Dating, Relationships, & Sex, Pop Culture, Theory & Essay

Where’s The Love Jones?

love-jones

***After watching Love Jones again last weekend, I was urged to revisit and revise something I wrote about the film for the Loop21 a few years ago***

Approximately halfway through Love Jones, the iconic 1997 romantic drama centered around a Chicago-area couple, protagonists Darius Lovehall (Larenz Tate) and Nina Mosley (Nia Long) attend a dance together—their first real “date” since a few somewhat contrived situations caused them to momentarily break away from each other. Predictably, the date goes extremely well. The otherworldly connection and chemistry Darius and Nina share is palpable, and, despite any romantic roadblocks (contrived or otherwise or just named “Bill Bellamy”), you know that things are going to work for them.

But, while this date night dance scene’s main purpose was to give the audience a visual segue from Darius and Nina’s short-term separation to their impending romance, writer/director Ted Witcher does something else, something a bit subtler and a bit more poignant. With the vibrant music, colorfully coordinated dance steps, and equally colorful (and equally coordinated) attire, Witcher introduces the audience to the world of Chicago steppin’—a derivative of swing dancing popular in the South and Midwest. Although the scene is only a couple minutes long, Witcher presents this dance phenomenon and the anonymous steppers to us with the same regard, enchantment, and love exhibited when the lens is focused on any of the main characters.

Says the late Roger Ebert:

“There’s electricity when they go on a date to the weekly steppers’ ball hosted by Herb Kent the Cool Gent, who plays himself. Steppin’ is a Chicago dance style that comes out of jitterbug, cooled down, and as we watch this scene we get that interesting feeling when a fiction film edges toward documentary and shows us something we haven’t seen before.”

In the 16 years since its release (damn, just typing that made me feel old as f*ck) Love Jones has gone from underappreciated romantic drama with a banging soundtrack to the cinematic standard for realistic black romance. (Well, “realistic” other than the fact that it featured a bunch of underemployed negros living in lofts…with exposed brick…in Chicago. But, who’s nitpicking?)

And, while the story and the chemistry between Tate and Long are the most memorable aspects of the film, Love Jones is held in such high regard because Ted Witcher was so obviously in love with everything he put into this movie. More than just a drama, it was an ode to Black culture, to Chicago, to music, to movies, to love, to words, to sex; a paean to the possibilities of people not constrained to 140 characters or less. It’s loved and appreciated because it loved and appreciated both its characters and its audience, a trait also found in Soul Food—a movie that, although not necessarily a romantic drama and not as universally praised as Love Jones, shared Love Jones’ love for its characters and their customs.

These movies, and the level of love and exuberance they were shot with, stand in stark contrast to much of today’s Black romantic fare—both at the theater and on the small screen—which seems to be content with browbeating the audience with messages so heavy-handed it feels like you’re being kicked. (Before this devolves into another angst-ridden conversation about all things wrong with Tyler Perry, I do think that Perry loves his characters. But, Ike loved Tina too, didn’t he?) Instead of a peek into a world we may not have been completely familiar with, we’re left with 60 to 120 minute long psychotherapy sessions and self-help pamphlets featuring people who have never existed on Earth, After Earth, or any other planet humans have ever lived on—movies where writers and directors use the screen as a palate to work out their own issues instead of allowing the audience a chance to be vicarious.

Maybe this cinematic shift is our doing. Maybe our expectations have devolved to the point that we wouldn’t be able to handle a Black movie with more love and nuance than ill will and temple knocking. Still, after watching Love Jones again last weekend, I think we’re ready for another one. We just need to find the love needed to pull it off.

—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)

Damon Young

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB. He is also a contributing editor for EBONY.com. He resides in Pittsburgh, and he really likes pancakes.

  • Malik

    Generational divide man. Not just the movies. My generation doesn’t really talk about recklessly, beautifully, and entirely in all-consuming love anymore.

    • JuiceCrewAllStar

      ‘Cause there ain’t no such thing, homie. At least nothing that lasts more than 120 minutes (or a few weeks, max).

      And I think it’s freeing to understand that.

    • AfroPetite

      *swoon*

    • Sboogietime

      *sigh. agreed. unfortunately.

    • Sboogietime

      *sigh. agreed. unfortunately.

    • Sahel

      hard to put all consuming love in 140 characters.

      • E. Reed

        I say cause most of the Black movies released over the past ten years have been thinly veiled sermons and self-help books. It’s become a trend and the formula followed with Black entertainment. These type of films don’t allow for believable, organic, and realistic display of relationships. Instead, we are stuck with the Why Did I Get Married, Think Like a Man, and Not Easily Broken flicks that are so hellbent on pushing a message to black folks that it becomes contrite and a classic cannot be birthed from that

    • Wild Cougar

      Somebody convinced you young people that love and hope is for suckers. Everybody wanna play musical chairs with everybody, keeping people on option status while you scan your fb, twitter, Gchat, and whatever else you chirren are using to keep from being present and vulnerable. Then its your birthday or you get caught being the one without a chair while your “friends” are out making their “look at me I’m having so much fun” pictures. Do you decide to quit playing musical chairs and get real with people? They’ll call you thirsty, think you are uncool. You’ll stop getting invited to stuff so you can take pics and look cool which gets you invited to stuff where you act detached. And be detached. First one showing feelings is a rotten egg.

      If you’re gonna die anyway, why not get started early?

      • kid video

        You should write a newsletter…says the person who lives in the 1960’s.

        • Wild Cougar

          Ha! I wasn’t even alive in the 1960s.

          • Wild Cougar

            wait….*counts on fingers*…….

            ok, maybe I was, but still.

