Let me begin by saying that if you haven’t seen Queen & Slim, stop playing yourself and go see it. Yes, I boldly declared that if you have not seen it, then you are playing yourself, and in the words of NeNe Leakes, “I said what I said!”
But seriously, go see it. Now I know I have a few white friends and colleagues who may feel like this is not for them. You’re wrong. Go see it. Hopefully this blog will reveal to you that there is something to learn from it. When my wife and I were in Dallas looking for a theater to go see it, it was not surprising that many of the theaters in the southern sector of Dallas (Oak Cliff, Desoto, Cedar Hill, Mansfield to name few) were basically sold out at each show or only the “break neck” seats were available (the seats closest to the screen that hurt your neck to look up and watch). Not surprising considering most of the black people live in the southern sector. Also not surprising is that many of the theaters in the in the northern sector (Plano, Richardson, Frisco to name a few) had seats galore.
Do better white people, do better! (I really could go deeper here but maybe another time.)
So what did my wife and I do… we got in where we fit in, and saw it in Desoto in a packed theater with our tribe.
The reality of which sectors of a city had available seating brings me to the first thing Queen & Slim taught me. (Once again, no spoilers here.)
[Some] Black and [Some] White People Will Receive This Movie Differently
I haven’t checked any other blogs or reviews to verify this thought but judging from the aforementioned availability at certain theaters versus others, its obvious this movie isn’t going to be a hit for some white (and black) folk. Some people may want to reduce this film to “just another sensationalized movie on race.” And if that’s what it seems like to you, that’s all you will see it as. Unfortunately for these “some”, they will miss out on a masterful cinematic display of… well, keep reading!
We ALL Need Somebody When Life Happens
The opening scene of Queen & Slim reveal a simple but well known truth: When life happens, in the many ways that life can happen, we all need somebody. The conversation the couple have over dinner teaches us that the complexities of life can kick us all in the ass every now and again, give us unexpected outcomes, and repossess our joy, and when it does, the best remedy and comfort of said ass-kicking comes in the form of another warm-blooded human! We often have no clue how a person is dealing with life’s bullshit, and the best thing we can do is be gracious, even while dealing with our own mess.
The Photos Of Our Lives Can Tell Many Stories…And Sometimes Many Lies
Pictures permeate this movie in profound ways. And each photo is designed to tell a few truths and many lies. We judge character by some photos: a family picture in the office or on the dash of our cars can lead us to believe a person is wholesome and trustworthy while our social media profile pictures tell another story. The images others see can shape a narrative in ways that mislead and blind others to the truth, and we are shaped by these photos and images daily. Queen & Slim challenge us to look deeply into the images and photos we see, who is sharing them, and how we feel about them in determining how we deal with others.
FEAR PULLS TRIGGERS…and people DIE!
The moment you clicked on this blog post is here. Not in the way many of you think, and truthfully not in the way I would like to share. However, this lesson is one of the main takeaways from the film. When fear has its fingers on triggers, people die. And before your mind races to picture the guns, not all triggers are attached to weapons. When someone impedes on another’s freedom to exist because of power trips, fear can pull a trigger of emotions and actions that create an explosion. When we choose to disregard the human need for love and affirmation, triggers are pulled and there are casualties. Triggers are pulled when injustice become the law of the land. Triggers are pulled when laws are broken. When we look at the adversary society picks for us in the eyes, fear envelops us because for a brief moment we realize they aren’t really our adversary but it is often too late and… we. pull. triggers. And people die.
If You Must Take A Wild Ride, Enjoy The Hell Out of It
If you are gonna get on the roller coaster, you might as well scream with the rest of the riders. FLAT OUT! Queen & Slim taught me to seize every moment. Laugh as much as possible, dance as often as you can, kiss as passionately as you’ve ever kissed, and when a front seat gives you the go-ahead, call shotgun and ride like you’ve never rode before (if you’ve seen the movie you get this)! We often take life too seriously and miss out on greatness. Yes, the situation was a bit different for them (okay, drastically different) but hey, enjoy the ride while you can.
I cannot stress this enough: GO SEE THE MOVIE! I have so much I would love to share but I truly don’t want to spoil it… not yet. This is a classic movie that we really need to sit with as a culture. To wrestle with it, to dissect it, and to defend it. This isn’t a new “Bonnie and Clyde.” Don’t let people hijack this film in that way. This is a masterpiece that deserves its due credit and time to blossom into the beautiful work it is intended to be. This film is love in the midst of chaos, joy in the face of danger, survival and legacy, pain and triumph, and the truths about US (Black Folk in America) in all of our struggles and excellence. This is our story.