One of the things you learn as a New Yorker is how to navigate the streets safely. You need to be aware of your surroundings at all times, and you should be prepared to encounter things that are unpleasant and/or unexpected. At least once a week I find myself stepping around a pool of vomit—sometimes it’s on the subway stairs, sometimes on the train itself. I’ve learned to keep moving: watch where you step, but don’t linger. Closer inspection will only make the sight and smell of it that much worse.
On Wednesday a friend and I went to see Jumping the Broom. It was pouring rain when we left the theater and so we didn’t conduct our usual post-film analysis over dinner, but here’s a hint: before the film even ended, Rosa turned to me and said, “Ready to go?” Staying an extra ten minutes didn’t do anything to improve my overall impression of this film. The next morning I woke up thinking that blogging about Jumping the Broom was a lot like looking too closely at vomit on the street. It’s a mess. You know it’s a mess. So don’t waste time trying to analyze the mess. It’s not YOUR mess, so don’t waste time trying to tidy it up. Leave it alone.
Rosa and I met up again yesterday to see the Elizabeth Catlett exhibit at the Bronx Museum. Every so often we’d find ourselves recalling yet another problematic aspect of Jumping the Broom. Why did the African American groom work for Goldman Sachs, the firm that played a significant role in the current economic crisis? Why did the ditzy light-light-light-skinned bride wear a bra and panties or skintight clothes the entire film–and why was there no evidence of the 500K her parents supposedly spent on her education (or her high-powered job in China)? Why were the dark-skinned women totally effed up—terse and frigid if she’s rich (Angela Bassett) or coarse and mouthy if she’s working class (Loretta Devine)? Why were there so many gratuitous bikini shots? Why was the chef digging for clams onshore in hip-waders and no shirt? Why do black women actors allow themselves to be cast in these roles? Why did I pay $9.50 for that crap when I didn’t get off my behind to go see recent indie films like I Will Follow and Night Catches Us? That’s really the only question that matters.
The art of Elizabeth Catlett is stunning. And I’m reading an interesting novel, Ancestor Stones, by Aminatta Forna. And on Wednesday I was interviewed by a class of 5th graders at Thurgood Marhsall Academy Lower School—SO bright and inquisitive and thoughtful. My student guide, Jaden, informed me that he plans to become a writer and is interested in this guy named Tolkien…all of which is to say, “Don’t look down. Look UP!”