            • kid video

              Haha…I figured ur a mid-70s baby.

      • AfroPetite

        Tell Generation Y how you really feel about us WC :-)

        *takes a selfie, oogles at pert breasts, updates social network statuses and waits for the flood of men to worship at my narcissistic alter*

        • sahel

          Busy friending afro petite to ogle like a nonsense

        • Wild Cougar

          I love generation Y (and Z). I spend lots of time with the chirren. Its hard trying to be present and real with people who are trying hard not to be. You get a little resentful.

      • https://twitter.com/ qilanobee

        What a great assertion to the evolution of “love” in this day and age. My question is will there be a momentum change or is it all downhill from here? I hope for the change but humanity has always lowered my expectations at one time or another.

      • BriA

        Ya know. I’m gonna have to agree with you WC. It seems like love and relationships these days are a game of lets see “who gets played first.” If I tell you how I feel about you then I look desperate and you may not reciprocate, so I’m gonna play with you and make you think I care but when you return the favor I’m gonna act nonchalant because I’ve already gotten my ego boost. K Thanx Bye. *sigh*

        • AfroPetite

          I think the same values placed on love today vs the love of yesteryear are the same.

          Social networking has only magnified what was already happening with the same frequency back in the 70s, 80s, and blah blah blah. Objects in the mirror may be closer than they appear.

          • sahel

            Does afropetite belive in happily ever after

          • http://www.twitter.com/epsilonicus Eps

            I hate the glorification of past relationships. So many folks married because they had to. Especially because women did not have the same economic opportunities as they do now.

            • BriA

              I agree. I don’t believe in that whole relationships were great back in the day stuff. I didn’t really mean “these days” as if this kind of stuff didn’t happen back then. My grandparents were married 50 years. But you know what happened in those 50 years? My granddad cheated on my gm, he was abusive to both her and their kids, and he was mean until the day he died. But, my gm stayed with him “for the kids.”

              • Sweet GA Brown

                Same for my gd and gm. After 12 children and no real skills, I suppose it was hard for my gm to leave my gd in the 60s or 70s.

              • Nikki

                Wow I think we must be related! Same thing with my grandparents. They looked good on paper. Married 75 years, by some grace of God owned their own land in the deep south, and had with 6 kids all of which graduated with a degree from college. What that paper doesn’t show is the abuse and the 3 additional kids my granddad had outside the marriage. And my grandma could do nothing but endure it because she had never been on her own. She never had a job or even a driver’s license up until the day she died. In my eyes she was held hostage in a bad situation. If those are the “good old days” that people speak of they can miss me with that.

            • AfroPetite

              *deep sigh*

              The constant romanticization of anything prior to the year 2000 is equally annoying and exhausting.

              This “Back in my Day” sentiment…..miss me with “your day” and how hot everything was in 1988 back when people “loved each other”, gas was $0.75 and music was full of respectable values.

              Folks were still cheating and scheming, music was just as deplorable, and life wasn’t a crystal stair for you then either.

              • Wild Cougar

                I know how you feel. I hate that ish, too. I’m not saying things were great back then. I’m just saying we didn’t have an escape hatch for dealing with each other. Unless you count call waiting and voice mail.

              • Demondog 06

                the music was better….all you need today is image, fruity loops and a twitter account

        • http://learninglover.com AfterMath

          I think that’s one view of it, but I’d say its just a reaction to getting played. How’s the saying go – fool me once shame on me fool me twice … -? So people are just more likely to have their guards up. But I think for most (some) this is just a phase too and then they meet somebody and it goes back into that lovey dovey phase again and the cycle repeats itself.

      • Rewind

        I’d rock with you on this one but let me ask a question that totally f*cks with the notion of what you said.

        What exactly should I be looking forward to? What exactly should any young person be looking forward to?

        Real talk, the game of love is like the economy. All the people of my generation got told a Disney version of the it that made life sound simple and guaranteed. Then we got older, realized everything we ever learned was a lie, and the only thing the same people who taught us all this bullsh_it can say is “oops…sorry, didn’t mean to f*ck up your entire life but we couldn’t help it”.

        I don’t like being cynical, but I also can’t expect things to be different when we all got the short stick.

        • http://missrosen.wordpress.com esa

          ~ What exactly should I be looking forward to? What exactly should any young person be looking forward to?

          self actualization is its own reward. for me, anyway. far beyond anything i could have ever envisioned for myself as little as a year ago. whoa. yea.

          love is unconditional. where did i read this great quote about love, that it gives without limit and without seeking reward.

          to know this is something that has profound effect. to practice this is to become transcendent.

          why grasp the short stick when you can drop it altogether in favor of nothing short of complete freedom ?

          • Rewind

            I’m with you on complete freedom. Whatever TV & movies portray as love, I learned to let that fairy tale sh*t go a long time ago, and make my own discovery of love. I find it to be the best and worst thing a human being could ever experience. I call it “Life’s Perfect Equalizer”. I just refuse to cuten it up and make it seem all enchanting…at least for me. I can’t speak for other people, but everyone I know is jaded as hell and don’t believe in the fairy tale either. We are just trying to live and do what we can so that hopefully happiness will follow suit.

            • http://missrosen.wordpress.com esa

              fairy tales and love are mutually exclusive categories. to confuse the two is to limit the heart’s ability to share of the soul with the world.

              art is art. i love it on so many levels, it fuels my passion and my being. but bigger than art is love, and love, for me, has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with other people’s perceptions, messages, and interpretations. for me, love is simply being in the most positive and empowering place i can be.

              it is being of my essence, and sharing that without need. that, to me, is freedom ~*~

              • Rewind

                Ok. You have a different connection to love than I do. I have to base my opinions on my experiences. It is not that I don’t believe things won’t change and look better, but the majority of examples I have to work with are quite bleek.

