Jumping the Broom isn’t so bad, as long as the handle is low…

This past Friday the 13th, I decided to stick with tradition, and go see a horror movie. But my overpriced ticket to Jumping the Broom was not quite as horrible as I expected. Before I delve into the details, let me say that the key to enjoying any movie experience is to go in with low expectations. This moment of finite pessimism works for the cinema, but not for life which has infinite expectation, so it is not an argument in favor of low expectations in general, but only for given moments, like almost any movie involving Hollywood born films featuring “African American culture.”

The movie began with an adorably gorgeous character played by Paula Patton facing a shameful morning after scene where the guy she just slept with has a phone conversation with another girlfriend (or wife) in front of her. She makes a promise to God that she wont engage in any such physical intimacy unless it was with the guy she marries. And low and behold, moments later, she runs her car into said wonderful, hot, considerate, good job having man. But the every day realism doesn’t end there. She is exceedingly wealthy, a woman of pedigree with a good job, and he is a pulled up by his bootstraps, fine specimen of a man but from “the hood.” So of course when it comes time for the wedding, the family mix is like oil and water. Or maybe like wine and kool-aid. Either way, they don’t mix. The resulting drama is like driving in a straightforward 4 lane highway of entertainment. It didn’t offer unexpected twists or turns of amusement, and was not really laugh out loud funny, but it did the job of maintaining interest. As with everything else in life, there were some good points and bad points:

The good:

I actually thought this movie had a good message, and ultimately, that was that people in relationships should stick together, and that people in your family, no matter what their particular neuroses, should be loved unconditionally. I loved that the mother of the bride (played by Angela Basset) and the father of the bride stuck together despite the obvious issues they needed to work through. Also when the bride and groom faced challenges and stressors, they too decided that their status as a couple, as a unit, would guide them through difficulty.

It showed a diversity of “African American culture” albeit a very clichéd one. There really are certain levels of dissociation that exists amongst Black folk, and I thought the movie did a good job of bringing to light the essence of some of those issues. Although both the mother of the bride and the mother of the groom were both overbearing bitches, their obnoxiousness showed a distinct polarity of Black woman abrasiveness, and thus offered a nice layering of negative portrayal.

The bad:

On the flip side, the movie did reinforce an unrealistic portrayal of a “prince charming” type who is completely wonderful and sweeps a woman off her feet. The couple was happily going to the opera, to picnics in central park, he proposed to her suddenly with violins in the evening, El Debarge himself crooning, pleading over piano keys, everything was very fairytale-ish, as it should be. Problem is women who watch this are left disappointed with their own reality. But the real problem is that men don’t watch enough of these movies, or aren’t inspired to live up to these beautiful movie moments.

The story made an attempt at some secret familial drama to thicken the plot, but all of the “issues” in the movie were very easily resolved. You were never left wondering what would happen.

There were a lot of dangling modifiers and incomplete thoughts. For example, the wedding planner was a very potentially funny character, but her perspective and purpose in the story was completely underdeveloped. They could have either done without her, or incorporated her into some sort of hilarious plot progression or at least a source of consistent rhetoric. Additionally, the ‘bourgie’ bridesmaid (played by Meagan Good) had some sort of affair with the chef (Gary Dourdan) which was supposed to be a scandal, but was left hanging like an untied shoelace. The whole thing just made you kind of shrug your shoulders.

Then the most dramatically compelling part leaves a disappointing sense of blue-balls. As the strongest protagonist (the mother of the groom played by Loretta Divine) spins a constant web of hatred, she is finally clearly outted, her true colors fuming, and in that moment, we are expecting her son to explode on her, to put her rightfully in her place! He returns in a storm, and then lets out a light drizzle at best, showing her he was, upset, but devoid of real anger. That was annoying.

The hilarious

The most hilarious part (although not meant to be) was when the chef (Gary Dourdan) was seducing the bridesmaid (a very easy job I might add) with an oyster and champagne. That did it. The next scene together, they were ‘at it’ in the kitchen, and then the next scene, she was all vulnerable asking him “What do you think of me?” You know what his response was? I hate to spoil the movie if you haven’t seen it, but I have to share this gem… with a straight actors face, he goes : “You know, you’re like a pomegranate… you have this hard protective shell, but… your beautiful on the inside.”

Did he just call Meagan Good a pomegranate? A pomegranate?? Doesn’t get any better than that folks.

Have Black Women Earned the Right to an Attitude?

