She’s Gotta Have It – NOLA AND THE SOCIAL DEVIANT

Welcome to our 2nd class blog. After every film screening and/or with certain topics, you will be asked to comment on the blog. Please incorporate the readings and refer to scenes from the class screening. Feel free to add articles, quotes from other books or blogs (please credit your source) as well as film clips that relate to the topic.

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Please connect the assigned reading on Black women as the “Other” and the “Social Deviant” to She’s Got To Have It. We talked briefly about the concept of the “symbolic whore” and the “good girl vs the bad girl”. How does that relate to his female protagonist, Nola Darling? Please review the article below on She’s Got To Have It and incorporate scenes from the film in your comments/arguments.

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10 thoughts on “She’s Gotta Have It – NOLA AND THE SOCIAL DEVIANT

  1. Nola Darling is no exception when it comes to the “whore” stereotype. “Within the black community, two subgroups of women are simultaneously impacted by film’s negative imagery: black women as social subjects; and black women who represent black female subjects on-screen (Manatu pg.67). It is no doubt that in both cases Black women have been drastically reduced to nothing, causing them to fall into the lowest level of society, not only because of their sexuality but also because of their skin color.
    Nola Darling character reflects the exact picture or stereotype ascribed to African women by society. She is a unseasonable sexual being, aggressive, with no love interest whatsoever, whos only motives is to satisfy her sexual urges. This woman is constantly hated, rejected, not view as unequals because of her life style and sexual behavior breaks the norm (Manatu, pg. 67). She is viewed as the “bad girl”. Although her father describes her as a “good girl ” her social deviant behaviors says otherwise. Spike Lee gives life to Nola, using her as the main character. She is an independent woman as well, so we can say that she is also considered a “Super women ” on top of being the “symbolic whore”. I described her as a super woman because although she tries to please or listen to everybody else at the end of the day she ends up making her own thing. She is powerful, not only because she is independent but because she somehow manages to keep her lovers under her feet. Although they all become fully aware of her sexual deviances they are still interested in her. There is no such thing as a good girl in her character. A good girl as Haste describes her, holds good qualities. Good girls behave according to the norms. They are not sexually driven, and are dependent, childlike. On the other hand withhave Nola who is totally the opposite. As I mentioned before, she is independent, she has more than one sexual partner, and does not see anything wrong with such behavior. This behavior would normally be more common or seem often in the male population, and only accepted by society and applauded by society if performed by a man.

    Nola character indeed represents one of the most popular stereotypes given to African women. She is indeed portrayed as a whore, and with little to none sense of self respect if we were to see it from a societal perspective. As Mamatu argues “while changes in public attitudes toward black men ha[ve] occurred, there ha[s] not been any change in negative images of black women”. Black women are still being seen as hyper sexual beings. They are still being portrayed as something negative, oppressed not only in their homes but as well as in the outside world.

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    • Karen, you made some great points but I disagree when you describe Nola by saying, “She is powerful, not only because she is independent but because she somehow manages to keep her lovers under her feet.” It appears that Spike Lee wants us to believe that Nola is a strong independent woman who has control of her life and sexuality but what he is really saying is when women, black women in particular, take on the traits and characteristics on men, sexually free, independent and determined, they are punished. Nola is not only viewed but treated as a deviant, a symbolic whore. Mars, calls her a “freak,” Greer says she is “sick” and Jamie wants to control her. As you so correctly noted, she is not a good girl like her roomate, Clorinda. Through the male gaze of her lovers, she is portrayed as a whore, as Haste describes as a hyper sexual deviant. She not only takes on the characteristic of the Superwoman, as you noted, one who is successful in her professional life but fails in love but more importantly becomes the Jezebel, one who has no real desire for love only sex and the ability to manipulate and control others through her body. Good use of quotes. For future blogs, connect the quotes to scenes. Some of your comments contradicted each other but overall you were able to tie together some of your main ideas!

