All Articles Tagged "jason’s lyric"
Why We Need More “Medicine for Melancholy” And “Miss Dial”: Where Is The Average Black Love On Film?
As winter makes its final stand, I decided to take this chilly and snowy opportunity to catch up on some romantic comedy movie watching and surprisingly caught a good one called Miss Dial.
The synopsis goes:
“A consumer affair rep who works from her apartment decides to play hooky one day, and spends her time calling random people, looking for new connections.”
I say “surprisingly” for a couple of reasons: 1. I’ve never heard of it so I assumed that it was one of those straight-to-DVD black films that used to come on late night on BET; 2. And while the main character, played by Robinne Lee, was black and the cover for the film featured Gabrielle Union, Dulé Hill and Hill Harper prominently, the film was definitely not a black love type of film. I mean, there was love in it, but most definitely the post-racial kind, which appears to be a common “thing” nowadays since the popularity of Something New. The black guy is the bad guy while the white guy gets to play the dashing hero on a horse. I looked it up on good ole’ IMDb and discovered that the film technically, while featuring a black lead and other black stars, was written and directed by a white guy, particularly a white guy who had a hand in writing American Pie Presents: Book of Love and National Lampoon’s Barely Legal. Surprise!
Yet despite not technically being a cinematic manifestation of FUBU, there is no denying the charm of this film. If you have ever had a job that paid the bills but almost certainly drained the life out of you, you will most certainly relate to the main character, Erica, who spends her day basically goofing off when she should be working. Then there is the whole fantasy element, which is the allure of all romantic comedies, regardless of color inclusion. But what makes this different is that the plot is simple, understated and very casual. In fact, the entire film takes place in Erica’s apartment with her basically sitting around, on the phone, in loungewear chatting up a handsome stranger.
This kind of subtle storytelling, particularly around the theme of black love, is missing in black films of today. In the ’90s we were troubled men and women or drug dealers and gang bangers, who occasionally fell in love, such as the case in Jason’s Lyric and Poetic Justice. And then came the rise of the bougie black couple, which gave birth to the high-power and profile blacks, specifically the buppies (black yuppies) in Waiting to Exhale, or the Afropolitan-bobos (bohemian bourgeois) of Love Jones. Throughout our contemporary cinematic history, these extremes have left a void for many of us, who fell on the outskirts of either of these images. You know, us folks with regular jobs and regular apartments/housing, who are too poor for daily Happy Hours at the trendy tapas bars, but ain’t hood enough to be ride or die boo in the back of the mail truck?
The first time I’d seen such everyday-black-man-and-woman portrayal on screen was in Barry Jenkins’ independent classic, Medicine for Melancholy. As described by IMDB, this story revolves around the “24 hours in the tentative relationship of two young San Franciscans also dealing with the conundrum of being a minority in a rapidly gentrifying city.” More than the question of, are they going to fall in love or not?, and whatever social commentary the film hoped to illicit, what I always found most interesting about this story was the inclusion of black folks, contemplating love while riding bicycles. And that was the entire appeal for me. Through the media, we have been led to believe that black folks just aren’t into the whole bike culture thing. And yet, there they were, pedaling through the streets of San Fran, looking comfortable and natural.
A few years later I purchased on a whim the movie called I’m Through with White Girls (The Inevitable Undoing of Jay Brooks), which was directed by Jennifer Sharp and written by Courtney Lilly. As the title suggests, the film revolves around a black guy named Jay Brooks (Anthony Montgomery), who, according to IMDB, “digs indie rock, graphic novels, and dates white chicks.” After not being able to commit to his white girlfriend, thus breaking up with her, Jay decides that the problem is white women and begins a quest to find an authentic black girlfriend, which he sort of finds in Catherine Williamson (Lia Johnson), a half-black, half-Puerto Rican Canadian. While whimsical and a slightly offensive premise for sure, the film’s main charm comes in the form of presenting us with characters, who enjoy activities and interests (i.e. comic books and indie bands) outside of basketball, hip-hop, family fish frys and other things we associate with exclusively black activities in movies. In fact, both of these films act as a subtle coup in how we tend to define the black experience – at least on film.