                • http://missrosen.wordpress.com esa

                  ~ the majority of examples I have to work with are quite bleek.

                  i was this til it was suffocating me. it was bad. i felt i had no choice so i chose to commit my entire being to a paradigm shift.

                  now dont get me wrong, the darkness lingers. i’m not out of the woods. but i commit to living into a higher purpose because i have decided that this is what my life is for ~*~

                  • Rewind

                    I understand. I’ve dedicated my life to sharing what I have with others. My journey becomes their guide book. I feel like what I go through cna help answer questions most people don’t even niow they should think of. A purpose fuels us when life leaves us lingering.

        • Wild Cougar

          Love is good for its own sake. It’s not the happy ever after story. Nothing is forever. It will end. To me, the harder you love, the closer you are to God and your purpose on earth. You are not entitled to win. If you are loving for what you get in the end, you are not loving. You are investing in yourself. The point is to invest in someone else. You get to love, that’s the privilege of being.

          • Rewind

            See….that’s what I’d like to hear more often. But I don’t. I hear sugar-coated nonesense and that is what irks me. I know in my heart now love is not forever. There is no such thing as forever. If you find something in this life that encourages your heart to reach its maximum potential, then you give it everything you have until there is nothing left. And if you do come to the end, you appreciate the ride, rather than being upset it is over. But when I say these things to other people, they look at me strange, claim blasphemy, and think my heart is made of stone. Even expressing this to the person I’ve been in relationship with for 6 years, she thinks I’m being as-shole.

            But ok, you reaffirmed what I was hoping was true.

            • Sweet GA Brown

              “If you find something in this life that encourages your heart to reach its maximum potential, then you give it everything you have until there is nothing left.”

              I believe in this 100%. Ppl think I’m ice cold about men/relationships but the truth is that I really feel that Im ready to give my all to the next person I’m with but I care about myself and my feelings a great deal. Im not going to let someone play with emotions if I can help it. Im just chilling until that one person comes along and allows my potential to have a healthy love grow into something that brings me personal joy.

              • Rewind

                EXACTLY! That’s all it is.

          • http://learninglover.com AfterMath

            Are you talking about “love” and or “being in love”. Like, I can love my neighbor all I want and I feel like that brings me a lot closer to God, but its not bringing me any closer to getting a date on Saturday night. So I might keep a skeptical view on the whole dating game.

      • http://www.twitter.com/Bmorebmw Tentpole

        Good one WC

      • h.h.h.

        bigger things in life more important than… ‘love’.
        aspects of what we desire from love and companionship can be found in alternatives, if we choose to seek that out.
        we desired the independence, we desired to do what we want to do, how we want to do it…pandora’s box currently has no lid, and no one cares to look for it.

        but ‘love’…sounds like a cool thing. so i’ve heard.

      • Asiyah

        “Do you decide to quit playing musical chairs and get real with people? They’ll call you thirsty, think you are uncool.”

        This struck a chord with me. Even brought tears to my eyes. Reminds me I’m a bit of an outsider.

      • dabigpodina

        You so real it segzy.

    • http://verysmartbrothas.com The Champ

      “My generation doesn’t really talk about recklessly, beautifully, and entirely in all-consuming love anymore.”

      i think we’re just progressively getting more cynical. i wasn’t alive 40 or 50 years ago so i can’t really speak on this, but it seems like people believe in less things than they did back then. not just love, either. religion, people, etc.

      • Rewind

        I disagree. People lied 50+ years ago. They put on a real good show. They weren’t allowed to talk about their feelings, share their miseries, express their discomfort. If women hated their marriages, they had to shut up and put up with it. If men hated their marriages, they would go out and get plastered every night. Maybe even slap the wife around a few times.

        There is nothing sacred about the past because there was always a show being put on. That is what they were all trained to do in those days. Today though, you can talk freely to anyone. You don’t have to stay in relationships you don’t want to be in. You don’t even have to be in relationships if you don’t want to. Maybe that is why we are so cynical these days, because the truth was always harsh.

        • h.h.h.

          is it really “truth”?

          because if it is, from my pov, the majority of humanity are truthfully angry and sad. i don’t think you can just eliminate the past…but, i have a more conservative pov.

          • Rewind

            You’re right, humanity for the most part shows off the negative. But I’m saying, when we compare the past to the present, history likes to dictate to us how great things were before, but if you look closer, you realize people all lived in a very confined bubble, no matter where they are from.

            Today, people for the most part have a luxury that those before us never had: freedom of expression. You used to get persecuted if you wanted to say the sky was purple instead of blue. Now you can trip balls on mushrooms while you’re at work. The fear of standing out back then is way less harmful now.

        • Malik

          Not saying better. Just different. Compare the way different generations of VSB folk alone discuss love and relationships. Differs wildly depending on the age of the person talking.

    • SweetSass

      I would agree.

  • http://Magnetforfoolishness.com Magnet for Foolishness

    The last sentence of this post says it all.

    • http://GenevaGirl.net Geneva Girl

      +1

  • http://Magnetforfoolishness.com Magnet for Foolishness

    The last sentence of this post says it all.

    • http://Magnetforfoolishness.com Magnet for Foolishness

      See this is what I get for not commenting in months. Now all my posts are doubled!

      • http://stanoffewwords.wordpress.com Tristan

        Yup.

      • http://verysmartbrothas.com The Champ

        congrats!

  • The Other Jerome

    “movies where writers and directors use the screen as a palate to work out their own issues instead of allowing the audience a chance to be vicarious.”