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  2. The concept of the symbolic whore, good girl vs. bad girl and social deviance all relate to Nola Darling in She’s Got to Have It. Nola Darling is overtly promiscuous and is not portrayed as a woman who is concerned of the consequences of being promiscuous or how it may tarnish her reputation. In reference to social deviance, Nola is well over the boundary of violating social norms. As a woman in our society, we are expected to behave, look, speak and think in a particular way. Women are not to be promiscuous or act in sexual manners without being frowned upon; according to society, women are suppose to only display sexual affection with her partner; which is assumed to only be one person at a time. In this film, Nola had three sexual partners who she was involved with simultaneously; she did not hide the men from one another and was always very honest about who she was and what she liked. Nola Darling’s sexual behavior would classify her as a bad girl, but her personality still deemed her as a soft spoken, independent, sweet, nice person, which is typically characteristics of a “good girl”. In chapter four, Haste refers to the idea of “women as whore”. He also describes how the women as whore is an extremely potent media image; Nola is prime example. Nola Darling’s character represents the idea of a symbolic whore. She’s very sexual and is often seen in the movie as disconnected from emotional feelings in regards to the men she had intimate relationships with. In a society where being a whore is not ideal for a woman and is seen as the wrong way to carry one’s self, Nola does not identify her behavior as an issue. Though towards the end of the movie she seeked help for her promiscuous lifestyle because she believed she had a problem, I think she only felt that way because those around her made her feel as if what she was doing was wrong. In her own mind and consciousness, Nola identified her overtly sexual behavior as her freedom.

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    • Takiera, good connection to Nola as the symbolic whore. As a stereotype she is also associated with the Superwoman, independent and self sufficient . But she is also viewed as the Jezbel for having male sexually tendicies like being sexually liberated and having multiple partners. She is portrayed as the bad girl and the symbolic whore for wanting to be with more than one man, being honest about her feelings and desires. And she is punished for not falling into line as to what a woman is suppose to be. The film even created a typical good girl in her roommate Clorinda, ro represent the standards all women, espcially black women are to aspire to. Good job! Always incorporate an exact quote(s) and describe a scene that demonstates the stereotype the female lead reflects.

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  3. $175,000, in Twelve days Spike Lee became so Stop correcting “successful” that he decided to create a sequel that airs on cable. the 21st century film begins where the 20th century film left off, with minimal roles diversification inn the visual depiction of Black Woman in films (Mantau,9).the protagonist ( Nola Darling) is black woman with a feminist role reversal in Brooklyn in the late 1980. She is dating three men. Each have their own types of characters. Which might have represented the different time periods of the protagonist life at one time or another One of the men, Jamie (Tommy Redmond Hicks), whom the New York Times referred as “sensitive and responsible(.05/14/2014 10:30 am ET) .Tracy Camilla Johns cast as (Nola Darling in the She Got to Have It) She is dating three men. Each have their own types of characters. Which might have represented the different time periods of the protagonist life at one time or another. One of the men, Jamie (Tommy Redmond Hicks), whom the New York Times referred as “penetrating and accountable (05/14/2014 10:30 am ET) but too possessive and predictable for Nola’s, he wants her as a wife but he must compete with Mars Blackmon(Lee) an unemployed Brooklyn native of the rap music, he appears to be somewhat immature perhaps reminding Nola of her younger childhood days. Greer Childs a Cultured Model, a preening, self-absorbed who thinks he can buy his way into society. He appears as though he can take Nola to upper class of society. which appear financial security. Perhaps in the Man’s world these are some the quality they are looking for. Nevertheless, Nola fool around with all three men, inviting them to thanksgiving dinner. Tragically each these men are known are a fragment of bigger picture. Nola will need a portion of each the three man to complete a whole man. Perhaps consequently men think they need a stable different woman to appease their diversity. in this circumstances the truth was be told to each of the men. If we were to flip the script, would the man tell each of his female friends about one another? I think not. Sometimes this can be a dangerous thing. However, Nola finally did come to her self-dropping all three fellows. Attitudes about love are inculcated into both sexes where cultural imprints of “feminine” and the masculine are fostered and encouraged. (Manatu,51). Why can’t a woman have characteristics like a man? Why does she have to Jezebel? This is another to put labels on people and to place them categories to status quo them. That is Nola does as she pleases, she will eventually come to the realization that it not working, and change her prospective. What good for the goose is good for the gander. According Manatu (51) gender processing involves from birth, traditional culture. Men are socially constructed as instrumentalist, independent, dominant and rational aggressive. These distinctive behaviors are not just for men only. Woman can have the same characteristic. When it comes to She Got to Have it there is a number of issue about the role she plays, superwoman equal a superman, however the protagonist start out with one attitude and she grow to love herself greater by not spread self so thinly.

