What horrors are directly related to Black women? What elements, themes, aesthetic appeal would make a horror film a solid example of Black female centrality and agency? And even still, strike fear in a universal audience… Our ghosts: how are they different?
However, I do thoroughly enjoy and sometimes defend 80s horror and the Black (female) characters I can find, but it’s crucial to examine the narrow confines of their characterization. …The 80s opened up a dialogue about where Black women’s place was not only in society, but in horror.
‘Into the Badlands’, based on the classic Chinese tale ‘Journey to the West’, is set in a futuristic dystopian world where past wars have created a new feudal society. It’s gratifying to finally get an onscreen Blasian couple where they kiss, have sex, and get to have a real relationship.
‘Being Mary Jane’ provides the dialogue and the safety net in saying out loud ,”I see you, I’ve been there too and you are not alone.” The embracing of positive sexuality of Black women on television is not progressive feminism. It is the hope that future depictions of such will not be labeled progressive, but just as common as the stereotypes that have lingered for too long.
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.
And I don’t buy the excuse that Gray gives by calling these women story criticisms “side stories.” He showed Snoop Dogg in the film twice, and even had Tupac Shakur ( A.k.a. 2Pac) in a scene. Wouldn’t they be considered side stories too? Also, the movie is already long, so adding three minutes just to give us a glimpse of Yo-Yo with Cube, or a kick ass scene with The Lady of Rage in the sound booth rapping “Afro Puffs” with Snoop couldn’t hurt the narrative flow or length. It would take so little to show the world that women were there and are a part of N.W.A.’s legacy.
The realm of sci-fi and fantasy offers many possibilities to challenge the status quo. It’s the ultimate platform to show diversity and portray a more nuanced characterization of people. Let’s hope that ‘Sleepy Hollow’ can pull of what it has planned and there will be no need to dust off the #AbbieMillsDeservesBetter hashtag.
The film also focuses on the relationship between Smith and Ma Rainey, who mentored Smith and gave her guidance on developing her stagecraft. Mo’Nique portrays Ma Rainey, known as the “Mother of the Blues,” in a rich and layered performance and has so much charisma she steals every scene she’s in.
If these women aren’t seeing any positive images of themselves on screen, how are they able to construct an identity of truth? Even though they can rely on their community for positivity, if it’s not reinforced through media representation then it renders that support useless.
Umbridge works as Undersecretary to Minister of Magic Cornelius Fudge. Through her position in the patriarchal wizarding government, Umbridge enables job discrimination, segregation, incarceration and harsh sentencing, and physical violence and genocide against marginalized people. She not only politically supports these efforts, but personally enacts violence against marginalized people and their allies, including children.
When I searched my mental rolodex for Black female characters in film or television who are unlikable my mind continued to circle. I was lost.
But they did not do it for fame or hardware, they saw a new industry that they could use to instill pride and confidence in their community and propel the race forward. So for this Black History Month, we can proudly say #EarlyCinemaSoBlack.