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Is the film ‘Loqueesha’ just racism masquerading as comedy?

The trailer for new film Loqueesha has been garnering negative attention. Jeremy Saville is the film’s director and protagonist, Joe.

Similar to Sorry to Bother You, the protagonist employs a “Black voice” for the sake of economic success. But that’s where the similarities stop. This film is all kinds of racist.

Unpacking the Premise

Joe, a sad white dad employs an auditory version of “blackface” in order to get a job. He applies as a Black female radio host to pay for his son’s prep school. Let’s unpack that.

Joe was originally rejected for the position because the job description encourages minorities and women to apply to the talk show. So Joe becomes Loqueesha, a black woman with a southern accent? First of all, the name ‘Loqueesha’ is intentionally coded to read as ghetto.

Loqueesha’s “tell it like it is” quality is basically saying that black women are not only privileged with job opportunities but also protected from politically incorrect criticism. The trailer shows us Joe as Loqueesha responding to a suicidal caller. Loqueesha/Joe tells her to “enjoy her jump.” The film presents this response as being accepted by listeners.

According to undeniable white boy logic, despite these insensitive actions, Loqueesha’s radio show becomes a hit. Joe is both proud that audiences applaud Loqueesha’s ‘advice’ and mad that no one listens to him as a white man.

This emphasizes the claim that white men are under attack and overlooked despite their supposed talents. This film basically lives out the misogynoir dream of proving that minorities, women and black women, in particular, are benefitting unfairly from society’s perceived rejection of white male authority.

The truth of the matter is that America does not actually love and accept the “sassy Black Woman.” Black women are labeled as loud and angry. Also, they don’t benefit from these stereotypes. And Black women continue to be disrespected on screen and threatened off screen no matter what their personalities are truly like.

Jeremy Saville’s Bigotry Runs Deep

The “minorities have it better now” trope is ongoing. Twitter tells us Loqueesha is this generation’s Soul Man. Soul Man was a film from the 80s where a rich white boy poses as African American on his application to Harvard.

He gets in and decides to keep up the charade and wear full blackface, including altering his speech to sound “black” or whatever his racist ass thinks that is. In a similar fashion, Loqueesha is an attempt to gain perceived privileges without consequence.

The poster for the film itself depicts a white man’s head coming out of a black woman’s head as the white man’s hands hold on to it. And in the trailer, Joe says he “feels like a black woman trapped in a white man’s body.” Way to hide your transphobia, Jeremy.

But this isn’t the first time Jeremy Saville has used disrespectful stereotypes for shallow humor.

In Saville’s short titled “GAY DATE: FUNNY MOVIE ABOUT ONLINE DATING,” Saville plays a closeted ‘flamboyant’ gay man who goes on a date with a straight woman. Saville peddles homophobic ideas like having gay parents will make children gay.

Or that pegging is a solely gay sexual activity. Throughout the short, Saville plays out all the stereotypes he can think of with no comedic intention besides making fun of the gay community.

The Defense

Jeremy Saville claims to be taking the criticism against his film and instead “dubbing” his racist mockery of a black woman’s voice with an actual black actress’ voice.

This compares Loqueesha to the film to Sorry to Bother You where the black characters summon their white telemarketing voices. White actors dubb the white voices. Sure, the fact that it wasn’t an actual black woman’s voice is what made “Loqueesha” racist.

The comparison to Sorry to Bother You does a grave injustice to Boots Riley’s masterful criticisms of racism, misogyny, and capitalism. The film explains early through Donald Glover’s character what the “white voice” expresses.

The white voice embodies carefree and financially secure connotations of white privilege. The film shows how using white privilege may result in some success but that the protagonists’ non-affluent white reality will never really be erased.

Saville has yet to find a Black actress to do the voice dubbing.

Shady Saville

Saville’s trailer also includes an endorsement from San Luis Obispo International Film Festival. SLO responded to criticisms of their connection to the film by distancing themselves. SLO claims that

“The SLO Film Fest laurels were taken without permission.”