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    • Great use of quotes but you gave more of an overview of the movie and how the men in Nola’s life viewed her. You made some good points in describing how men are socially constructed especially as to how they are viewed in the film and connect to the female lead but you didnt connect her to a stereotype. Which is the main point of the this class assignment. Based on our conversations and the class readings, you could connect Nola to a number of stereotypes, specificially the Jezebel as well as the Superwoman. From your prespective, what scenes would connect her to one or both of those stereotypes. What quotes would help connect the stereotype of the symbolic whore or the Jezebel to Nola. According to Manatu in Chapter one, she states “The media persistence in presenting black women in substandard roles of the oversexed jezebel….” Another way to present your observations in relations to the reading is that the men in film as well as the filmmakers are determined to present and treat Nola as a whore and a freak. Not as the sexually liberated and independent woman she wants to be or should be shown as. Greer calls her sick, Mars says she is a freak and even her father indicates that she is not normal. There is no room for her to be and when she attempts to submit, she is abandoned by the man she reaches out to for love and committment. There is no love for Nola and she is punished for being true to herself as well as being honest to the men in the her life.

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  4. Cindy – As with many films written about females through the eyes of a male, She’s Gotta Have It (1986), directed and written by Spike Lee, becomes problematic. It appears to be a film about female sexual liberation but falls far from that tree as its female protagonist, Nola Darling, is just another character created to succumb to the desires of the men in her life. Nola is an artist, she lives in what can be considered a large studio on her own and has no obvious financial troubles. This becomes the first look of Nola as what can be considered an “independent woman.” Nola also has three boyfriends, who each know about the other and are often fighting for her undivided attention. Each boyfriend, Jamie, Greer, and Mars have something to say about Nola’s seemingly “odd” ways but still, want to have her entirely to themselves. When considering the “symbolic whore,” and Nola Darling, viewers have the fact that Lee has already removed her from being a romantic figure. She has three boyfriends and has sex with all three, therefore placing her in the category of the “symbolic whore.”. She lacks what would be considered appropriate femininity because her characteristics fall so closely to what the usual characteristics are to describe maleness. Lee does attempt to present Nola as the heroine but with her final dependence and continually seeking approval from the men in her life, Lee just adds on the true lack of full female independence. According to Manatu, “the cinematic heroine, like the romance novel heroine, has been depicted as genteel, intelligent, virginal and beautiful, conditions representative of female respectability. She may even be incorrigible but rarely does she veer afar from the genteel lady that she inherently is” (50). Nola presents a majority of these characteristics but her undisguised sexuality removes her entirely. Lee again just continues to present Nola as yet another woman who needs a man in her life to be truly happy. The film is completely in black and white with the exception of the scene involving Nola and Jamie on her birthday. Jamie tells Nola to close her eyes and click her heels and say “There’s no place like home,” an obvious reference to the film The Wizard of Oz (1939), and we are then transported to Prospect Park in full color for Jamie’s birthday gift to Nola. Though this scene involved no sexual encounters, it was a dance scene in full color. One can, therefore, consider the fact that Nola needs Jamie in her life to see everything in color rather than in black and white. Her dependence on Jamie is what Lee presents to show her incapacity to live freely as a woman. Nola Darling is a strong character but considered too strong for the eyes of Lee and keeps her depending on her men.

