Blerd Film Club: Black girl


In 1969 J.E. Franklin wrote and produced a play title Black Girl that debuted in a small theater off Broadway. It was broadcast a few times on television in 1971. In 1972 Ossie Davis took the play and turned it into a film of the same name. While the elements of Blaxploitation are all present from the intense violence and loud emotion filled acting, they're drastically toned down for most of this film. Instead it chooses to focus on drama. Bringin g in Brock Peters from To Kill a Mockingbird, Leslie Uggams most recently in Deadpool 2, the legendary Ruby Dee and Claudia McNeil best known for the stage, film and musical versions of A Raisin in The Sun

We get introduced to Billie Jean as she tries to get time as a dancer at the local juke joint. She sneaks home and prays that she'll be able to buy a home for her mother one day. In the morning her sisters Norma Faye and Ruth Ann, who don't live in the home, inform their mother that Billie Jean stopped going to school and got a job. They do this because they're miserable, there's no way around it. Their mother Rosie berates Billie Jean and reminds her of the incomparable Netta. Netta is a local girl who's mother suffers from mental illness, and was taken in by Rosie as another child along with other young women around the neighborhood.

We meet the girls' father Earl, a man who runs a successful shoe store in Detroit. He attempts to be with Rosie back offering her all the material things she wanted. She says she doesn't need him because she's doing fine and Netta will take care of her. Earl leaves dejected although he continues trying to win her over throughout the film. When we finally meet Netta we learn that she had intended for Billie Jean to join her in college on a dance scholarship. From there, we watch people deal with the generational hatred they're carrying. Some people heal, some people don't want to and others are trying.

What's a generational curse? It's become the buzzword lately, but people just don't say what it is. In the Bible it's an actual curse passed down through generations. But in the modern world it's more of history repeating itself throughout the family because we never take the time to heal. Generational curses send us towards conflict or destinies that we're not even aware of because we don't understand the capacity of our ancestors actions.

Black Girl is a beautiful, if not depressing, depiction of generational curses. Mu'Dear admits that she didn't spend enough time with Rosie when she was a child because she was trying to keep up to the wealth standards of others, which is also why her relationship with Herbert didn't work out the first time. Since Rosie didn't have that love and guidance she became obsessed with the same material things and ruined her relationship with Earl. She also didn't embrace her daughters, claiming "that just ain't in me," not only about the love but apologizing. When Ruth Ann and Norma Faye dropped out of school to have children Rosie was disappointed, and still is, as neither holds down a job. Billie Jean, was her last hope but Billie Jean doesn't care about money, instead wanting to chase a dream. Rosie tries to crush that dream so Billie Jean can be on "the right path." Rosie sees Netta as a woman who wants all the same things, and she praises, almost worships, Netta. She constantly uses Netta as an example of what her daughters aren't giving her the love that they crave. So now we have three generations of women craving multiple generations of people craving love from their mothers. I say mothers, because the fathers have been pushed out. Herbert never wanted to leave Mu'Dear but she forced him out, the same way Rosie forced Earl out. Earl is constantly trying to be with Rosie and is pushed away despite getting the things she wants, a home, a nice car, beautiful suits and money. Even Ruth Ann and Norma Faye's children will fall victim to this curse because we watch as their mothers constantly reject them in favor of trying to crush Billie Jean's dreams.

Generational curses hurt Black people, pain them and as much as people claim everything else is ruining the Black community the answer is generational curses. We don't heal, we don't know how to heal. But, Black Girl gives us the cure, it gives us two cures. Mu'Dear made peace by admitting she was wrong, apologizing and trying to rectify the situation. However, everyone isn't big enough to admit they were wrong, especially not to their children. Rosie didn't find peace, at the end of the film she's still upset that two of her daughters turned out just like her and Billie Jean might be on the way. Billy Jean did find peace. She found peace, and broke the curse by realizing she's her own person. It doesn't matter what Rosie,  Ruth Ann, or Norma Faye want for her. She just has to do what's best for Billie Jean, even if nobody else thinks that's the best. She's knows she's not getting an apology, but she realizes her mom just doesn't know any better, but she forgives her anyway, for her own healing.

Everyone on Twitter, Facebook and Reddit can tell you what a generational curse is. They can tell you how to solve it. You need a therapist or a lot of prayer, but that's not true. You need you and only you. Even if it runs in the family, it's time for it to run out. At some point you're just going to have to give up on expecting family members that did you wrong, to do right by you. You just have to do right by you and only you to break the curse. Then it's up to you to create your own family without those burdens. 

Intense knife battle, emphasis placed on the music, violent slurs, fight against the white man. It's all there, this is pure Blaxploitation, but it's the purest form. The emotion overrides everything else because that's what drives everything else. It's not the perfect film, and things drag, but it's an emotional rollercoaster, one we should all ride to completion. Even decades later, we're all stuck at the peak, waiting for the ride to drop us and carry us to safety. 

You can check out some of my short stories at 12 AM Fiction or if you like vampires follow my web serial Exsanguinate and of course hear me on the Powerbomb Jutsu podcast if you enjoy pro wrestling.

Blerd Film Club: Black girl Blerd Film Club: Black girl Reviewed by Darrell S. on Wednesday, February 24, 2021 Rating: 5

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