I didn’t think I would talk about this movie but here it goes.
Spoilers down below.
First, and I can’t say this clearly enough, I don’t care if you’re a black man and mad that movie didn’t show you in a positive light. I don’t care. This wasn’t your movie. Hell, this wasn’t even Tyler Perry’s movie. Is it a movie that men should watch? Sure. But do something simple and check the title. IF black women complained this hard about Invisible Man and Native Son, then we’d NEVER live down the backlash. The original play didn’t even have a man in it. Moving on.
Next, my main issues with the movie involved both the story lines and reception of said story lines. I sat there ready to be uncomfortable. I was anticipating it. I’m pretty sure I didn’t release the breath I held until Loretta Devine started in with “No Assistance.” I was transfixed with her performance of the poems I felt most deeply resonated with me. Moments like these were the only thing that kept me sane throughout the movie. However, peace wasn’t going to last always and I knew it.
First up, Tangie the Oversexed. I have a love/hate relationship with how her story was brought forth. I loved that she was a woman who seemed in charge her sexuality. She seemed to know what she wanted from sex and went out and got it. She wasn’t the stereotypical woman we often see who uses sex in order to get then keep a man. She wasn’t auditioning for a husband. I thought to myself: “Finally, a character who just loves sex without it having to be destructive force.” The one scene in which she was mistaken for a prostitute was a really good chance to open up discussion. The man thought that because she picked him up in a bar and took him back for sex, she must be “hooker.” She threw it back in his face by pointing out the tried and true double standard. This could have been a great part but nope. Instead, it was played up for laughs. The theater couldn’t stop laughing, the man couldn’t stop laughing and in the end, Tangie was the butt of the joke. Later it turns out she was molested by her grandfather. This message to me is problematic because not every woman who enjoys multiple sex partners is villain or victim of sexual abuse. Some women, some people, just plain like sex. My heart broke her in that scene and inside, I cried a little.
Second story line. You already know. Down-Low. This part could have been something great but again, it was played up for laughs. I’ve stated that I hate the term “down low” but to save space, I’ll use it here. Okay? Jo’s husband had one very good part that got drowned out in the movie. He stated the difference between “gay” and what he was- a man that liked sex with other men. This line was a good representation of the thought process that happens in “down-low” (shudder) situations. It’s a separation of “me” and “them” and the fight to never, ever be “them.” Every time he showed up on the screen, the reaction was “EWW!” Again, my heart broke inside because I knew what needed to be said wasn’t going to be said. The fact is, “down-low” doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It’s easy to portray her husband as the unsympathetic bad guy, and then to widen the label to all sexual deviants. HIV is such a big fight that we need someone to blame it on because the fight against “me” and “them” helps us sleep at night. Phylicia Rashad’s character did a part about taking responsibility toward the end of the movie that spoke to all the characters in my opinion. I know the movie couldn’t work wonders but it did an injustice by simply glossing over the fact that Jo knew her husband was gay and most likely cheating on her for a while but continued to be with him. It never addressed why he felt the need to hide and lie and never come out. It didn’t really bring up the message that’s overall message that’s out there for gay black men. Or gay men period. There was so much that could have happened here and could have been used to open up discussion but instead we get stuck with another “me” and “them” fight. Our belief about the bad guy is confirmed.
I was also pissed at Janet Jackson’s performance of my favorite poem: “Sorry.”
All of that being said, I enjoyed seeing some of my favorite actresses on screen again and hearing the words that I read aloud to myself over the years being said by them. I could also write a whole blog entry on Whoopi Goldberg’s character if I was giving the time. I’ll just say this, people laughed at her cult religious fanaticism but I saw it as a comment on how people get so caught up in religion, it keeps them from dealing with the world outside of it. I also think Whoopi Goldberg played the ‘hoarder’ and mental disorder part with accuracy and subtleness. The movie also serves as a reminder that Loretta Devine is a fantastic actress that keeps getting crap roles. No, really. Go to her imdb.com page. That has to stop. I’m serious about this. If Lottery Ticket comes out with a sequel, she better say no.