Steel Magnolias and Positive Black Images Are Not Above Critique

Originally posted on Ashleigh, Not Ashley 

Like many sistas across the country, I was watching the Steel Magnolias remake Sunday night and tweeting about it. As I do with anything I critique, I’m open about my like or dislike for something. It doesn’t matter what it’s about or who is in it, I’m honest about my opinions and feelings about it. I wasn’t too fond of this remake and I wasn’t shy about it.

But that isn’t what this post is about. No, this post is about people who seem to think anything (or anyone) that isn’t ratchet is above criticism. As I and several other critiqued Steel Magnolias, several other came to its defense saying it shouldn’t be criticized because it showed positive images of Black people and it was better than the reality television that has been dominating the airwaves as of late.

That is a total and complete load of crap.

This isn’t the first time I’ve seen people use this argument. I saw it with Red Tails. I saw it with Reed Between the Lines. For some reason, there is a certain section of Black America that thinks any and everything positive is above critique. It doesn’t matter if it’s boring, badly written, culturally inaccurate or anything else as long as it doesn’t feature negroes fighting, tossing drinks or any other type of chaos.

Yes, the balance of positive images of Black folks to negative ones is severely off but that won’t get better if we just accept anything for the sake it lacking ratchetness. If anything, it’ll have Hollywood thinking they can just throw any ol’ “positive” movie or television show at us. I want characters with nuances. I admit reality television is one of my guilty pleasures but nothing thrills me like something with a good story line and even better character development. That’s why I just can’t get with something for the sake of it being positive.
Sure, it was nice to see a stable Black family via Reed Between the Lines but that doesn’t change the fact that it bored me to tears and the story line wasn’t much to get excited about.

It was nice to see the likes of Phylicia Rashad, Alfre Woodard and  Queen Latifah act together but that doesn’t change the bad southern accents, the absence of certain cultural ques and other things that made me not enjoy that movie.

To me, something that is really positive is complex and it has nuances. The Black community isn’t mostly comprised of ratchetness and it isn’t sunshine and smokescreens either. Our only choices shouldn’t be bland and ratchet.

Our media and art should reflect our complexities.

What do you think? How should the black community approach critiquing our media and art forms?

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