    Well….. how do you think most scripts and “stand up” are created? Ted Witcher didn’t use his film as a palate?

    • http://verysmartbrothas.com The Champ

      good point. i admit, from a critical perspective, witcher does benefit from the fact that he doesn’t have much material out there. who knows how we’d view him now if he produced/directed 10 more movies and they all were shitty

      • The Other Jerome

        I’d also like to know where he’s been all this time. One film in 15 years? Is he so focused that he’ll only direct exactly what he wants and thats it?

        Tim Story did “Barbershop”. Then the two Fantastic Four films, then followed that up with “Think Like a Man”. Ted couldn’t have followed a similar path?

        I know i make it sound easy. But i really just want to know “why”. Frankly, i’d love to sit with and interview the man myself.

        This article just scratches the surface.

        http://www.theroot.com/views/love-jones-director-remembers-beloved-classic

  • That Ugly Kid

    Black romance movies have more pressure put on them then their White counterparts. Because Black people frequently lament how we want a Black equivalent to something like Friends With Benefits (my favorite RomCom of all time). So when film makers finally get a chance to make such a film, they spend more effort into making sure their movie is a “Black film”, rather than making sure it is a “GOOD film” that just happens to have a predominently Black cast.

    Film makers are also afraid to take chances with these types of films (Black) because they have to worry stereotypes. In something like The Notebook, you could have a loud, crass white woman, and she’s just a b*tch. However, take that same woman, make her Black, and all of a sudden, people are bashing the movie for portraying the negative “Angry Black Woman” stereotype.

    Black romance films (and predominently Black films in general) are harder to make because they require a more delicate process, which most film makers don’t have the patience for.

    • IcePrincess

      Omg look at TUK all GQ! You. Betta. Work. :-)

    • Reason

      Friends with Benefits
      ?! I will try to temper my film snobbery a lot here but if that’s the bar that black moviegoers and filmmakers alike aspire to then…

      • That Ugly Kid

        Well that’s not the only movie. I used it as an example because that movie had probably the best dialogue in any RomCom film I’ve ever seen. It also had excellent pacing, and charismatic characters.

        So yes, Black film makers should wish they could make a RomCom have a excellent as Friends With Benefits was.

        • That Ugly Kid

          half* as excellent

          • Breezy

            *checks calendar to see if today is VSB’s Preschool Commencement Service because TUK is dressed like he is about to take graduation pictures*

            • AfroPetite

              LOL

              Goodbye Breezy….

            • Rewind

              Why are you pretending you don’t have your teacher’s dress with the pretty pink bow on it

        • Asiyah

          The acting was horrible and the entire movie was predictable. Justin Timberlake as an actor is about as charismatic as Kanye is modest. Guess the age difference between us really shows.

    • http://learninglover.com AfterMath

      I’ve just got to say that while I enjoyed FWB as a good movie, to put it up there with the elites (When Harry Met Sally) is just a no-no.

      That being said, I do agree with what you say here. I think that making a Black movie is so much like walking on eggshells because the “Black” market is so small, yet so diverse. So its hard to take the time to write a script to show that diversity and at the same time realize that you’re not going to make too much more than if you mass produced it.

      • http://mosnative.wordpress.com/ Mos_Native

        I don’t think it’s necessary to do a script that accounts for the full gamut of black diversity – that is unnecessary pressure on a writer. It is possible to pick one or just a few and explore those in depth. it is easy to relate to a deeply portrayed script – the human story is universal – we (black people) have been relating to mainstream hollywood white scripts forever. I related easily to Love Jones despite Chicago being an ocean and a bit away.

        • http://learninglover.com AfterMath

          I hear that, but the point remains. And then there’s a larger question of what do “we” consider a classic? I like to ask my friends all the time what they like better between Love Jones, Love and Basketball and Brown Sugar and I get varying responses. I mean, my friends from college used to argue about which one was more classic between Belly and Baby Boy – both are crap in my eyes. We almost universally accepted Friday and then shot down Next Friday and Friday After Next.

          So is the writer in it for the money, to make something that’ll be a classic, to write about a class of people that get ignored? I think those are important questions because somebody looking to make money will realize that you make the same (if not more) by doign the cookie cutter movies than trying to talk to a certain audience and bombing out.

          • Kema

            I really dont get the big deal about Love Jones. Love and Basketball / Brown Sugar are the same in my head but so are Juice / Menace 2 Society and the other one. But Friday is definitely a classic!

    • BriA

      *Looks at TUK’s pic. Closes out of VSB. Come back to VSB. Looks at TUK’s pic again.*

      HEY BEW!!!

      • That Ugly Kid

        Hi BriA!

    • http://verysmartbrothas.com The Champ

      “So when film makers finally get a chance to make such a film, they spend more effort into making sure their movie is a “Black film”, rather than making sure it is a “GOOD film” that just happens to have a predominantly Black cast.”

      I haven’t seen Think Like a Man, but from what I’ve heard it manages to be a movie that happened to feature Black people instead of a “Black movie”

      • That Ugly Kid

        Yes, I heard that as well. In fact, that’s how Kevin Hart was promoting. Everywhere he went, he was saying how Hollywood and people wanted to think of Think Like A Man as a “Black movie”. But he saw it as a Good movie with a Black cast. And asked that everyone se it as the same. And I guess it worked because it opened at #1 in the box office I think.

      • http://learninglover.com AfterMath

        Think Like a Man was nothing but an attempt to sell books. It’d have been more interesting if one of the guys responded with Bill Bellamy’s advice from “How to be a Playa”

  • http://commentarybyvalentina.wordpress.com/ Val

    Films like Love Jones are still being made, they just aren’t being made by the major studios anymore. If you go off the beaten path you will find really good romantic films from indie filmmakers.

