Thoughts on (nonexistent) Black Epic Romance and The Movie “Love Jones”

Hello, Lovelies and Gentleman, it’s me, Yamina, talking here.

So. A friend and I were having lunch today in New York city, catching up on old times and chit-chatting (I love NY in the summer;we ate at Panera and sipped on cool, refreshing iced green tea, but that’s for another topic), and at once point during our talk we began discussing black romance in film and television. Not black romantic comedies but serious black romantic films.

Drinking and chatting.

Drinking and chatting.

Our discussion ran the gauntlet from, “well, there aren’t that many such films” to “how come even the romances we do have just aren’t, well…epic?” to “where are the healthy black male and female relationships on t.v. and film?” and finally, “say, what was up with that ending in Love Jones?”

You know that ending, right? Where Darius Love Jones does NOT go running after Nina in the end (though he did run after her earlier at the train station, after he told her to get out of his house and later regretted it). No, Darius has her come to him in the rain (yep, he remains dry and off to the sidelines) after he calls out to her when she is about to get in the cab.

So my friend and I asked each other, in what Hollywood dramatic romance does the woman come running to the guy? This might seem like nit-picking, but we didn’t think so (and no, I’m not talking about random exceptions. I am SURE you will find the exceptions. I am talking about in general).

I will be your hero.

I will be your hero.

Then I started thinking about white Hollywood films where the male hero does things like (a) dies for the woman (Titanic, Romeo and Juliet), (b) chases after the woman in the rain (Pride and Prejudice, 2005, Breakfast at Tiffany’s), (c) sings a song in front of everyone for a woman (Ten Things I Hate About You) (d) goes to war, partly, over a woman (Braveheart), (e) scales a fire escape with roses for a woman (Pretty Woman) and (f) Builds a house for a woman (the Notebook).

I will be your hero, too! 'Cause that's why I always do in romantic dramas.

I will be your hero, too! ‘Cause that’s why I always do in romantic dramas.

Yes, many of the male characters in the above mentioned films have flaws (picking up a prostitute in Pretty Woman, anyone?) but, in movie world, they are redeemed by their heroic love for their counterpart. Yes, I know, Noah cursed at the end of the Notebook while trying to get together with Allie, but he also wrote her a letter everyday for a year, hung from a Ferris Wheel to get her attention, and finally died with her in the end. Those were redeeming qualities for the voyeur.

Yeah. While we're discussing this, I guess I'll also go ahead and be the hero..

Yeah. While we’re discussing this, I guess I’ll go ahead and be the hero, as well.

Now, are all of those films ridiculous in what they expect romantic men to do?

YES. And NO.

They are ridiculous because these films are pure fantasy that many men will never be able to live up to.

On the other hand, women eat them up like candy. Why? because women love heroes!

Yet what do we black women get in Love Jones? “Hey, Nina!” (come here, basically, at the end).

This would not be a big deal if we had a great balance of films where black love is seen as healthy and functional,and where the black male characters are seen as knights in shinning armor who do come after the woman often enough. But there is no such balance.

Sure, I'll be the heroic hero. I've been doing it since the start of movies!

Sure, I’ll be the heroic hero. I’ve been doing it since the start of movies!

Which got us to wondering why Darius, in declaring his love for Nina at the end, had to drop a curse word as he expressed his feelings. My friend and I were like, “does the male hero in white films ever do that? Did Darcy do that? Does Thor do that? Do any of the Great Romances have such an ending?

Doesn’t that kind of, well, ruin the moment?

And where was the romantic pursuit? I mean a real pursuit? Not like, “hey we are going to sleep together on our first official date” (which Nina and Darius did), and see how it goes from there. Indeed, I start to wonder how these ideas bodes on the mentality of the African-American community in general, where there is 70 percent out-of-wedlock rate, and too many of our young people (black and white) confuse sex with love.

(Sex, I believe, is the icing on the cake of a committed relationship. Actually, as a Christian woman, I personally believe sex should be enjoyed inside a committed married relationship. And while many people do not share my views, secretly I bet there are lots of women who actually do love this very old-fashioned idea – Twilight anyone?Jane Austen, people?).

So why in Love Jones did black women get, “let’s grind after our first date!” (I had to fast forward the loves scenes when I watched it on Youtube). Watch practically any epic Hollywood love story and you will never see sex on a first date – it ruins the chase, people!

But, listen. I know lots of black folks were crazy about Love Jones. And to be truthful, I also enjoyed many aspects of it. I mean, I’m NOT here to put the efforts of the filmmaker down in anyway. Indeed, the actors and actresses were all very talented, and they did an outstanding job in their respective crafts.

