that some of our stars seem to have even given up, or given in to these tacit “agreements,” if we can call them that.
I’d say that since the Blaxploitation period ended, black sexual expression has been noticeably absent from mainstream cinema.
The Showtime adaptation will likely be set in the present day, and given that it’s on cable TV (premium at that), I expect Spike will deliver something for adults, “saturated with sex,” etc. But seriously, I’d expect that a She’s Gotta Have It written and directed by a much older, wiser, and mature Spike Lee will certainly be different than the 1985 version that we’re all familiar with, and that saw its fair share of criticism.
It’s too early to tell what story the serial adaption will tell, and whether the same characters, played by Tracy Camilla Johns, Tommy Redmond Hicks, John Canada Terrell and Lee himself, will be updated for the series, or if this will be something entirely new and fresh.
By the way, if you still haven’t read it, I can’t recommend enough that you do: Spike Lee’s Gotta Have It: Inside Guerrilla Filmmaking; Think of it as the godfather of the S&A Filmmaker Diary series in book form.
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