Have Black women earned the right to an attitude?

“Reality” media continues to rule the airwaves, giving the world a glimpse into the intentional interaction of anxious exhibitionists with conflicting chemistry. Recently the show Celebrity Apprentice amuses us with a hodge-podge blend of actors, rappers, country music singers, musical legends, sports stars, televisions hosts, you name it. This cast of characters without much in common outside of their celebrity status and jones for the limelight (justified with occasional donations to charity) is thrown together amid circumstances that breed tension and conflict in order to give us (the viewing audience) exactly what we want…. drama. But of course. What else is television for?

As is typically the case on The Apprentice, the men are pitted against the women, which is one of the reasons I watch. It’s fascinating to examine the differences in how groups of men and women interact. Both team have conflict. The men face relational problems and issues just as the women do. But the character and depth of those issues, and how they handle, react and relate to each other, particularly when it counts, is vastly different.

Cultural and racial variety is evident on both teams, and an integral part of the ensuing discord that makes the show somewhat interesting. This season, on the women’s team there are 3 and ¼ Black women. I’m not sure how to qualify Latoya Jackson, so she is counted at the fourth. Not necessarily referring to the “Black” part either. Perhaps the woman part. Or maybe even the presumption of “human” that is derived from the term woman, but I digress…  (slow down, this is totally not meant as disrespect, “humans” are overrated anyway).

So of the remaining 3, there are some strong personalities. Star Jones, Dionne Warwick (which was a mind blower for me), and Nene Leeks (Atl Housewives). In the second episode, the teams were tasked with writing and performing a children’s story for a group of 4 and 5 year old children. I must say, when I found this show on television, I was no less than baffled, having to take a series of pauses to thoughtfully digest who and what was racing before me on screen. After forcing Lisa Rinna (the girl with the oversized collagen lip, who had to actually have a ‘lip reduction’…. (sorry for the double parenthetical, but c’mon man! Ridiculous. And pure irony given all the lip she got right back from Star & Dionne)) to act as the project manager, and thus be potentially ‘fired,’ 2 of the 3 (& ¼) Black women literally nailed her ass to the floor. It was horrible.

Shining in the stench of her own ego, Star began calling the shots. Asserting herself as a true saavy business woman who knows what to do and how to do it, and by necessary circumstance, making Rinna look bad. Truthfully, she was patronizing, demoralizing, cunning, hard, manipulative, and mocking, with just a dash of stank. Rinna might not have been the brightest camper on the bus, but she knew enough to know Star and Warwick had their guns blazing. I thought she did a good job of shielding herself from their largely uncalled for attacks during their process (although she floundered in the boardroom).

Sadly, legendary Dionne Warwick revealed herself as… well, pretty much a bitch. Which means, her previous image is completely fake, which in my estimation makes her akin to a minstrel. It’s one thing if you’re truly happy go lucky with a big bright smile on your face, but if that’s only an act to please the masses, if you’re just shucking and jiving for their delight, while harboring some other deep contradiction in terms of who you really are, then you’re a minstrel show for the masses.

But, as minstrel shows and other forms of Black entertainment were an important stepping stone in the standing and progression of African Americans historically, can we really place blame? Black women in particular have been gravely demoralized, subjugated, dehumanized, and made to bear the brunt of displaced anger from Black men, White men and White women (and that’s putting it mildly). Can we blame Black women for the resulting ‘attitude’ that is stereotypically seen and felt?

In the boardroom scene of the show, both Star and Warwick ripped into Rinna. Hate seething in their eyes, they manipulated the whole conversation. Trump himself saw that they were playing Rinna, and gave her every opportunity to defend herself. He spoon fed her the defensive line of arguments that could have saved her, again reminding me (and probably Star and Warwick) of the gross advantages that White women mindlessly enjoy in relation to so many Black women. Yet even despite this, I found myself unable to muster any camaraderie or sympathetic connection with Star or Warwick. Although they were the stronger more saavy competitor, I found myself disgusted.

But is it the case that Black women have earned a right to this type of attitude? Have I have sold out? Turned a blind eye to a traumatic legacy that may lay the foundation of stone resistance and brash determination? Or is this heinous attitude a farce to begin with, largely perpetrated by media? Or is it just the case that despite it’s anthropological roots, if it walks like a duck and talk like a duck…. it’s probably just a bitch?

