African American

The Female Gaze: Dido and Noni, Two of a Kind

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Directors Amma Asante and Gina Prince-Bythewood illustrate that when a story is told through the eyes of the second sex, themes, such as romance, self-worth, and identity are fully fleshed out. By examining an 18th century British aristocrat and a 21st century pop superstar, it proves that in the span of three centuries, women still face adversity in establishing a firm identity, apart from the façade, amongst the white noise of societal expectations.

She’s Pretty for a Black Girl: ‘Dark Girls’ and Colorism in America

A drawing that reflects such tragic self-doubt at a surprisingly young age.

I can remember an episode of ‘Chappelle’s Show’ (a sketch series that offered some valuable commentary on race and race relations in America) where Paul Mooney says, “Everybody wanna be a nigga, but nobody wanna be a nigga.” How does this seemingly crude sentiment translate to reality? to a social framework? To color? What he means is this: being Black is still considered “cool” and trendy by some, and it can be a mark of power and subversion. On the other hand, those who find race to be an accessory are more than happy to avoid the consequences and negative stereotypes associated with blackness, such as prejudice and discrimination. ‘Dark Girls’ investigates what causes colorism, how it’s begun to poison Black women, and how Black communities can heal from it.

‘Love Jones’: The Soundtrack of the Neo-Soul Generation

Love Jones movie poster

‘Love Jones’ does more than captures a moment in time in the late 90s. It creates the point when neo-soul established itself as the music of all of us with artistic inclinations, those of us leaving fantasies of teenage love affairs behind for a more realistic image of making a relationship work. And, yes, for some of us it brought about a sexual awakening that helped us accept that sex could exist outside a relationship if it’s truly wanted that way.

‘Deuce Bigalow’: Pleasure, Male Likability, and Finding Love Through “Man-Whoring”

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Navigating male prostitution has always been tricky, but ‘Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo’ (Mike Mitchell, 1999) unburdens audiences from tackling any heavily philosophical explications through its potty humor, shallow characters, and offensive depictions of ailments such as Tourette Syndrome, Gigantism, Narcolepsy, and obesity. This same brand of mindless humor is found in ‘Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo’ (Mike Mitchell, 2005). However, despite what the movie lacks (and it’s certainly aware of itself as a raunchy, unconventional rom-com), its central themes are love and kindness, and what is perhaps less apparent is the seemingly rare ability to pause and see someone for who they truly are, as opposed to how they may be of service in terms of sex or money. This goofy film featuring Rob Schneider begs a feminist critique not only because the film lacks many multi-dimensional characters, but because it is a prostitution narrative encoded as a story depicting the pursuit of romantic love, rather than a cautionary tale about the dangers of the world’s oldest profession.

Notes from the Telluride Film Festival: A New Look at American Slavery in ’12 Years a Slave’

TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE

Patsey can be the only the source of her violent hatred; and while Mistress Epps turns her spite on her husband occasionally, she is quickly reminded by her husband of her place in a patriarchal American Southern society–if he tires of her, she is gone. McQueen handles these situations with a frankness and humanity that is not overdone and he brings the best perfomances out of all his actors. The film got a standing ovation at Telluride, several times over, which is rare to happen at the festival.

Facing the Horror of ’12 Years a Slave’

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Spirituals and folk songs were essential in African American history–they allowed slaves to communicate and to collaborate. They were a subtle way to resist slavery and develop community (which was exactly what chattel slavery sought to demolish). White people–as the aforementioned overseer demonstrates–often co-opt these important black cultural pastimes, which is something to keep in mind as we seek to hear and see–but not take–African American stories.

Black Masculinity in ‘Lee Daniels’ The Butler’

Lee Daniels’ The Butler Written by Erin Tatum. My experience going to see Lee Daniels’ The Butler made an impression on me even before the film started playing. I don’t think I have ever been to a movie where every single preview featured a protagonist of color. It reminded me just how whitewashed Hollywood is. […]

‘Fruitvale Station’ Humanizes the Pigeonholed African American Father/Child Relationship

Fruitvale Station film poster. Written by Janyce Denise Glasper “I got a daughter…” groans Oscar Grant. “He just shot me…” Lying face down, a coward’s bullet inside his back, young Oscar’s black-brown eyes water, blood spews between his purple lips, redness staining bright white teeth that had smiled with an infinite amount of mesmerizing happiness […]

‘Fruitvale Station’: White Audiences Need to Look, Not Look Away

Fruitvale Station movie poster. Written by Leigh Kolb Fruitvale Station, unlike most feature films, is not told from and for the perspective of the white gaze. For white audiences, this is startling, uncomfortable and heartbreaking. It should be. The film is a harrowing re-telling of the true story of Oscar Grant, who was killed by a […]

Wedding Week: "Jumping The Broom" Addresses Racial Hangups While Marrying Ancestral Tradition

Jumping the Broom poster. Written by Janyce Denise Glasper Uh oh! Sabrina Watson has done it again! “I promise you, God, if you get me out of this situation, I’ll only share my cookies with the man I marry,” she exclaims subconsciously. Jumping the Broom is Arlene Gibbs first screenwriting credit. Jumping The Broom, co-written […]

Wedding Week: ‘Coming to America’ and Coming to Terms with New Marriage Traditions

Coming to America movie poster. Written by Leigh Kolb When I was a kid, Coming to America was one of my favorite movies. I’m not quite sure exactly what it was–maybe I just thought Eddie Murphy was really cute–but I’d like to think that I was drawn to its message of valuing female intelligence and independence over […]

Travel Films Week: ‘How Stella Got Her Groove Back’

How Stella Got Her Groove Back film poster. Written by Janyce Denise Glasper How Stella Got Her Groove Back is based on Terry McMillan’s bestselling novel of the same name and stars two wonderful actresses as best friends–Academy Award nominated Angela Bassett playing strong, determined Stella and Academy Award winning Whoopi Goldberg as hilarious, sassy […]