Spike Lee knows an arresting image when he sees it.
The Dec. 8, 2015, Page One of the Philadelphia Daily News, with a shot of then-presidential candidate Donald Trump over the headline, “The New Furor,” gets a brief revival as part of a montage at the beginning of the eighth episode of Lee’s new Netflix series, She’s Gotta Have It, based on his own 1986 film.
The episode, “#LoveDontPayDaRent (IF YOU DON”T KNOW ME BY NOW),” opens on the evening of Nov. 8, 2016 — Election Day, in case you’ve forgotten — with a montage of front pages and other images and a song from Stew & the Negro Problem, “Klown Wit Da Nuclear Code,” that begins, “A klown had a go at a reality show, which 24/7 played.” The montage first shows a New York Daily News Page One declaring “Clown Runs for Prez” and showing an image of Trump altered to include a red nose and clown makeup.
It’s not the first time someone’s been struck by the Philadelphia Daily News’ page. “New York Daily News, you’re on notice. There’s a new contender for the ‘most provocative’ front page of the 2016 campaign,” wrote Callum Borchers on the Washington Post politics blog The Fix that day, noting the “tight profile shot of Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump, right arm extended up and out at a 45-degree angle.”
The new She’s Gotta Have It stars DeWanda Wise as Nola Darling, an artist living in Brooklyn’s gentrifying Fort Greene neighborhood.
“Very often, beautiful art is created in very ugly times. And we’re entering a very ugly period,” intones Wallace Shawn, who plays an art critic, as we see how several of the show’s characters react to the election, including Nola, who paints a portrait of President Barack Obama with his wife, Michelle, and their daughters, Sasha and Malia.
After that, She’s Gotta Have It returns to its regularly scheduled programming, with a tight focus on Nola’s private and professional concerns, which include juggling multiple lovers and trying to pay her rent through art.