Disney is the Devil

We’re all well aware of the media’s profound power to shape and influence the minds of it’s public, particularly the youth. Some are harmless silly trends, but some are timeless penetrating images that truly impact out mindset. Working with kids, I am able to witness firsthand the popular media influences of the time. So when the little girls come into class proudly flexing their Disney princess paraphernalia I want to wretch. I waste no time with my counter-propaganda, rolling my eyes when they show off their notebook, ‘inadvertently’ positioning the stickers they earn over each dreamy blue eye on their book until the whole face is covered. These are the girls to whom I refuse to give pink pieces of construction paper, to whom I give puzzles, and share my love for basketball and chess. And yes, I ultimately want them to think for themselves, and this is what I challenge them to do the most, but the pernicious influence of the Disney princess characters either is or at least stands for all that is wrong with the plight of women today.

Although they are disgustingly antiquated notions of womanhood, and girlhood, the Disney princesses still remain a significant presence within the culture of our youth to date! In 2000 and friggin 11, little girls still dress up as these idiotic princesses for Halloween and are hypnotized into dainty submission by the blinding glinting sparkles that distract them from their truth. They choose to ignore their own beauty, dive into fairytale instead, and are left to identify with the most superficial of ideals.

Most of the princess series that I’ve seen on countless lunchboxes, notebooks, folders, etc., feature many princesses standing side by side. Typically Cinderella rests prominently in the middle, forming the soft white center, from which the princesses on the outskirts show varying degrees of ‘dark’ (from hair to eyes to skin) as the more tan or dark featured princesses remain relegated to the edge. This cacophonous representation of diversity is a joke, as each and every one of the females reflects a nearly impossible standard from any ethnicity supposedly accounted for. But blatant racism aside, let’s focus on three clear reasons why these awful princess images have been and continue to be harmful for all young girls.

The helpless princess syndrome

In each of the stories, the princess is yearning, longing for a prince to save her from the wretched empty life that she is forced to endure. Even when she ostensibly does the saving (as in Beauty and the Beast) or starts off as the princess herself (as in Aladdin), the ‘prince charming’ character is the one that gives her what she has been searching for, what she ‘needed all along.’ This teaches young girls that their life is somehow defined by this search for a man. That their life will be unhappy or incomplete, lest it be filled with acknowledgement from (not only a man but from) Prince Charming.

The perpetuated myth of Prince Charming

What is a princess without a prince? In each of these stories fed to our little girls, there is a prince charming that is handsome, adoring and rich (at least always by the end of the story) who loves her into eternity and beyond. Buying into this picture is nothing but a recipe for pain and disaster when the realities of love prove to be a distant cry from what they see on the silver screen. This is certainly not to say that Disney is even the frontrunner in the perpetration of this myth. In fact, it is recreated in almost any chick flick romance that’s out, but the seeds of these ideas are planted somewhere, even in my own head, and Disney is the deepest root I can trace.

Superficial standards

Not only does each of these false princesses represent an almost impossible standard of beauty, but their beauty is the most important and compelling quality that each has to offer. In Cinderella, the whole story was about her getting so dolled up that the prince would take one look at her and fall in love immediately (knowing absolutely nothing of her character). She, after all, was beautiful, unlike her ugly step sisters. There is such a premium placed on physical beauty, and that beauty is shown with unrealistic expectation. A 2 inch waistline, perfect features, super long glamorous hair, smooth flawless skin, soft, dainty, and completely non-threatening. These images can be radically detrimental to the self-perception of a girl as she matures. Princesses and barbies should be DESTROYED! This is why we have a culture obsessed with plastic surgery, bodily perfection, and ultimate unhappiness.

Any women out there with daughters, I implore you to think critically before allowing them to indulge in all of the Disney princess crap. It’s okay to want to be beautiful, but the lessons gleaned from their stories are ultimately destructive and disempowering. That’s how the devil works.

The Real Housewives of Atlanta and the Female Haterade Problem

One of the deepest problems facing women today is HATERISM. Women hate on each other constantly. Is this natural? Instinctual even? (Even Jay-Z touted jealousy as a female trait). Or is this one of the many negative byproducts of an egocentric, fear mongering, dog eat dog competitive society?  Are haters perpetrators? Or are they victims?

