Saturday, May 21, 2011

Jumping the Broom: Cinema Verite, or an Urban Gospel Fairy Tale?

I don't often discuss movies - in fact, I have never done so before today. I read an interesting article by film maker Tariq Alexander, discussing the film, "Jumping the Broom." Produced by prolific pastor/author/entrepreneur Bishop T.D. Jakes, the film deals with the issues of marriage, sexual purity, and the class struggle as expressed in the context of the African American experience. The cast includes veteran actors Loretta Devine, Angela Bassett, Mike Epps, Tasha Smith, and Meagan Goode, along with lesser known actors Paula Patton and Laz Alonzo. The combination of themes, talent, and the beautiful scenery of Martha's Vineyard makes it a pleasant virtual vacation for a couple of hours at the matinee.

One responder to Alexander's piece argued that the movie's premise of class-based black-on-black crime was so unrealistic as to be comedic all by itself. Even though we know that there are wealthy African Americans - you know, Oprah, P-Diddy, MJ (Jordan, not Jackson) and T.D. himself - still, few of us personally know any, no matter how often we claim to be related to one (yeah, me and Tisha Campbell - wait, she isn't one of them). As a result, the images portrayed in this movie, at least as it relates to the family of the bride, can be seen as an unrealistic mockery of our grinding, unending struggle to at least appear to be "movin' on up to the East Side."

The movie never discusses how the Watson family achieved its status, excepting a brief reference by the mother to the effect that their family history puts them in the category of slave owners rather than slaves. It is clear that the distance between Watson and Taylor families is greater than the drive time from the island to the post office place of employment for Pam Taylor, mother of Jason Taylor, the lucky(?) guy who is about to marry the alleged woman of every black man's dreams, cute, sexy, and successful Sabrina Watson. Throw in the added spice of the light-skinned sistah/dark-skinned brothah romance, and you have a movie that seems tailor-made to give us something to talk about.

Ahhh, so much to say, so little time... Is it realistic to expect a guy to go 5 months subsisting on smokey kisses and longing looks? Can a guy from the Hood make the ultimate connection with a girl from the Hamptons? Can you really have a wedding reception without doing the Electric Slide? I guess you'll have to spend your $7.50 and find out. What I would like to know, right now, is how I can find the kind of job, opportunity, inheritance - something - that will allow me to drink fancy breakfast drinks that contain something more carbonated than Sprite. I have been reading and listening, and one thing I think I have learned, some sistahs may not know how to cook like momma, but they still want you to take care of them like daddy. Like many men, I relish the role of the Handsome Prince, but I don't own a kingdom yet. I am still seeking that fortune that will put me over the top, and make me the most eligible bachelor in America, although, hopefully, not for long. I have tried MLM, writing with advertizements (don't forget to click one of the links for me), working from home, and applying to everything that Monster.com sends my way.

It seems to me that, while we wait for Jesus to return, we have to live, love, and eat. We would prefer to do those things comfortably. We live in what is claimed to be the richest, most powerful nation on earth, but a lot of people seem to be feeling rather weak since the the real estate collapse that took hold by 2007. If there are keys to prosperity, should those who may have found them keep that info to themselves, or should charity, having done well at home, begin to spread abroad? Can I learn the secret to wealth without having to spend $799 for a video series, live phone support, and the opportunity to buy the next hot new product that promises to be more of a game changer than was the last one?

"Jesus is the answer for the world today," and "the Bible is Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth," but I have not yet found the chapter that tells me how to get a piece of the pie without taking it out of a Mrs. Smith's box. Of course, I am not the most prolific Bible scholar on the planet, so someone might know where that chapter can be found, so that I can get busy putting it into practice. Trust me, if it works for me, I'll be happy to share the info without taking four easy payments from you. I just want to know what is achievable, and how it becomes achievable, if I am willing to become, "not just a hearer of the word, but a doer of the word." Can Jesus take me from Brooklyn to Martha's Vineyard, without my having to marry into it? Perhaps a better question might be, "Should He?" This inquiring mind really wants to know!

I'm just sayin'...
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