    Films like, Medicine for Melancholy, Pariah, A Good Day to be Black and Sexy, Night Catches Us and even ATL are examples of the films being made. They don’t have major studios behind them so the distribution is weak as well as the promotion. Which means we don’t see them at the same time over one or two weekends but over months we see them on netflix or dvd. So, those films that are being made don’t have the immediate social impact of a Love Jones.

    Also;

    ” (Well, “realistic” other than the fact that it featured a bunch of underemployed negros living in lofts…with exposed brick…in Chicago. But, who’s nitpicking?)”

    I think that about pretty much every film I see starring a bunch of White folks. They are always living waaaay beyond their means.

    • IcePrincess

      Like “Friends.” Ain’t no way they were affording those apts working in a dang coffee shop lmao

      • That Ugly Kid

        Well, that’s not entirely true.

        Ross had a doctorate in paleantology I believe, and worked at and museum and later was a professor at a university.

        Chandler was an executive in statistical analysis and data reconfiguration, and was known to be sort of wealthy.

        Joey was a struggling actor, but was also rommates with Chandler, who pretty paid for everything until Joey started landing more consistent roles.

        Rachel made decent money as a professional Buyer for Ralph Lauren. Also note that the apartment she and Monica shared was illegally subletted.

        Monica was a Head Chef, so she made decent moeny as well, also she and Rachel lived in the same subletted apartment.

        Phoebe worked as a masseuse for most of the series, eventually working at a high end massage parlor.

        • That Ugly Kid

          Paleontology*

        • Malik

          Joey worked on “Day of Our Live” for a minute so he was rolling in money for a minute.

          • That Ugly Kid

            Yea, but only in season 2. He lost his job there and wouldn’t get it back until like season 7.

        • Rewind

          Hence why Friends is one of the greatest shows ever.

        • Asiyah

          TUK is right. Plus Phoebe used to share her apartment with her grandmother at one point. It was most likely rent-controlled.

      • Latonya

        LOL They had jobs on “Friends.”

        • LMNOP

          not jobs that pay for a giant loft in manhattan.

      • mena

        Monica’s place was rent controlled. Joey and Chandler lived in a more realistic place. Ross was a “doctor” at the museum. His first place was a tad modest and then he moved to a nicer place in the 6th season. Phoebe was the only one with questionable nice living arrangements.

        Yes, I own every season on DVD.

        • http://commentarybyvalentina.wordpress.com/ Val

          Lol@mena the Friends expert

          • mena

            People always wanted to clown where they lived.

            Phoebe was the only one who was on her “Tommy” living in a nice place in NYC. Like how? :-)

            • Kema

              Well if she was a masseuse… Happy endings?

              • Rewind

                Are you that talented?

                • Kema

                  Well I’m not a masseuse but if I were I could see how my, ummm, skills would pay the rent. ;-)

                  • Rewind

                    HA!

                    You’re a treat.

                  • mena

                    Ma’am, corner. Now.

      • http://commentarybyvalentina.wordpress.com/ Val

        How about Kramer from Seinfeld. He didn’t even have a job. Classic example.

        • Sweet GA Brown

          I really believe he was receiving a few types of public assistance.

          • http://commentarybyvalentina.wordpress.com Val

            He had to be. There’s no other plausible explanation.

          • amber

            Yes that and there was an episode where he went back to work at the bakery he used to work at before the strike. I also believed because many of the lawsuits he used to sue for made him a little money.

            • http://commentarybyvalentina.wordpress.com/ Val

              Lol. He always screwed up the lawsuits. Remember when he was burned by the coffee? He sued and then put some balm on the burn and healed it. Then his attorney Jackie still tried to negotiate and Kramer screwed that up and all he got was free coffee.

              • http://learninglover.com AfterMath

                Remember when he became a model or had the coffee table book about coffee tables that was itself a coffee table. Or when he turned his room into a hotel. Kramer makes his money he just knows how to hustle.

        • http://www.styleillusions.com WIP

          I believe there was an episode where George mentioned that Kramer often fell bass ackwards into money. That’s how I assumed he paid the rent.
          Seinfeld Stan

          • Rewind

            Either that or clearly someone knows a man that crazy simply deserves a disability check.

          • Asiyah

            Seinfeld Stans Unite!

      • http://stanoffewwords.wordpress.com Tristan

        Friends had 2 apts between 6 ppl it was believable.

    • Aclectic

      Listen!!!! I wanted to move to chicago for that reason alone!…then i actually did some research and realized i would have to be selling 8-balls and Harolds chicken to just afford the HOA fees…sigh

    • Aclectic

      Also…where can I see these indie films u speak of?

      • http://commentarybyvalentina.wordpress.com/ Val

        Well, you kind of have to look for them. There’s a good film site that talks about most new “Black” indies. It’s called Shadow and Act.

        http://blogs.indiewire.com/shadowandact/

        • http://GenevaGirl.net Geneva Girl

          Excellent site! I read it every day. I’ve learned about films I would have never heard of just relying on main-stream media.

          • http://commentarybyvalentina.wordpress.com Val

            Yep.

    • Latonya

      Val you like A Good Day to be Black and Sexy? That movie was ok., had to many stories and the only story that was good was about the married man and his mistress. How was Pariah? Does netflix have it on streaming?

      • http://commentarybyvalentina.wordpress.com/ Val

        Yeah, that was the best storyline. The others were just okay.

        Pariah should be on netflix by now.

        • http://commentarybyvalentina.wordpress.com Val

          Oh and, Pariah is really good.

