No Slaves, No Brutality: We Deserve a Holiday

His Side: The Best Man Holiday makes us, especially men, feel good about who we are.

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There will certainly be people who see The Best Man Holiday as a guilty pleasure, a story that doesn’t represent the realities of black life. As Boyd told me, “Some people feel as though black existence should only be represented as struggle. And many of the people who feel this way are black.”

 I felt it was important to go see Fruitvale Station during its opening weekend, the same weekend the jury in the State of Florida v. George Zimmerman trial was sent to deliberate. I felt, and still feel, stories like Oscar Grant's deserve to be made into movies, and once they are, they need support.

But on the night I went, a chilling coincidence took place.

While I was waiting in line to grab some movie snacks, a small commotion of people sighing and audibly seething erupted behind me. I received a text from a friend, “I’m so sorry.” I heard someone whisper, “Zimmerman got off.”

George Zimmerman was found innocent of killing Trayvon Martin.

In the theater, a woman screamed, “George Zimmerman was found innocent y’all!” as she ran out of the theater. But I, along with the rest of the audience, remained seated and prepared to watch a movie based on a true story, in which we already knew the ending, just as we heard the tragic ending to a similar story of another black man getting unjustifiably murdered.

The truth about all of the fine performances we’ve seen from black men this year is that they’re all based on true stories. Slavery, police brutality, servitude, unjustifiable imprisonment, senseless murder motivated by undiagnosed mental illness—these themes are explored in the lion’s share of movies made this year about black men.

The Best Man Holiday, on the other hand, is fictitious. But when Malcolm Lee told The Root that the film’s characters have grown up and that the film itself would be dealing with things like “mortgage payments” and other issues “that come up and change your life,” I was relieved.

I know the previews to The Best Man Holiday make it look like an extended version of the music video for Boyz II Men and Brian McKnight’s “Let It Snow,” but I loved every minute of it, not just because it’s a black film, not just because (spoiler alert) that brief little clip in the trailer of all four guys singing New Edition's “Can You Stand The Rain” actually plays out for the entire song, but because the audience in the theater, made up entirely of people who were the same complexion as the actors on the screen, was smiling, laughing and “yeaassss-ing” their hearts out.

For the length of the movie, whatever bad news we had going on in our own lives or saw being played out in the media was forgotten. Had there been an offering plate going around to fund a Best Man Part III, everyone would’ve given up all the cash they had. Because as proud as we may be over the batch of groundbreaking films we’ve seen released this year, we can still make room for a movie that makes us feel good about who we are.

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