It’s 2019 and Some Asshat Greenlit and Distributed ‘Loqueesha’
It’s the dumpster fire you’re expecting it to be.
If you haven’t seen the trailer yet because it keeps getting pulled off the internet, white comedian Jeremy Saville writes, directs, and stars in a film titled Loqueesha. Yes, that is correct. It seems to be a play on the word loquacious while simultaneously snubbing its nose at “black people names.” Be sure to tell Caitlyn, Katelynn, Katlin, or however she spells her name.
Despite being an official selection at the San Luis Obispo (black population: 1.5%) International Film Festival, Black Twitter was quick to the draw on this one. While it looks very indie, a film like this can do some racial damage. If you are still confused about why this film would be astonishingly racist and sexist, let me break it down:
The trailer starts with a white man “telling it like it is.”
Several characters tell the white, male protagonist that he is “funny” and he “dispenses good advice.” But Saville’s character is just “telling it like it is.” You know, like a magical negro black woman. Since it’s every white male’s dream to be George Carlin, this just seems natural that Saville will write a script praising his own comedic talents. After getting some affirmation from a black woman (the highest of wokeness praise, I’m told), Saville’s character applies to a radio talk show, even though “women and minorities are encouraged to apply.” In a scenario that would never happen, Saville is rejected and he concludes it would be perfect if he was a woman of color.
Instead of just applying to the thousands of other jobs that would allow a mediocre white man to just waltz in with no experience, Saville decides to pretend to be a black woman and occupy black spaces instead. I mean, it’s 2019. Dude could just build an app or something.
I’m assuming he had to submit a W-9, an I-9, his social security number or something in order to get paid and therefore this premise couldn’t exist lest he is committing employment fraud, but I could be wrong. But let’s be clear: white men are not in danger of being silenced. They always speak their mind.
The protagonist needs the radio talk show job to send his son to an expensive private school.
It’ll take me all day to break down why American private schools are problematic and racially-based. But it’s like Saville did literally no research on modern-day school segregation before writing his ode to the black experience. But also, he is taking a job because he needs to pay for his son’s private school tuition. Not because of literally any other financial problem minorities usually face. Because minorities — especially women of color — are paid less than white men and therefore have less discretionary income and have to stretch their dollars more in their day-to-day lives.
Saville defended his film, stating that “White Chicks” was a thing.
White Chicks. The “they-did-it, why-can’t-we” defense for white people who don’t know anything about the history of cinema. White Chicks was dumb. Very dumb. But white people have a history of masquerading as black people for comedic effect long before any of the Wayans were conceived. And black filmmakers have attempted to respond to the blackface.
Since only film nerds have seen Melvin Van Peebles’s American debut Watermelon Man, let’s just say Van Peebles was inspired by The Jazz Singer, Kafka’s Metamorphosis, and Frantz Fanon’s writings to discuss how race defines societal self-worth and otherness. In Watermelon Man, a white man wakes up one day to find himself black. He cannot take off this mask and must live the rest of his existence dealing with his white friends and family’s implicit bias. He must accept his new race. But then The Jerk and Soul Man happened and threw that racial examination out the window. In fact, Loqueesha seems to ape (yes, I’m using that word) Soul Man’s entire premise: a white man stealing an affirmative action opportunity for his own personal gain. I would say that’s unusual, but you know, there is an extensive history of stealing things meant for nonwhite use for white financial gain. Soul Man’s protagonist learns only superficial lessons from this experience and goes right back to being white (and rich) in Reagan’s America. That was peak whiteness for any whites who were alive. Ask negative-billionaire Donald Trump.
You don’t love black women. You don’t like sassy black women, angry black women, or even the black woman boss. We are a joke to you.
Not enough people are talking about the fact Loqueesha is a magical negro stereotype. She’s helping her mostly white audience be confident through the “blackness” in her voice. That’s not how black girl magic works.
Unless you are black and female-presenting, you have no idea what it is like to be us. Stop saying that you are a “confident black woman on the inside.” You’re you on the inside.
The daily struggle for Black women is existing without everyone trying to control “our attitudes” or any of our own choices. Black Church centers lectures around black women dressing provocatively or not fixing a man a plate or allowing a man “room to become a man.” In other words, black women are expected to carry black men through their own struggles of being black while dealing with our own. We are trained to look the other way if our man makes “mistakes,” but we are held to an impossible standard of being supportive while not overshadowing. If we fail at this task by doing something as simple as being ambitious in our own careers or standing up for ourselves in mixed-company, we are at risk of being Loqueesha. And Loqueeshas aren’t valued as human beings. Only as a caricature.
I imagine there will be some black men who defend this movie. There will also be some black men who will virtue signal for his “queens.” But I would remind you that misogynoir is also a thing, and we black women are always calling black men out on their overt sexism towards us. Black men are still men and have the tendency to categorize black women based on their appearance and adjacentness to either white feminity or submissive motherhood. Black male comedians also dig into these painful, sexist stereotypes for a cheap laugh. Whether it’s Madea, Rasputia from Norbit, or Sheneneh from Martin, the message is the same. These are loud, large, unattractive, emasculating women with attitudes.
This stereotype has a name: the Sapphire, named after a henpecking wife in Amos N’ Andy. She is an overly-confident, neck-snapping, stocky or obese, usually dark-skinned woman with a complicated name. She believes men should do whatever she says and will make the man in her life miserable if she even has one. But this stereotype is used as an excuse to silence black women. To minimize our pain. To state we have no one but ourselves if we cannot find someone to love us as much as we love us.
Black women at work are considered fun to white coworkers until performance time. You berate black women “with attitudes” in customer service jobs. You may even attack them.
I was told by a white supervisor once that I was “loud.” My husband continues to lecture me on “smiling” and “being friendly” to people who are intimidated to talk to me. But why are they intimidated to talk to me? I can’t even sit still and do nothing without being accused of being “antisocial” or “unfriendly.”
I’m unapologetically feminist these days and given the political climate, I noticed an increase of vitriol I receive both online and in-person. Most of that vitriol is from entitled white males who feel threatened that others are demanding equal treatment. And this movie feels just as reactionary. It’s the same old tale of some white person who feels like affirmation action is a strike against them and that minorities unfairly are stealing their jobs.
By the way: Sheneneh may have been considered uncouth, but she owned her own successful salon in her mid-20s and she lived alone. Homegirl was an entrepreneur so maybe give her some respect.
What’s the movie’s end game?
What is this movie trying to prove? What is Jeremy Saville trying to prove? Why does he think he can represent black women and why does he think this is flattering? Verbal blackface, seriously? Our bodies and speech are not yours to laugh at. A white man doing verbal blackface isn’t a role model for black women, despite what the trailer says.