        • http://twitter.com/dtafakari dtafakari

          Pariah is available via Netflix DVDs right now.

        • Kema

          I loved Pariah!

    • mena

      Is Pariah about the chick going to see her dude in prison? I heard great things about the film but I need to be in the right mind set to watch something like that.

    • http://learninglover.com AfterMath

      I’m gonna say this because it brings back memories. I was on the whole tip like “these movies are being made, but they’re just underground”…kinda like we look for underground hip hop songs. Problem with that was that I don’t know how many horrible movies I found that way. And that wasn’t the worse part. The worse part was when I started buying stage plays dressed up as movies starring people like Eddie Winslow (don’t know his real name but you know who I mean).

      Maybe they’re being made, but nobody’s talking about them so do they really exist?

      • http://commentarybyvalentina.wordpress.com/ Val

        Just stay away from all Code Black films and those crazy stage play films and you’ll find some great films. They are definitely being made.

        • http://learninglover.com AfterMath

          I’m going to bookmark (add to my favorites) that site Shadow and Act. I’d never heard of it before. Now the question is how many of these movies can I get OnDemand cause I don’t buy DVDs any more and I don’t have a netflix account.

          • http://commentarybyvalentina.wordpress.com/ Val

            I don’t know anything about OnDemand. I know that most of these films can be seen on Netflix.

    • http://verysmartbrothas.com The Champ

      “Films like, Medicine for Melancholy, Pariah, A Good Day to be Black and Sexy, Night Catches Us and even ATL are examples of the films being made.”

      this is true

    • Oshun

      Hiya, Val!! :)

      • http://commentarybyvalentina.wordpress.com/ Val

        Hiya, AM!

        *waves*

        :-)

  • Royale W. Cheese

    “Before this devolves into another angst-ridden conversation about all things wrong with Tyler Perry, I do think that Perry loves his characters. But, Ike loved Tina too, didn’t he?”

    You just sparked a revelation, Champ. Tyler Perry does not understand the characters who he loves turning into main characters. Tyler Perry’s fans also misunderstand these people. Both Perry and his fans enjoy misunderstanding certain people together.

    • Latonya

      I thought Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor was going to be good cause of the pre – views but that movie sucked. Where the HIV come from? I’m still can’t get over the ending for Why did I Get Married too at the end when Malik Yoba character was killed and then the Rock shows up? Like where and when did that happen?

      • mena

        I thought so too. The previews were actually good. I wasn’t going regardless though.

        • http://stanoffewwords.wordpress.com Tristan

          the trailer caught my eyes then I seen Tyler Perry’s name and was instantly discouraged. Maybe I’ll watch it on redbox as a test of how compatible a ladyfriend is.

          • mena

            That is EXACTLY what happened to me. I got all excited only to be let down when I saw his name. I just knew it was going to be some $hit and from what I heard, it was.

            • Sweet GA Brown

              +1

          • Malik

            He’s just producing it. He’s not writing or directing it.

      • http://www.styleillusions.com WIP

        I have no problem with any ending where The Rock shows up.

        • Rewind

          Watch Pain & Gain, then say that again.

      • http://verysmartbrothas.com The Champ

        “I thought Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor was going to be good cause of the pre – views”

        you thought a movie titled “Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor” was going to be good?

        • Royale W. Cheese

          +1

        • mena

          And you thought Kill Bill was good. The title alone sucks.

    • Kema

      I discussed Temptation with my mother a devout Christian. She could see no wrong in the film. Woman cheated + got HIV = Expected outcome.

      • http://www.twitter.com/epsilonicus Eps

        That damn PTL crowd

  • mena

    I still haven’t seen this movie, or Jason’s Lyric, or anything Spike Lee ever made, or Menace II Society.

    One of my favorite films though is Brown Sugar. Saw it twice in the theaters when it came out. I loved the entire flow of the movie, the quirkiness of the main characters, the fact that Queen got hit on by the nerdy shy black dude (Mos) and she gave him a chance even though his delivery was all over the place. The dialogue was great too. The characters weren’t overdone either. There has to be another reason that these films don’t get made anymore and released to a wider audience.

    • http://commentarybyvalentina.wordpress.com/ Val

      You’ve never seen a Spike film?! How is that possible? No Malcolm X, no She’s Gotta Have it, No Mo’ Better Blues!?

      • mena

        I need a black movie day. Honestly.

        A lot of these films came out when I was a little kid especially the Spike Lee movies. I also tried watching School Days and fell asleep. There was another one I tried watching as well with a big black guy and boom box. I can’t remember the name but it was terribly boring.

        I prefer political dramas, dramas, and action movies. But, Brown Sugar is one of my favorite films.

        • kid video

          I also tried watching School Days and fell asleep

          You need to leave rite now and holla at netflix…lol…just kidding…but not really.

          • kid video

            School Daze…

          • mena

            LOL. I can’t. :-). The ones Val posted are more my speed. I will prob check those out.

        • Marshal

          Wait, how Young are you, because I’m 25 and I’ve watched damn near All of Spike Lee’s movies, including Jungle Fever, Mo’ Betta Blues, He Got Game, etc.

          • mena

            From 86-91 when he released his “classics” I was 3-8 yrs old.

            Also, I’m never going to go out of my way to watch one of his films. I tried with 2 of them and didn’t understthe hype and lasted all of 20 minutes watching them.

            I’m not saying he is a bad director by any means, I just haven’t found a movie of his that is interesting.

            • LMNOP

              And yet you own every episode of Friends… lol

              I usually enjoy movies more if I’m a little tipsy, so maybe try that.

              • mena

                B/c Friends was awesome!!! I didn’t start watching until the 5th season though when they were already in reruns. LOVED THAT SHOW!

