(The Champ’s latest at EBONY on whether he’s more critical of Black movies than he is with other types of films)
I really wanted to like this movie. Really, really. And since it didn’t happen, I started to feel bad about it. Ashamed, even. Why? Well, aside from Love Jones (which I loved), I’ve been pretty unenthused about most of the movies in the bougie Black romantic canon. (This includes The Best Man, Love and Basketball, Brown Sugar, Just Wright, Why Did I Get Married, etc.) But, a few “White” romantic comedies made in that same period (Chasing Amy and High Fidelity, in particular) are among my favorite movies.
Was this my litmus test? Had I become one of “those” types of Black folks? The ones who laugh harder at jokes written by White writers, not because they relate to them more, but because since a White person wrote them, the jokes must be “better?” The ones who are unnecessarily hard on and critical of Black things, Black movies included?
After a couple days, I found an answer.
No. And yes.
No because, while there are dozens of Black-themed movies I didn’t like and had/have no interest in seeing, there are many I liked. Some I loved. Which mirrors my feelings about movies in general. Most are forgettable. Some are good. An even smaller percentage are great. But most are somewhere between “that was okay, I guess” and “eh.” It stands to reason that Black movies would follow that same trend. In fact, when thinking about the three Black-themed movies I saw at the theater this year, they did. One (Fruitvale Station) was great. I thought the other two (The Best Man Holiday and 42) were not. It’s not that I’m more critical of Black movies. I’m just not less critical of them than I am on other movies.
That said, I admit I may have been a bit more critical of The Best Man Holiday than I would have been with a “White” movie with a similar theme. When a movie features young, urban, professional Black people—basically, people like me—and receives praise for creating realistic and relatable characters and themes, I am going to be sensitive to the realness and relatability. If this is supposed to be some facsimile of the types of lives led by the type of people I know, and everyone’s saying they get it right, I want to see if they got it right. And, when it contains too many things that just could not have ever, never, ever, never happened in the same bougie Black universe I occupy—like married men sharing explicit sexual details about their wives (Why don’t movies ever get Black male conversations right???)—I can’t help but notice it.
(Read the rest at EBONY)