What Black Movies Can Do Better

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At Ebony, Damon Young provides a list of tips for black filmmakers who aspire to make movies that measure up to Coming to America and Love Jones.


Anyway, instead of continuing to make the usual myopic and ambiguous remarks about the lack of "memorableness" synonymous with today’s Black films, I’ve decided to be a bit more proactive than usual and list a few of the many things that may need to happen for our movies to move us again.

1. Bring The Sexy Back

If the last decade or so is any indication, "Sexy" has become the Black movie’s boogieman, its most feared four-letter word as sex and anything having to do with it is usually regarded in one of two ways:

A)   A comedic device

B)  The evilest evil of all evils

Seriously, try to think of the last legitimately sexy scene present in a Black movie; any recent scene where the adult sensuality and positive spirit associated with sex was captured on screen. You can’t because, well, there just haven’t been any, and the latent asexual nature present in all of our movies today definitely contributes to their overall lack of resonance.

Also, "more sexy" doesn’t mean "more graphic sex." "Love Jones" is one of the sexiest movies ever made, and it only had one (relatively tame) sex scene.

2. Chill With The Church Scenes 

We all know that we love us some Christ, but does every. single. Black. movie. need to include five to seven perfunctory scenes in a (always) Baptist church? Do we always need for the main character to have a 10 minute long soul bearing heart-to-heart with her "to wise for this world" pastor? Do we really always need to see a man wall-sliding down a pew as he struggles to forgo his past and reconcile with God?

I’m not anti-church, btw. I’m Christian, and I do enjoy attending church on Sunday mornings. Sometimes. But, it seems like the people currently making Black movies have collectively forgotten one of the most important characteristics about service. It is booooooooooooooring. Actually, let me rephrase that. Church itself isn’t always boring, but I can’t think of a less interesting way to spend my time than to watch someone else attending church, and including 15 to 20 minutes of church-related scenes in a 90 minute long movie that has nothing to do with church is the surest way to make sure people remember your movie the same way they remember whatever the hell their pastor wore in service five weeks ago.

3. Hire Better Writers

Consider Angela Nissel, author and former writer for ABC's "Scrubs". If Angela Nissel isn’t available, hire Issa Rae of "Awkward Black Girl" fame. If Issa Rae isn’t available, hire Baratunde Thurston. If they're all busy, then hey, hire me! 


Read Damon Young's entire article at Ebony.

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Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VerySmartBrothas.com. He is also a contributing editor at Ebony.com. He lives in Pittsburgh and he really likes pancakes. You can reach him at damon@verysmartbrothas.com.