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    • Cindy, a lot of great observations in relations to Nola being a sympoblic whore. As an audience watching this film, we are set up to believe that Nola is a beyond average single black female. A modern woman doing it for herself. Enjoying the aspirations and freedoms of middle class life in a post civil rights era and female sexuality of the post women’s rights and sexual revolution eras. But, we quickly find out that a woman who has the same sexual desire and freedom of a man is treated like a whore or as Greer and Mars refers her, “a freak.” As Manatu states, “White actresses occupy roles that include romantic heroines, socio-political heroines, action heroines, bored housewives, sexual psychopath and adventure seekers.” But Nola and more importantly, Tracy Camilla Johns as an actress is not allowed to occupy that type of role as any kind of heroine. Her character is demeaned, verbally abused, raped and in the end left alone. And as you so correctly stated, she failed to keep and maintain her Prince Charming, “Jamie” as the color footage indicated. She fails to have a happy ending and to be a true female protagonist much less a romanctic or cinematic heroine.

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  5. Stacia Brown said it best, “There is cause for celebration here. Nola Darling is a character worthy of revival in 2014. Bohemian, sex-positive, and ambitious, Darling is, at her core, a timeless character. Reviewers called her (and Lee’s film) ahead of their time.”

    “She was simply a self-possessed career woman embarking on an odyssey of personal independence and emotional freedom.”

    Throughout the movie Nola was portrayed as a symbolic whore or jezebel but neither are true, she was getting to know each one of her suitors and she was not having sex with them to gain anything. The truth is, this intelligent, outgoing, goal driven good woman with traits that those men and society considered bad. Yes she was seeing 3 men at the same time, but tell me what did she do differently then say Spike Lee’s character Mars. In the birthday scene when Jaime hung up the phone, Mars calls Roxanne. “Yo, Roxanne what up I’ve been thinkin about you.” So you are telling me that Mars is not seeing others while he dates Nola, would that place him in the same category that the other men saw Nola as. The socially accepted practice of the double standard, men can date and have sex with multiple women and they are considered the man but if a woman does it then she is considered the whore. Nola told the truth never hide her intentions with any of them nor tried to keep them if they did not want to be kept, but each man felt like Nola owed something to them and she should be owned by them. She even invited all 3 to dinner ending with Nola getting frustrated, walking away from the dinner stating, “If I’d have known that all three of you grown men were gonna……behave like children, I would have rather had a quiet meal by myself. I’m going to bed. Good night!”

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    • Magda, I dont think you see the film for what is was but what it pretended to be. We are expected to believe that Nola Darling is this truly liberated woman who has free sexual agency over her mind and body. Is she a traditional jezebel defined as, “the prostitute and whore” who uses sex to manipulate and control, no! But, she is still looked as the sexaul deviant. As the audience, we are mislead to believe that her independance and carefree spirit is good. If you remember from our discussion in class, we talked about how Nola was viewed as a deviant not from her own actions but how the men in her life viewed her, including her father. As Manatu states, “by its very nature, the gender construct condemns certain women into “whores,” women who must satiate the “masculine urge.” Thus, conforming to the “appropriate’ sexual rule for the “feminine” generally means many women are caught in an untenable situation. To be sexual is to be masculine and aggressive and to be feminine is to be pure, white and respectable. When Mars and Greer call Nola a freak and crazy for having three lovers its not to empower her but to belittle her. Jamie rapes her in an attempt to put her in her place and control her. To subvert her sexual behavior, she is allowed to explore and express her behavior. To your point, the whole film is about the double standards between women and men. Its in essence to serve as an example that the sexually liberated, educated and empowered black woman will be punished if they expect to be on equal grounds with men. In regards to your quote from a review regarding SGTHI revival, it would only be successful if Nola is portrayed as a trully liberated woman in control and responsible for her own sexual agency.

      For all positing. please incorporate the readings into your comments.

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