My friend and I just lamented that we wished there were more romantic epics with blacks in the lead; ones where men were more chivalrous and the women get to be truly sought after. Is that too much to ask? My friend and I didn’t think so.

One thing is for sure, though – African-Americans cannot wait for other people to write our stories. We have to write them ourselves. And see ourselves as worthy of great, epic love.

Just a thought.

Best,

A. Yamina Collins

 

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Some notes about the HOST OF YAMINATODAY.COM – A. Yamina Collins

A. Yamina Collins is the author of the fantasy/romance novel The Last King, A modern-day love story about a young woman innocently caught in a war between two age-old nemesis: God, and immortal beings whose ancestors ate from the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden.

The Last King has already been in Amazon’s Top 100 Bestseller’s list in Fantasy, Sciencefiction, Women’s Fiction Literature and Christian Women’s Literature.

thelastking3 (1)THE LAST KING BOOK SYNOPSIS:
Twenty-eight year Emmy Hughes has never quite fit in—she’s six feet tall, dark-skinned, and daydreams of being Galadriel from Lord of the Rings. But when she is badly injured in a car accident that kills her mother, Emmy does not dream of fantastical worlds anymore—she just wants her shattered life to be normal again.

Unfortunately, normalcy is the last thing in store for her once she meets Lake George’s newest arrival, Dr. Gilead Knightly. Granted immortality from a line of people whose Great Ancestor marched into the Garden of Eden and ate from the Tree of Life, Gilead has been alive for centuries and has met everyone from Nubian kings to Napoleon.

But Gilead and his eccentric family are also hunted beings because God considers the Edenites’ possession of immortality to be theft. And for thousands of years He has dealt with their transgression by sending each of them a “Glitch” —an unsuspecting human meant to retrieve this stolen “property” of immortality and kill them off.

When Emmy discovers that she is Gilead’s Glitch, she is not only thrown into a world of immortals who eat bone marrow, panthers who read minds, and a family whose blood is made of pulsing gold, but she finds herself the target of Gilead’s vengeance: he must get rid of her before she gets rid of him.

Easier said than done. Because Glitches are not only an Edenite’s greatest threat—they’re also their greatest love.

 

 

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4 comments

Greg Denmark says: August 30, 2014 at 8:08 pm

Although Love Jones is one of my absolute favorite movies, I agree with most of your points. I agree because movies are not just a random groupings of scenes. They are made for intentional reasons, consciously or unconsciously.

Black movies like you are asking for and deserve won’t be made or common until we see ourselves as the universal standard or practice collective self love on a international scale. Not every single Black person is needed. Just the ones who have the vision and resources to make it so, instead of trying to be the best honorary White person we can be.

I speak of Blacks on all levels, form the highly educated to the urbanites and all in between. We must become more self determined and self loving before we can see ourselves as the saviour of humanity and the epic hero.

Peace and Blessings

    A. Yamina Collins says: August 31, 2014 at 2:40 am

    HI, Greg,

    That’s a good point about us seeing ourselves as the universal standard. And we don’t see ourselves that way,do we?

    Sigh.

    Best,

    Yamina

Greg Denmark says: August 31, 2014 at 5:28 pm

Unfortunately we do not see ourselves in that way. We act consciously and unconsciously in a way that marginalizes our importance to the world and each other.

When I ponder over the movies you mention, I see White folks and Asians acting like they are THE only main characters in the world and everyone else is just along for the ride.

Not a criticism as such, just an observation.

We have a tremendous amount of hangups that prevent us from seeing ourselves in that light.

We have to operate from a different paradigm than the one we are currently in.

Most of the movies we watch, be it White or Asian, are variations on their history and culture; and it spans the diversity of entertainment genres. From movies to TV shows to books to video games(be it drama, sci-fi, romance, action etc.)

For example, the history of Japan during the Tokugawa reign has been the motivation for countless anime, live action, live fantasy and other movies, games and such.

How many variations of Shakespearean works, The feudal years of Europe, European kingship like King Arthur, knighthood and chivalry, the Victorian era,the countless literary works of famous White authors and others currently exist?

Whites and Asians use their history and culture to drive home ideals of self actualization, self determination, universalism, the divine, law and order, long term stability, socialization and many other vital concepts.

We, for the most part, shun our history and act like it is not important while celebrating the history and culture of others as if it is the only thing of relevance.

Thankfully, there is growing number of US taking on the reigns of self determination in various forms and making waves in the prodigious task of positive socialization of Black/African people.

And, despite my diatribe, I sincerely love my people and hope springs eternal when it comes to me knowing that we can transcend this current situation.

There is much more to us than what we know, so much more than what we have been told.

Peace and Blessings

    A. Yamina Collins says: September 02, 2014 at 4:28 am

    Points well taken, Greg. Thank you.

    Yamina