blackface by Chorouk Akik May 14, 2019
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I have a press release from February 19th that does have it listed in your lineup so it seems it was selected at some point.
— Adam Patterson (@FilmPulseNet) May 12, 2019
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:
I hate when people tag me in their bullshit. It’s annoying as fuck.
— marlon wayans (@MarlonWayans) May 12, 2019
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,
Whether that horrific "Loqueesha" movie is real or fake, the only thing that's made me laugh about it is this piece of trivia on the film's IMDB page. pic.twitter.com/2sfHY00ttR
— Evan Birnholz (@evanbirnholz) May 11, 2019