I remember doing a press roundtable in Philly to interview actor/comedian Marlon Wayans, for his then upcoming feature A Haunted House 2. When I entered the room, I interpreted the look on his face, and the subsequent hug, as one of not only surprise, but of a sincere “come on in the room, Sis” welcome as I’m certain not many women of color bloggers/critics made the rounds (or were even invited) at the film’s press tour. So in the male-dominated room, with only one other African American who was male, I powered through my questions without a care in the world about being the odd woman out.
Feeling like an outsider often describes my experience as a black female film blogger in Philadelphia--which is home to the founding chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists (the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists)--being in the middle of a black women film critic desert.
I don’t participate in discussions after press screenings, where mostly white male critics congregate to share their thoughts and mine routinely goes unsolicited – which suits me fine because I’m not there to determine which “summa cum laude” worthy words I’m willing to pull out of my post-graduate degree vocabulary to bolster my opinions and prove my worth as a critic.
I’m also not here for anyone who thinks African Americans operate as a monolith, and that there are things we collectively accept or reject – i.e. Spike Lee and Tyler Perry films. Truthfully, I hadn’t really enjoyed a Spike joint since Inside Man until Chi-raq – with the exception of Old Boy (which is technically not a Spike joint but a remake of Park Chan-wook’s 2003 film) and I really enjoyed Perry’s Why Did I Get Married and The Family That Preys, which in many media circles also leaves me as the odd woman out.
With an internet platform, I was able to create a space that highlights a potpourri of film and music, and share reviews with other fans who are looking for good entertainment and appreciate seeing themselves representated in various forms. And although I don’t limit discussions to “black” film, nor do I feel pressured to do so, I certainly won’t miss an opportunity to feature and celebrate it.
I was asked what I would like to see in the future of film criticism, in response to the recent Atlantic article, and my answer is this: I would like to see a mixture of voices--without expectation of what they should represent based on their skin color--highlighted in major media outlets. I would like to read all of the beautiful women of color I follow – like Candice Frederick, Candace Cordelia, and Kimberly C. Roberts to name a few – represented in the mainstream and on sites like Rotten Tomatoes where mostly white male voices are readily posted and accepted.
Women of color voices exist, are varied, and are necessary. We matter.
Thomasena Farrar is a Philadelphia Celebrity Examiner for examiner.com and runs the entertainment blog musicmoviesthoughts.com. Follow her @musicfilmdiva on both Instagram and Twitter.
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