There can be no doubt that mass media shapes and forms our perceptions of others (and thusly of ourselves). But let’s take a case in point. The Real Housewives series. Namely the Real Housewives of Atlanta (cuz that’s the only one I watch). Why do I watch it? Same reason as anybody else. It satisfies some urge in me to see human drama played out, to watch conflict and turmoil, and judge and listen. To feel superior. To scoff. To connect with or empathize. To ridicule or to cheer on. HOWEVER, in watching and discussing, it struck me that I was harboring serious disdain for more than half of the women. So why was I watching it? I asked my room full of friends who they liked on the show, and each one mentioned no more than one or two names. So are we watching to connect? Or are we watching to hate???

Well honestly, I have been on a new kick lately. A love EVERYONE kick. And I have definitely been focusing on the things I love about each woman. But seriously? Do I get a small thrill when I feel someone has ‘learned their lesson’ or suffered the consequence of their despicable behavior??? Yep. Or more importantly, am I still judging? Do I still ‘hate’ on these women because I don’t find it legitimate that they should ostensibly ‘enjoy’ so much luxury? That they’re undeserving? Or am I mad at them for representing womanhood this way? For being stupid and trite? Or is that just what I really think of myself then? Why is there part of me that’s still hating? And quietly enjoying it…

Moreover, on the show itself, the housewives are the truest haters out!!!! All they do is sit and talk smack about each other! I wonder if they’re forced through the production to be friends when they really don’t like each other, or if they’re really that two-faced. They delight on gossiping about each other. Marveling at all flawed circumstance. All failures and embarrassments. What a multilayered cycle of hate. They hate on each other. We on them. We on we. All on ourselves.

And we are basically forced to consume all of this. Forced into falsified images of happiness and beauty! Duped into believing that our own lives lack! That we are somehow insubstantial. And the result is hate. Hate and consumption as we try to buy into what we’re missing. Literally. We’re puppets ladies! Puppets! It’s time to cut the strings….

Barfomatic Cinema

So I’m watching Back Up Plan, starring the ‘should have been just actress,’ J-Lo. Cool. Something I can totally relate to. Matter of fact, I have an appointment with the fertility clinic next week. The story starts off good. Independent woman. Left the corporate gig for something more touchy feely. Heart driven and warm. Okay, she’s totally me. Then not 5 minutes into the movie and what happens? Mr. Right. That evil malfeasant being. Mr. Right steps into the picture. Great for our heroine, the character we relate to, but realistic? Let’s see…

After fucking our heroine on the second date, Mr. right decides that he can’t be without her DESPITE THE FACT THAT SHE WAS ALREADY PREGNANT. Date #2. Already fucked. Am I missing something? So apparently I have to tell dudes I’ve been artificially inseminated in order to be actively pursued after fucking? Oh… okay. I’ll try that next time.
After date #2, Mr. right accompanies a pregnant J-Lo to the fertility doctor where they discover that she is carrying twins. Double bang for your buck. How does he respond? Freaked out, but still there. (After all, he’s 2 dates invested).
So she’s getting fat. Throwing up. All this cute stuff, set to the soundtrack that makes us smile and snap in a corn filled utopia. That darn J-Lo’s got it pegged just right…. (sigh) I can’t wait to get pregnant so I can meet the man of my dreams.
With a little baby ponch, this mother of a bitch is getting more action than I’ve considered all year! (So really I’m just bitter and jaded)… : (
And then after sticking in there to almost the final chapter, enduring the most gruesome and painful realities, supporting her in ways unimaginable even for married women, he made one minor blunder… a mere slip of the lip in which he truthfully states that her twins are not his and that… THAT is what formed a rift between them! That was the major transgression that formed the peak of their struggle???  Pardon me, but fucking his ex-girlfriend and getting her pregnant was not enough to part me from my wayward boyfriend, but this mere truthful utterance was enough to let Jlo let her beloved go…. Hmmmm
With a snap of the fingers, she has him back. Rushing with her to the hospital, trying to make up just in time, before she has the babies. Chasing her. Into the delivery room. Imagine that.
He’s so happy with the twin girls, he proposes in front of all her friends. (Sappy orchestra commence)

Realistic? Well, the guys I know can’t commit to a date, a phone call, or even a statement, much less commit to twins that aren’t his after the second date when he’s not even financially stable. But it’s not real life it’s a movie. We’re supposed to feel good. Feel safe. But is the hope we are fed through these images nutritious or noxious? Is this is another smack in the face to single women who watch and continue to wonder…. If Jlo can do it, what’s wrong with me? Or is this a gleaming example of what we should be trying to bring about for ourselves?