love and relationships
On MONTANA FISHBURNE: LOVE and RESPONSIBILITY8/25/2010
What are our responsibilities to those we love? Those we are connected to in family, friendships a...
What are our responsibilities to those we love? Those we are connected to in family, friendships and relationships? Are we free to be all that we desire?
Montana Fishburne, daughter of the celebrated and esteemed actor Laurence Fishburne, recently launched a much-maligned “career” in porn. Her father is reportedly devastated. Montana quotes him as saying “I'm not going to speak with you till you turn your life around,” going on to say that his daughter “embarrassed him.”
Montana, or “Chippy D”, the stage name she chose for herself, says she understands Laurence’s point of view, but that this has nothing to do with him. Montana says she became interested in the porn industry, on her own, at the age of 18, and she doesn’t view her choice to enter adult entertainment as an affront to her father, or an attempt to sully the family name. Is the senior Fishburne justified in his position? He has every right to feel how he needs to about his daughter’s decisions, embarrassed or otherwise, but is he justified? Does Montana owe her life’s choices to her relationship to her father? In other words, should Montana’s actions be restricted simply due to her familial ties? To what extent is she obligated to remain “in line” with her father’s image? While Montana’s decision to enter into the sex industry itself may or may not speak to greater issues within the Fishburne family dynamic, ultimately Montana’s employment choices are hers and hers alone.
Others have attached Montana’s porn aspirations to the plight of all Black women saying she is doing us a disservice, reinforcing negative stereotypes or the meme perpetuated in popular culture of the hypersexual Black woman. Montana does not see it this way at all. “Regardless if I’m Black, Yellow or White, it shouldn’t matter,” she tells Vibe. Montana’s detachment is reflective of the fallacious worldview many young Americans hold, privileged or not. She does not see the difference between herself and other non-Black celebutantes who have released sex tapes and made money in the adult entertainment industries, using that infamy to climb to stardom. Should the reputation of all Black woman rest on the shoulders of one Hollywood daughter who has decided to do porn? What is her obligation to us?
I would venture to say none. As much as I would like to have seen Montana take a traditional (or normal nepotistic) foray into entertainment success, I cannot force my values onto her. She claims she is making a conscience decision as an adult about the professional opportunities she plans to pursue. Should my distaste or differing socialization be enough to confine her? Not at all.
Whether you agree with Montana’s positions or not, the situation raises other questions. Where do we draw the line between our personal choices and the relationships we are in? How much should we factor in the effect our actions will have on those close to us? As average citizens, are our family names not as worthy of preservation as famous ones? What about in friendships? They say you are the company you keep. Would you distance yourself from someone in your inner sister-circle because they decided to become a stripper or take any job you deemed controversial for that matter? Should we contain our passions or taboo interests based on the reactions of those we love? In romantic matters, how much power should our partners carry? Should you choose where you will work, how you will behave (within reason) and what you will say in public forums (especially in light of the constant stage of social networking) in direct concert with how your mate will respond? It’s certainly something worth examining. Some may not agree with your choices and interests, but that is not enough to obstruct your liberty. Like Montana Fishburne, we are free to live as we’d like to... whether we embarrass ourselves or not.
Angela Ford Johnson is a Philly-based writer and consultant, affectionately known as Angie Writes. Follow her on Twitter (www.twitter.com/angiewrites) and Tumblr (http://soulfuloutbursts.tumblr.com/)