Friday, March 08, 2013

Feminist Film Moment - Brown Sugar


(Note: If this post is your first encounter with my Feminist Film Moment postings, kindly read the rules of engagement before reading, commenting, etc.)

Written by Michael Elliot and Rick Famuyiwa

Directed by Rick Famuyiwa

Synopsis:   Best friends Sydney (Sanaa Lathan) and Andre (Taye Diggs) love hip-hop... and possibly each other.  

Moment: Andre's wife Reese confronts Sydney with her love for Andre. 


The two women in this scene are deeply emotionally attached to the same man. Reese (Nicole Ari Parker) is his wife. The other is Sydney (Sanaa Lathan) is his best friend. And here they cross paths at a boxing class. Naturally, their sparring match is going to devolve quickly into a catfight, especially 'cause, you know, they're Black women, right? Wrong!  Daps to screenwriters Michael Elliot and Rick Famuyiwa for resisting lurid expectations by depicting not one but two multidimensional female characters in conflict who handle the matter with maturity and dignity. 

You may argue, "Well, they're just behaving like adults." The fact that they're Black women in love with the same man - one of those proverbial good Black men - makes theirs a feminist interaction because of the racist (both overt and internalized) pearl-clutching over (1) the number of marriageable Black men available and the (2) desirability of Black women.  I have no doubt that if Black women were given more opportunities to write and direct narrative features, scenes such as these would be the norm, reality TV housewives be damned.  Still it's nice to see that some brothers can take the opportunity that male privilege has afforded them and represent the sisters right.  Too few of 'em do. 

And I have to say as a screenwriter, I though this was an effective example of giving characters an interesting context for their conversation, especially when they're characters in conflict. 

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