Is it just me or has black romance gotten increasingly more colorful in the movies?
When I posed this question to Halle Berry two years ago when she was doing press for "Perfect Stranger," she kind of shrugged her shoulders and said "I was with Gary Dourdan." Yeah, she was for about two seconds, but her love interest was Bruce Willis. "I like to mix it up," Berry said when pressed further. The last time she was paired with a brother on screen was 1998's "Why Do Fools Fall in Love" when she played one of Frankie Lymon's (Larnez Tate) three wives. The last time she hooked up with a tasty chocolate treat in a memorable feature film was in 1992's"Boomerang" opposite Eddie Murphy.
This week we've got Big Willie Smith hooked up with Charlize Theron. She's currently married but late in the film it's revealed that the two of them have wrinkled some sheets as well. I was racking my brain trying to remember the last time Smith was actually with a sister on the big screen but had to look it up.
OK, it was Gabrielle Union in 2003's "Bad Boys II."
Aside from Denzel Washington, who reportedly doesn't like to do love scenes with women of any hue (he had a Puerto Rican wife in "American Gangster" but that film was based on real-life mobster Frank Lucas), Smith and Berry are two of Hollywood's most bankable talents.
So, what does this all mean?
Maybe nothing. But perhaps the underlying message is that the guys calling the shots are still subscribing to the theory that black folks can't carry films by themselves. If Theron had been replaced by Regina King, Sanaa Lathan or Nia Long, would "Hancock" have made $40 million as opposed to grossing more than $187 million worldwide last weekend?
If Berry had screwed over Denzel, Morris Chestnut or Terrance Howard in "Stranger" would that movie have won its opening weekend instead of bombing like it did?
On one hand I'm happy that Hollywood is sort of buying into this colorblind society we all want to live in. And at the end of the day I don't really care that Smith is kissing Eva Mendes instead of Tasha Smith. But I'm not really buying the hype. It's not really about some serendipitous notion of equality devised by some guy wearing a baseball cap and Chuck Taylors, it's always about the green.
Despite the statistics showing how much money black folks spend at the local multiplex they don't fully believe in us--yet. We can come to the party we just can't dance.
In an era in which a black man is going to be President--and yes, I'm projecting--all this kind o makes me wonder. How about you?