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Let's get real: brothas don't get no love in Hollywood.
Guest Writer

One role remains out of reach
The black man's new burden
by Stephen Holmes

an anyone explain why black men are the biggest taboo in films? This is especially true when it comes to black men being in relationships with white women. It seems the image of Julia strokin' Denzel's big ... black ... ego is a little too much for the average viewer's sensibilities.

I rented the DVDs "Far From Heaven" and "Dirty Pretty Things," expecting completely different stories (as only independent filmmakers can tell) concerning race and sex; in the past, these types of stories have always been given the standard Hollywood whitewash.

Think about it: other than having a black man and a white woman as leads, how could two films set in different countries with different views on sex and class struggles end with the ebony nobleman choosing to leave the porcelain princess so that they can live better lives?

I'll buy it once, but twice? Let's get real. Hell, brothas don't get no love in Hollywood from anybody. Is there ever going to be a time I see Will and Halle heat it up on screen together? That, however, is a topic for another rant.

For some odd reason the film industry has always prided itself on being an artistic medium that not only entertains, but also chronicles the changing world around us – an artistic industry of progression. If this is true, why do "Far From Heaven," "Dirty Pretty Things" and other films of their ilk plod across the same tired terrain?

Set in 1957 Connecticut, "Far From Heaven" concerns the struggles of Cathy Whitaker (Julianne Moore) a housewife who has become friendly with her black gardener, Raymond Deagan (Dennis Haysbert).

A man's a man: no way ol' Ray ain't gonna try and hit it at least once.

It seems that Cathy's growing feelings for Deagan are much more of a no-no in 1957 than her husband's "little problem," which has nothing to do with myths that may or may not be true, but rather, his growing attraction to men. Throughout the movie, Frank Whitaker (Dennis Quaid) struggles with both his homosexuality and the community's disgust at his wife's chaste friendship.

As a Christmas present, Cathy plans a trip with Frank to Florida. While in sunny Miami, Frank hooks up with a young blond man whom he can't seem to get out of his system, even after he heads back to Connecticut.

Now, get this – he leaves Cathy for the blond ... it's now 1958 and he has no problem leaving his family for a guy. Meanwhile, Cathy goes to the "other side of town" to confess her feelings for and to Raymond. She's even willing to leave her comfy routine to be with him.

Raymond, wanting to give his daughter a chance in life, declines Cathy's advances. PLEASE. A man's a man, no matter the color; no way 'ol Ray ain't gonna try and hit it at least once – even if he decides to move on afterwards.

Not all films about a budding relationship between a black man and white woman are set during America's more transitional decades (the '50s and '60s) and feature Haysbert ("Far From Heaven" and "Love Field").

Tautou and Ejiofor as Senay and Okwe: they share a flat, but nothing else.

"Dirty Pretty Things" is set in modern-day London and deals with Senay (Audrey Tautou), a maid at a hotel who eventually falls in love with her coworker, Okwe (Chiwetel Ejiofor), an emigrant from Africa. They share a flat, but nothing else.

When he rejects her confessions of love, Senay become a little slutty. Yada, yada, yada ... he eventually packs her off to America and goes back to Africa to collect his daughter so that she can have a better life.

Is this beginning to sound familiar?

Sounding familiar: the role of a fully formed man is the one that remains out of reach.

While these two films aren't new to movie houses or video stores, they are the most recent examples of the black man's burden in films.

We are depicted as characters: drug dealers, players (in black films only), action heroes, buffoons or modern-day Sidney Poitiers (white films only).

The one role that remains out of our reach is that of a man. A man who is sometimes fallible, isn't always dignified and is receptive to love – even if the love is coming from the lighter side of the crayon box.

Watching "Dirty Pretty Things" and "Far From Heaven" made me think about yet another movie with which I had a problem.

One of the threads that weaved through Steven Soderbergh's "Traffic" was how a white suburban teen-ager (Erika Christensen) began experimenting with drugs.

Throughout the movie her steady dependence on drugs was largely under-recognized by her family. The depth of her abuse isn't fully realized until the audience sees her aggressively having sex with a black crack dealer in order to score drugs.

A brother finally gets a sex scene in a white movie (with a white woman, no less) and it's used as a device to demonstrate the evils of crack.

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