10 days ago I decided to write a “screenplay” based on my vision of what a Tyler Perry produced remake of “Love Jones” would look like. Titled “A Sneak-Peek Into “Tyler Perry’s Love Jones”, it gave the first 10 minutes of “Love Jones” the complete Tyler Perry treatment (i.e.: the first scene was set in an Atlanta strip club/hair salon instead of a Chicago poetry spot, the idea of Christianity was beat into the audience’s head, etc).
Now, people familiar with VSB know I’ll occasionally throw out a completely satirical article from time to time — “10 dating and relationship tips from drake” and “the transcript (from every piece ever televised about “successful, but single” black women)” the most notable examples — and most immediately realized this was a joke. I don’t know exactly what gave it away, but if I had to guess, it would have been the very first paragraph of the “screenplay.”
Setting: “The Mortuary” — a popular hair salon/male strip club in Atlanta, Georgia.
As Walter Hawkins’ version of “Goin’ Up Yonder” plays in the backdrop, the camera pans over the highly engaged and eclectic crowd. Peach Snapple, an blaxican male stripper who vaguely resembles a much happier Scottie Pippen, dances on stage while the women sitting in the salon chairs — many of whom still have curlers in their hair — sway to the rhythmic claps of Peach Snapple’s muscular man booty.
But, not everyone came to this same realization, and within several hours, a “Tyler Perry is remaking Love Jones!!!!!!!!!!! No!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” meme began to spread.¹
It started on Twitter.
Then a few message boards picked it up.
After the message boards came the blogs.
After the blogs came the videos.
Some well-intentioned and unfortunate soul even started a freakin’ petition!
By the end of last week, places where people actually get paid to vet and investigate the source and validity of rumors even began to report on it.
(Out of all of the tweets, blogs, and articles, this one was easily the most disappointing. Wilson Morales — the author of this report — didn’t contact VSB, the ONLY source of this rumor, so this quote from his article “…Blackvoices.com has learned through sources how true the rumor is.” is a f*cking lie. )
(To Jenée Desmond-Harris’s credit, she merely reported on BV On Movies’ report, and she cited VSB in her article as well. Still, I was puzzled why she didn’t just name VSB as the source of the rumor.)
Anyway, while reflecting on this entire farce, four thoughts came to mind.
1. The prevalence of the Derek Zoolander-ass n*ggas — people who either can’t or just refuse to actually read — has become pandemic
Last Tuesday, I went on a bit of a rant on Twitter denouncing those who believed this rumor to be true.
irony — people who believed the T.Perry/Love Jones rumor possessed the same traits (ie: not “getting” nuance or humor) they hate Perry for.
and yes, if you thought that shit was true, #shotsfired at you.
sorry about the rant. just had to get it off my chest. and by “get it off my chest” i mean “remind you all why dumb n*ggas need to die!!!”
An hour or so after posting it, I re-read this rant and immediately started to feel uneasy. It seemed elitist, judgmental, and mean. And, while I, um, am elitist, judgmental, and (occasionally) mean, I thought I’d gone too far; harshly mocking people who weren’t as well-read as I am.
I then re-read the original entry, and all thoughts of being too harsh flew out the window.
Seriously, how the f*ck can anyone read that and think it was real???
A movie set in a strip club/hair salon??? A character named Vaseline Williams??? Chris Brown and Rihanna as the leads??? Loretta Devine cast as Rihanna’s Puerto Rican homegirl???
Also, do you know how many major motion pictures have been released where the movie opens to a male stripper bootyclapping while the appreciative crowd nods on rhythm?
(No rush. Take whatever time you need to Google this answer.)
Okay. time’s up. The answer? ZERO!
Why zero? Because it can’t happen!
Why not? Because if you were to put a scene like that in movie, it would immediately go from “major motion picture” to “porno.” There’s no way in hell that anyone, Tyler Perry included, would even consider putting a scene like this in an “R” rated movie.
