Friday night, after much prodding from my friends on Twitter, I finally watched the movie Love Jones — hated it. *wrist flip*
**disclaimer***If Love Jones is like that man who does you dirty but nobody can tell you anything about him because you LOVE HIM, OK?! then this post is probably not going to be for you.
For years though, the good people of Negroland have been singing this film’s praises, dubbing it their all-time favorite movie, and even consider this film a classic, the epitome of a perfect romance. So imagine my blank stare when I finally sit down to watch it, expecting to see what love is, and discover that this is just a movie about two beautiful horny people who do a whoooooooooooole lotta vertical and horizontal dancing. Seriously, I will buy a cupcake and ship it to anyone who can tell me what these two people do besides have sex, talk about sex, eat omelets after having sex, argue about sexing other people, and go dancing as a prelude to sex.
Throughout the film I was questioning where is the love?! Sadly, the film never answered this question:
Exhibit A: We meet Darius and discover he is passionate about poetry and writing. We are told he’s good at it, but never really see the evidence — except for the audience erupting in cheers and oooohs and aaaahs when he recites his poem (about sex) like something real dope had just happened. (-_-) But that’s another story. So Darius’ first real play for Nina (we’re going to ignore the wack scene where he spilled her wine that was supposed to show how shaken up and nervous she makes him) is a poem he recites about having sex with her, though he just met her ten seconds prior. Though the screenwriter is clearly trying to make us believe that Darius had “love at first sight,” with Nina, it is clear that all Darius really had was a pants tent.
Thankfully — and this is one of MAYBE three good messages in this movie — Nina does not seem impressed by his vivid and public discussion of what sex with him would be like for her, and she walks away without giving up the digits or the drawers. This was a brief bright spot. On to:
Exhibit B: After Darius steals Nina’s address and phone number off of a check she wrote to a record store and randomly shows up at her apartment (note: THIS IS STALKING, PEOPLE, NOT ROMANCE!) she lets him in her apartment (OMG!!! WTDTA?!) and then is so impressed with his talk of George Bernard Shaw that she agrees to go on a date with him the next night. The date consists of going to a dinner party at his friends house, where the entire group conversations consisted of vulgar and open talk of sex and sexual organs. Then, Dr. Burke from Grey’s Anatomy proceeds to bang on a drum which inspires a dinner guest to bust out in an African dance. Admittedly, I was 12 years old in 1997, so I don’t know how they did it back then, but I went to a dinner party last night. None of us Negroes managed to bust out in African dance. And, surprise surprise, our entire conversations did not revolve around sex. In fact, I don’t think it was brought up at all. Imagine that? But I’m digressing. After sex talk, Darius (with an offensively bad Jamaican accent) asks Nina to go dancing at a Reggae spot where they can “feel a little bump ‘n’ grind.” That actually happened. They go dancing and then they go have sex after their first date. “Animal Magnetism,” sure. Love? Not even close.
Exhibit C: The next morning, Darius has not run away (victory!). Not only that, he wakes up before Nina and cooks her an omelet. Not hitting and running is not grounds for celebration. Neither is the fixing of breakfast. This is just a guy expressing happiness over having enjoyable sex — “great” sex, as Nina described it to her friend the next day. And yes, that was all she described to her friend the next day. She said “Don’t even get all geeked up ’cause this is nothing serious. This is no love thing; me and Darius are just kicking it.” Darius echoes the exact same thing to his friend the same day. Unfortunately, the masses who hail this movie as a great love story ignored these truthful statements.
Exhibit D: These people know extremely superficial things about each other and generally discuss their life and interests in the context of sex. As explained above, Darius shows his passion for writing by writing about sex. We know Nina is passionate about photography, but the only way it is really discussed by Nina and Darius is in the context of sex. “Take off your clothes, I want to take your picture,” strictly for her private collection. And then they have sex.
Darius thinks she is beautiful and says as much to her. He’s also admitted to his friend that he really likes having sex with her. But, what else? Why does he like her, let alone love her? He tells his friend that Nina is “the one,” and writes in his book dedication that she helped him get to the next level…but how? And when? And where was I when it happened?
Nina has also admitted to “having a really good time,” for a few weeks with Darius (to which he responds “we aim to please,” clearly speaking of himself and his penis, further proving that the “really good time” has been all about sex). What else does she like about him? She tells Darius that she “really cares about” him, but who knows why? As a sort of contrast, I suppose, the screenwriter introduces Nina’s ex-fiance’ who admits he is “no good with words,” so we can guess that because Darius is a poet and a writer (and therefore should be ‘good with words,'” that’s the difference between Darius and the ex-fiance’. But who knows. If you can’t vocalize what you love about the other person besides your sexy time, there’s an excellent chance you do not love that person.
Exhibit E: When Nina leaves Darius for her ex-fiance’, Darius immediately goes out and sleeps with someone else (for revenge? who knows.) Then Nina leaves the fiance’ for Darius but when Darius has moved on to some other girl, she starts dating his friend. They annoyingly break up and make up and break up again a few times, but in none of these situations do Nina or Darius ever put aside their own wants/needs/desires to help the other reach his/her highest good. In fact, I can only think of ONE time where Darius showed any sign that he loved Nina, and that is when he walked her to a cab to make sure she got home safely even though he was mad at her. Then, he proceeded to curse at her and disrespect her in other ways — like randomly kicking her out of his house after a minor, stupid fight. And she’s no better; She never did ANYTHING to show that she was willing to sacrifice herself for his best good, either. Yet, way too many people deem this a love story, which proves nothing except that WAY too many people have no concept of what love is. If you cannot put aside yourself/your feelings/ your wants/ your needs to seek the best good of another person, then you do not love that person. The example is Christ: As 1 John 3:16 explains Christ put aside His freedom in Heaven to confine Himself to a mortal body, He laid down His LIFE to seek OUR best good. That’s what love is. If your man or your woman isn’t doing that for you and you’re not doing that for your man or your woman, LOVE DON’T LIVE THERE ANYMORE, and probably never did.
But even if you’re not Christian / don’t hold Christ as the ultimate example of what love is, surely you must believe that love is deeper than sex. Without the slightest bit of irony, the character Wood voices the question I ask about this and every other so-called “classic” Black film: “Why does it have to be about sex all the time?!” But, to be fair, the screenwriter was absolutely NOT deceptive in his titling of this movie — it is unequivocally a movie about folks with a jones for lovin’. The only problem comes into play when my good people of Negronia idealize such a movie as the prototype for what love is or should be.
Alas, like the singer in the opening credits of this movie croons, “They say I’m hopeless, like a penny with a hole in it.” Though I don’t believe we are hopeless, I do believe if we keep equating sex and lust with love, we won’t make it nowhere as a people…
I live-Tweeted my first full viewing of Love Jones. It was painful. Read it here.