Monday, May 17, 2010

Just Wright - Are We Really That Different

by today's Urban Chameleon contributor Aireka Muse

I’m frustrated. Irritated.

I saw Just Wright today and set out to write about the relationship between Queen Latifah and Common and got pissed off and sidetracked by a CNN video of a panelists (including Phylicia Rashad and Roland Martin) discussing the movie.

Why is it such a big deal that Black People have jobs?

Why is it such a big deal that an actually well made romantic comedy has two black leads in it?

It just infuriates me that Hollywood has pinned us up so far in a box that once we get a great movie with real non stereotypical shuckin and jivin characters were “defying the rules”. Guess what Hollywood, Black people come in all shapes and sizes, different parts of the country, even come from different social economic backgrounds. And guess what sometimes the big black girl wins! You know the chick with a job, a house, and a father that loves her!

I don’t know why I am surprised. As a black female screenwriter, I deal with this all the time. I once received coverage of a script where the reader said my dialogue wasn’t real because the educated lead character went from being professional to using words like “aint” with her friends. Recently, a hollywood producer was afraid to read my pilot about dysfunctional private school parents because he had a project with an African American writer about an African girl in boarding school. Because we're both black woman obviously the ideas have to be similar, right? There are thousands of Leslie Wright's walking this earth who deserve to see their stories. Tyler Perry is not the authority of the Black American experience. Mike Elliot has been doing this a lot longer then he has. So has Sanaa Hamri. There are thousands of Black industry professionals out there that deserve to be heard. And as shocking as it might seem, all of our stories are NOT the same.

The rant is coming from the fact that I enjoyed “Just Wright”. It was a feel good movie about black people that had nothing to do with race. It’s true sometimes we have a day where we don’t discuss how black we are, or how much race affects our every waking moment. Sometimes our race is just that, so deeply rooted in who we are that there isn’t a separation that even needs to be discussed. I’m thankful for “Just Wright” and hopefully this movie begins to open doors for other folks but CNN, as much as I thankful for the publicity, black people with jobs that fall in love is NOT news. As much as the WASHINGTON POST, NIGHTLINE, and all the other media outlets want you to believe the opposite, black people fall in love, get married and stay together, more often then not.

Towards the end Phylicia Rashad looks just as irritated with the conversation as I am. Just like the Queen she is, she brings the discussion to an end with:

" We were being human, we were being ourselves... People, and I mean people all over this planet, are much more alike then we can ever be different"

Maybe the only thing we need to do is stop making the possibility of having universally relatable films with African American leads a conundrum and the rest of the world will follow.

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