Why I Was Happy To 'Think Like A Man'4/23/2012
I have been thinking a lot about the representation of black bodies in black films and how that r...
I have been thinking a lot about the representation of black bodies in black films and how that reflects on the black community. As I start to go through the list in my head (Precious, For Colored Girls, and the host of Tyler Perry films) I realize that many of these films that are suppose to highlight and celebrate the black experience on the contrary reaffirm and assert damaging stereotypes about black women and black men.
Whether it is intentional or not, popular movies made in the new millennia are reproducing negatives images of black people. All of a sudden, there is only one type of black person, one type of black experience. Tyler Perry constantly recreates the down and out single black female who is running from some abusive black man. And every time I see these situations reincarnated with each new film, I’m wondering “is that it?”
I am not trying to invalidate this experience. Yes, there are black men who are abusive, violent, drug dealers, etc, as they are black women who are addicts, promiscuous, struggling, etc. However, where is the alternative? These adjectives are not representative of the entire black community. What is not frequently portrayed are those black men and women who are succeeding and doing the right thing. Think Like a Man a predominantly black cast happens to portray a different aspect of black life. In fact, the film reaffirmed and present a black identity that is outside popular images that have dominated the silver screen.
Think Like a Man challenges these stereotypes and provides the audience a glimpse into a different life. For the first time in a while, sense classic movies such as Love Jones, Love and Basketball, and Disappearing Acts I walked out of the movie theater with a smile on my face and confident in the possibility of black love and positive feelings about being a black woman. It felt good to see Michael Ealy as an aspiring chef instead of veteran suffering from post traumatic stress and throwing his kids out the window.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to discredit the experiences of domestic violence, post traumatic stress and abuse, I just like seeing a diverse black experience. Taraji P. Henson was glowing as the independent CEO. And Meagan Good shined as the chic girl who was into reading the work of greek philosophers and listening to old vinyls.
In the American society, where the criminalization and demonization of the black body is an every day occurrence present in law, politics, and especially the media it is important to have a diversity in the images of black people, life, and culture. The fact is, we want the little black girls and boys to know that there are other options, other possibilities. It is time to reclaim the black identity and shed light on the diversity of our experience.
Think Like a Man is refreshing and a proof that we are more than our stereotypes.
Shanita Ealey student at Columbia University and aspiring writer. Enjoys having heated discussions about social and political issues in the black community.