        • http://www.twitter.com/epsilonicus Eps

          My fiancee is white and we had Black movie day. We started with Boyz in the Hood. She cried when Ricky died…

          • mena

            This just made my entire morning. Thanks :-)

          • http://www.twitter.com/epsilonicus Eps

            We then got into an in-depth discussion about gang life and started connected it to situations in Baltimore. This is what happens when both of you are non-profit folks. Nothing can ever be just a movie lol

            • LMNOP

              lol, also why non profit folks are great.

        • http://learninglover.com AfterMath

          Did you just call Do the Right Thing boring?

          • mena

            Probably.

            • http://learninglover.com AfterMath

              Thats so sad.

              And what’s probably more sad is that I can imagine what your face looks like when people start quoting these movies at a get-together. You you at least get the references?

              Like on Mo Betta Blues. I coulda summed up this post with Westley and Denzel’s conversation:

              Bleek: But the jazz, you know if we had to dep… if we had to depend upon black people to eat, we would starve to death. I mean, you’ve been out there, you’re on the bandstand, you look out into the audience, what do you see? You see Japanese, you see, you see West Germans, you see, you know, Slabobic, anything except our people – it makes no sense. It incenses me that our own people don’t realize our own heritage, our own culture, this is our music, man.

              Shadow Henderson: That’s bull****.

              Bleek: Why?

              Shadow Henderson: [slurred] It’s all bull****. Everything, everything you just said is bull****. Out of all the people in the world, you never gave anybody else, and look, I love you like a step-brother, but you never gave nobody else a chance t- to play their own music, you complain about… That’s right, the people don’t come because you grandiose mother******* don’t play **** that they like. If you played the **** that they like, then people would come, simple as that.

              I mean that’s classic. So many classic lines in these Spike Lee movies.

              • mena

                :-) Not only would I not get the references, I wouldn’t know they were referring to anything.

                There is another movie with Redd Foxx that my black friends love that I still don’t get.

                If you start quoting Coming to America, I will get most of those. Color Purple, I will quote with you. But other than those two, from that time period, is completely lost on me.

                Again, I need a black movie day.

                • http://learninglover.com AfterMath

                  Don’t tell me you haven’t seen Harlem Nights?

                  • mena

                    Don’t hate me. :-(

                    • http://learninglover.com AfterMath

                      no hate, just surprise.

                      Please tell me you’ve seen Last Dragon.

                    • kid video

                      You’ve never seen Harlem Nights????
                      You must have white parents.

                    • mena

                      @Aftermath: I loved that movie as a kid. But i was into karate films so we would rent anything in the kung fu section. Loved me some Bruce Lee as well.

                    • mena

                      @Kid: No white parents. My mom just allowed for us to rent what we liked. Growing up, I was into horror, kung fu, more family friendly films. I just was never into black films and my mom didn’t push it on me. The first black movie I actually remember watching was Rosewood followed by Higher Learning.

                    • http://learninglover.com AfterMath

                      Ok, you just got a head nod by mentioning Rosewood and Higher Learning.

        • Rewind

          Mena…if you don’t come over here and watch some Spike Lee movies with me, I may pay someone to waterboard you.

          • mena

            :-) I will watch one of his films with you if you watch A Bronx Tale with me.

            • Rewind

              Well I actually like A Bronx Tale, so you got a deal.

    • http://www.twitter.com/Bmorebmw Tentpole

      Brown Sugar, the Wood, the Brothers and a few more were all out of the Best man vein. Movies that had a weeding as a theme. THey seem to have run their course and we stop going to see them.

      • mena

        I really liked The Wood, Best Man, and Brown Sugar b/c of the friendships. The dialogue just flowed in those films.

      • Rewind

        They also are hard as hell to relate to. Its like, when you first watch the movie, you say “awesome, I hope my life gets interesting like that when I get older”.

        But then you realize you don’t f*cking know people like that, who do sh*t like that and that’s why you let it go.

        • mena

          See, I can and that is probably why i enjoyed those films.

          • Rewind

            Well introduce me. I need to broaden my horizons.

        • Kema

          “But then you realize you don’t f*cking know people like that, who do sh*t like that and that’s why you let it go”

          *Wonders if this is why I liked Player’s Club*

          • Rewind

            DEAD.

            Weirdly enough, I’ve thought the same thing, with all the times I’ve spent in strip clubs

      • Oshun

        BROWN SUGAR! mmmh, mmmh, mmmh! That was a dope movie. Anything Sanaa Lathan, I’m a fan…or try to be.

    • h.h.h.

      dont feel bad, i too never saw most of the ‘black movies’, especially love jones (i’ve seen clips here and there, so i know the general plot).

      harlem nights, juice, best man, scarface, coming to america, i have seen. waiting to exhale, i was dragged to (angry women on screen…awesome) (although the soundtrack is one of the best r&b albums i’ve heard, imo)

      • mena

        That soundtrack was full of life.

    • http://verysmartbrothas.com The Champ

      yeah, Brown Sugar is a good example of the type of feel I’m talking about

  • Reason

    First, it should be noted that the blog Shadow and Act is the best resource to searching for the next Love Jones.

    Anyway, I hate (American) romantic films in general (including mainstream (read: white) ones) especially comedies. Most mainstream American romantic films are formulaic, hackneyed and often times just plain awful. Jennifer Aniston, Katherine Heigel and Kate Hudson should be banned from starring in any romantic films.

    I’m already cynical about love being depicted by art anyway: what can be said that hasn’t already been said? And so, that’s why romantic films have a high bar to clear with me. The story has to be off the charts; the leads have to have mad chemistry; the director has to have vision out of this world, or else I’m bored at “Hello.”