This kind of portrayal is important to me and I imagine other black folks, who either exist outside of the realm of what is thought as traditional blackness, or at the very least ride the fence. Personally, I ride bikes, although more for leisure endeavors as opposed to my main form of transportation (got to justify those car payments somehow). I live in the ‘hood, which means that I know how to roll a tight blunt, will unapologetically drop it like it’s hot to some ratchet s**t and be loud and boisterous for no damn reason at all. However, I also have a college degree; will frequently venture to the more affluent parts of town for Chai tea, samosas and obscure subtitled foreign films, and will kick it with the Afropolitan friends for some spoken word and drum circles. For some, that may make me abnormal, however, I see myself as a well-rounded person. And I suspect that there are many others in the community, who too encapsulate the versatile of the black aesthetic. It is certainly true of the men I tend to date and attract.
There are times when my experience as a black person in America can seem pretty ubiquitous. However, there are times when my version of blackness isn’t always pronounced. Despite what we see on television, some days we do get to take a day off from police brutality, racial discrimination and all the other things that seem to plague the community. Sometimes my life is pretty damn boring and innocuous. So while love stories like Medicine for Melancholy, I’m Done with White Girls and even Miss Dial exist, because clearly they do, they still remain largely hard to find and available mostly through only word of mouth. Whereas, I can go to the local cinema and watch Think like a Man playing on multiple screens. Not saying that Think Like a Man or Love Jones or even a Poetic Justice are too not representative of black love, I see them in me. But I also want to see the others parts of me represented too. And why can’t the diversity of our experience be seen on the screen just as they are off?
When it’s time to spend some time at home with friends and fam, these are the movies you play over and over again until you know half the words. We have 15 of our favorite hood classics here. If we missed your favorite, let us know in the comments section.
At the core, Jason’s Lyric is a love story, at least three to four times over. There’s the dysfunctional type of love between Joshua and Jason’s parents, that starts all of the drama in the first place. There’s the familial love that keep Jason in Houston for so long, defending, rationalizing and protecting his brother and then there’s the love story between Lyric and Jason, who have to figure out a way to escape their toxic surroundings if they want their relationship to work. You know the movie, you remember that one scene…you know what I’m talking about. You might even have memorized some of the lines but you probably don’t know the behind the scenes secrets. Check them out below.
Subsequent to the release of the box office hit Think Like A Man that came out last month, we decided to go down memory lane and reminisce about some of the best black films of the ’90s. Last time we gave you few movies that we loved in part one and noticed many of you were quite anxious for part two, and even had films that you wanted to recommend. Well, here it is: Part 2, and you will not be disappointed. And if you are…*Kanye shrug* We tried…
Love Jones (1997)
Many people seem to love Love Jones. Why? Because most would agree that unlike most romantic films, it’s one of those movies that just keeps it real about the struggle in searching for love. It’s a black urban romantic comedy set in Chicago, involving a a male poet named Darius (Larenz Tate), who persistently pursues a female photographer, the lovely Nina. But feelings are soon assessed by her after a series of romantic obstacles are set in motion that force her to try and find out if her old beau is the real deal or if she needs to be with Darius. The movie includes a great soundtrack and several scenes intertwined with soulful jazz music and spoken word.
February may be over but love is still in the air, as spring gets ready to set in. Let’s take a look at my favorite love/relationship scenes in black films. Though they may not be typical, these moments illustrate our vulnerabilities in relationships, our joys, great love-making and compromise. It’s important to highlight loving relationships in our communities because we’re often inundated with negative depictions of black love, re: baby mama drama. Don’t get all dreamy on me, but for one second allow these films’ special moments to inspire positive energy in your life while on your quest for love.