Anyway, after seeing how far the rumor has gone, it makes perfect sense why a there’s a better chance of Muammar Gaddafi winning a WNBA dunk contest than a black movie winning an Oscar today. While there are pockets of very smart brothas and sistas, we’re either too small in number or too apathetic to drown out the never ending cacophony of idiocy emitting from our brethren and sistren. As long as this is true, the vast majority of our art will continue to pander to this audience. I weep for the young.
2. “Black people” and “satire” just don’t seem to mix very well
Maybe it’s because of the fact that this whole living in America thing has made us hyper-sensitive to any slights, real or perceived. Maybe it’s a bit of a chicken-egg phenomenon — we’re used to a certain type of “call in response” type art, art meant to induce crowd participation, and the only way satire works is if you pay absolutely no attention to the audience and give them no indication that you’re not serious. And, well, maybe the topics near and dear us are satire-proof. (Think about it: Out of the six most prominent cinematic examples of satire produced by black people — “Hollywood Shuffle,” “I’m Gonna Git You Sucka,” “Don’t Be A Menace…,” “Bamboozled,” the underrated “Undercover Brother,” and “Black Dynamite” — three of them parodied the same topic — the blaxploitation era. Maybe there’s really no other “black” era you can safety satirize without trepidation.)
Regardless of the reason, it seems like we tend to like our humor to be a little less subtle and less controversial and uncomfortable. While this by itself isn’t a major issue, I do think this need to be winked at and have stuff spelled out ruins our bullshit detectors as well; leaving us unable to sniff out what’s real and who we need to believe.
I won’t say that believing R. Kelly’s not a pedophile and believing that “The Maintenance Men” were a real group are definitely related, but believing R. Kelly’s not a pedophile and believing that “The Maintenance Men” were a real group are definitely related.
3. Tyler Perry is black America’s Rorschach test
While I’ll continue to chide those who actually read the original entry and still thought it to be true, I can’t really fault a person for seeing a “Tyler Perry is remaking Love Jones” tweet or link and forwarding it before investigating. The level of feeling (positive and/or negative) Perry produces in many black people is indisputably palpable, and it’s understandable that the mere mention he’d remake a movie so near and dear to so many would have people seeing red.
I’ve written before about our angst-ridden discussions about Tyler Perry, so there’s no need to have another one now. But, is there another entertainer who could not only could produce a firestorm by just the thought of their name being attached to a classic, but also have people think he’s crazy/ambitious/unscrupulous/tone deaf/powerful enough to actually do it?²
(My answer? R. Kelly. I might be wrong, but I think if I wrote about the R-uh remaking Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On,” the rumor would have spread just as quickly)
4. We really seem to love us some “Love Jones”
I have to admit, the amount of people so adamant about protecting this movie from Perry’s claws surprised me.³ While I know I was 14 years late in seeing it, I thought I had an accurate grasp on how much resonance it still held with people who have. I was wrong.
We will kill for “Love Jones.” Now, we just need to find a way to kill for “reading comprehension” and “fact-checking” so another Love Jones-like movie can be made.
¹I have to admit that although I wasn’t attempting to start a rumor, once I realized some people actually believed this screenplay to be true, we (Liz, Panama, and I) did everything we could to fan the flames. I think I even signed that damn petition.
²As Panama joked to me last week, the whole “Tyler Perry remaking an iconic black classic” thing isn’t completely out of the realm of possibility. Wouldn’t that be something if he heard the rumor and then thought to himself “Sh*t. Why not? I can do this” and actually did it? If that did actually happen — and my blog was the impetus behind it — would Australia or Antarctica be the best place for me to hide from the millions of bespectacled blacks who’d want to kill me?
³I was also surprised that so many people were surprised I hadn’t seen it until now. I mean, Love Jones made 12 million at the theater. It’s not like the entire country went to go see it, and it’s not like it’s exactly easy to find it on HBO or even TNT. Y’all n*ggas need to get a grip.
- Purchase our new book, Your Degrees Wont Keep You Warm at Night: The Very Smart Brothas Guide to Dating, Mating, and Fighting Crime on Amazon.com
- Get on the VSB VIP List!