    • http://stanoffewwords.wordpress.com Tristan

      romantic comedy is hard to pull off because love ain’t cute and no matter how hard they try it always comes off as a little cheesy. Cliche embarrassing meetings, the all knowing bff who tells the character to do whatever makes the plot more interesting, the grand gesture that is always unnecessary….barf.

    • http://www.styleillusions.com WIP

      Agreed. Black folks don’t have the bad movie game on lock.

      • LMNOP

        Some of those romantic comedies with Jennifer Aniston et al in them make Tyler Perry look like a genius.

        • http://commentarybyvalentina.wordpress.com/ Val

          Genius is a bit strong but, I get what you mean.

        • http://learninglover.com AfterMath

          Why people singling out Jennifer? I’d rather watch one of her decent romantic comedies than a Hugh Grant one.

          • http://www.styleillusions.com WIP

            because she was the “it” girl for a minute and she has a decent collection of rom-coms under her belt.

            • http://learninglover.com AfterMath

              Was she? I guess that was before I got into romantic comedies. I’ve seen a few (bad) movies with her and Paul Rudd, but they pale in comparison to how often I see Hugh Grant in these supposedly good movies – and he’s always playing that same shy character.

              • http://www.styleillusions.com WIP

                she was, she had the famous haircut and she was with Brad Pitt

              • LMNOP

                Yeah, Hugh Grant is the worst.

  • http://GenevaGirl.net Geneva Girl

    “Well, “realistic” other than the fact that it featured a bunch of underemployed negros living in lofts…with exposed brick”

    A pet peeve of mine with black rom coms is the unrealistic lifestyles the characters live. In Jump the Broom, the upcoming We the Peeples, Are We There Yet, etc. the characters are uber-rich. Can’t black folks just be middle class? I realize that these films want to project a fantasy, but good humor can be found everywhere even in a split-level in New Jersey.

    • Reason

      This type of criticism of black art especially when it’s used by black people only gives license to white people who think they know what the average life of a black person is. The African-American entertainment historian, Donald Bogle, analyzed the criticism that Eddie Murphy’s Boomerang got when it was released: he cites a lot of white critics who were incredulous at the idea of a “black” fortune corporation existing. And Eddie was rightfully p/o’d responding with a list of African-American headed companies like the Ebony/Jet empire. That is the essence of white privilege. White people are allowed to live in a fantasy bubble of their own making ignoring the outside world but black people or people of color must be shackled to “reality.” That was also the criticism of the Cosby Show: a black lawyer married to a black doctor with 5 well-adjusted kids, and HIV/AIDS, crime, drugs isn’t a part of their world? But somehow curiously Good Times is reality: a family not escaping a day without misfortune but still managing to remain somewhat sane. At least A Different World split the difference remaining socially conscious and having its fantasy too.

      • http://GenevaGirl.net Geneva Girl

        I’m sorry that I wasn’t clear. Why can’t an insurance adjuster and a school teacher disapprove of the guy who is romancing their daughter? Why do black romcoms always have to be over the top?

        BTW, I found the Huxtables to be realistic. A doctor and a lawyer would have such a lifestyle. Jump the Broom, on the other hand, was a stretch. Yes, we of course have black CEOs, e.g., Ken Chenault, who live fantastic lives, but why do most of these films only portray them?

        It seems that only the downtrodden, e.g., Good Times, or the opulent, e.g., Jump the Broom, are portrayed. I want to see everyday people in funny situations.

        • LMNOP

          The people who produce movies might have a different take on an average lifestyle than most people.

    • http://stanoffewwords.wordpress.com Tristan

      my theory is they want the movie to seem less “ghetto”

    • Sigma_Since 93

      “A pet peeve of mine with black rom coms is the unrealistic lifestyles the characters live”

      They said the same thing about the Cosby show. Why can’t be believe that we have pocket of folks that live that life when evidence of Black wealth at that level are around us? #nohousewives

      • http://www.twitter.com/Bmorebmw Tentpole

        We do. It is just that VSB only accounts for 5 – 10% of the Black population and RHOA and the others account for 70% and their money is green too.

    • amber

      Yes. When I saw the trailer for the Peeples movie I just knew it was a Tyler Perry movie. It seems he has some sort of issue because it’s always this war between the not good enough black man and the upper class vineyard type woman and her family.

      • http://twitter.com/dtafakari dtafakari

        Exactly! It’s not the rom-com genre I tire of–I love rom-com for their predictable cheesiness–it’s actually the depiction of the class divide. It’s so old, and yet black filmmakers/ black folk LOVE that trope. I could list a handful of movies with that theme. It’s “Guess Who’s Coming for Dinner?” boughetto edition.

      • Mo to tha

        This has been driving me insane. Meet the Peeples is NOT Tyler Perry’s movie. His name is attached for distribution purposes only (which may hurt the film IMO). Just like Precious was not him & Oprah’s movie….they were just fueling its distribution.

        http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1699755/

        Woo-sah (Steps off soapbox)

        • http://twitter.com/dtafakari dtafakari

          But his stamp, tho…It has adverse effects on my wanting to see a movie. It turns me off lickety-split.

        • Kema

          This makes me very happy!!! I wanted to see it but I also wanted to see Temptation before I did.

    • That Ugly Kid

      I was already not interested in the upcoming movie Peeples because it just seems like the Black version of Meet The Parents. And usually I’m skeptical of the “Black version” of comedies because they usually recycle the overused trope of “this is what white people do in these situations, and this is what Black people do in the same situation, ISN’T THAT FUNNY?!?!”.

      The Tyler Perry co-sign just made it worse.