Users side eyed SLO’s response. Some claimed they have press releases from the festival that include Loqueesha as a selected film.

According to IMDB, SLO originally selected the film but later pulled it from the list.

Jeremy Saville tried to shield himself from criticism on Twitter by comparing Loqueesha to White Chicks (2004).

He posted a photo of himself with Marlon Wayans on Twitter. The photo is from 10 years ago. Saville was at a red carpet for G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (2009) where he met Wayans briefly.

Wayans responded with the following tweet:

Racism Masquerading as Comedy

Comparing Loqueesha to White Chicks and Sorry to Bother You is willful ignorance to the connotations of blackface.

While White Chicks and Sorry to Bother You might seem like the equivalent to Loqueesha based on the premise, context is everything. The context of White Chicks and Sorry to Bother You is a society that has long despised non-white communities and continues to mock them in ways that render those community members less than human.

A white ruling class that creates caricatures of other races is dehumanizing people. We know this to be true. Birth of a Nation was not a funny take on how races differ. It was propaganda that justified slavery and Jim Crow.

Replacing representations of minorities in media with caricatures continues the saturation of media with dehumanizing depictions. It says a lot that films that mock women of color continue to get funding, while films by and for women of color do not.

These caricatures are what inform a larger white audience of what the “other” truly is. In this case, it makes white audiences believe “the other” is a joke and not a human being.

We know from that not so distant history that the best way to justify a people’s death and destruction is by claiming they weren’t human in the first place.

IMDB Trivia said it best,

PSA: Do not wear Blackface for Halloween… unless you wants these hands

Halloween is turning into an excuse for people to take part in a very racist activity – blackface.

That shouldn’t be the case. Get a grip. That is for those of you who think it’s ok to stroll around and paint your face to dress up as another race.

Blackness is not a costume. It includes a struggle that no other person can relate to unless of course, you have a dark complexion.

If you’re not of a darker tint or of any tint, I want you to imagine what it feels like to live in fear of someone judging you because of the color of your skin. This includes people running judgment about your monetary status, social status, educational knowledge, and an assumption that you’re a criminal.

Imagine every time you hear a siren you get shook, not because you did something but because of your innocence. This shit is real. Shit, if you want to be Black for Halloween so bad, I’m finna be a white cop so I can beat that ass.

The only person that can get away with painting his face another race is Dave Chappelle.

Why is it so offensive to us? It dates back to the early 1800s. Actors used to take shoe polish and apply it to their faces in order to portray African-Americans.

These “characters” that ended up going mainstream were kind of the only way people could relate to black culture, back then. It was a way to control how African Americans were portrayed in the media without giving them proper representation.

We were seen as not good enough to play our own skin color. That’s fucked. So please think about your costume thoroughly before you step outside tonight. If you have to wonder if it’s going to offend someone you probably shouldn’t wear it.

Like these idiots poking fun at Colin Kaepernick’s protest of the struggle

And this fuckboy, I hope he caught the hands

This cop is buggin’

Or this Staples employee who thought it was a good idea to paint her face black for her Sharpie costume. Nope, FOH, Wrong!

Sheesh! It’s a very simple process to apply that black paint to your face and it’s also a very simple process not to.

Think about the feelings of someone else and how uncomfortable it would feel standing next to someone wearing some costume like the ones above.

There is a very simple way to portray a Black role model even if you are white. Wear an iconic outfit that your role model is known for. Let the costume speak for itself. You know you dropped $100 on it anyway.

Why drop more money on black face paint or shoe polish? Just embrace the costume and act like the person that would wear the costume.

Although mad people hated on Kim K for paying homage to Aaliyah for Halloween, she didn’t paint her face black.

Do not follow in the footsteps of those who have dressed up as the Jamaican bobsled team,  Uzo Aduba, or Trayvon Martin. Those people have poor taste anyhow.

If you really need a guide on what not to wear as a Halloween costume please peep The Daily Show‘s video guide below.

Want to learn more about the history of blackface in media?

Click here and check out what Jay-Z created to show you.