I’m currently in the middle of yet another one of my mind-numbingly frustrating, and seemingly nonsensical debates with Samuel L. Jackson. Yes, THAT Samuel L. Jackson. Well, technically, it’s not really Sam Jackson. It’s his character Jules from Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction. And to be honest, it’s not even really Jules. He’s something else. (In more ways than one).
Supposedly he’s some kind of angel. Or devil. He’s conveniently very vague about the details. He once quipped that one man’s angel is another man’s devil. Which frankly, seems like a crock of shit if you ask me.
Some days he’s more devil than angel. I’d actually say most days he’s more devil than angel. He claims to be here to help me, but all he ever seems to do is be a pain in my ass. Like today.
Me: I find it hard to believe I’m the ONLY black man in America that likes that movie.
Sam: No. But I’m sure you’re the only straight one that would openly admit that shit and broadcast it for the whole goddamn world like a flashing neon sign.
You see what I’m talking about? This is the kind of shit I’ve been taking from him. And he just kinda shows up whenever it suits his fancy. It’s usually when he has an unsolicited opinion or two about whether something I’ve said or done is “black” enough. I don’t think he would see it that way. In fact, he would probably find that description an insultingly oversimplified characterization of his purpose; he would most likely exhort me to dig deeper and find some other hidden meaning behind his rote manifestations.
But how else am I supposed to interpret the fact that his Soul Glo drippin’ jheri curl ass is showing up now all because I mentioned that one of my cinematic guilty pleasures is the movie Pitch Perfect? I mean come on. Am I alone here? I know some of y’all be singing along during that Riff-off.
He’s got me so riled up, I’m volleying expletives back at him like there’s no tomorrow. Which is unlike me.
Me: What the hell is so wrong with Pitch Perfect?
Sam: It’s not that I have a problem so much with the fact THAT you like that movie. With some bruthas, there’s just no accounting for taste.
Me: What the fuck does taste have to do with it? It’s a FUN movie! Geeze-us Sam. Does every fucking movie I like have to be a fucking “Moonlight” to make you happy? Damn!
You see that? THREE f-bombs in one exchange with no guilt or shame. This ain’t good.
Sam: The problem I have, Ronald, is that you seem to be tragically bereft of the slightest idea as to WHY you like it.
Me: Um, maybe it’s just because it has a bunch of fun and catchy cover tunes, a funny script with witty dialogue, and a nearly pitch-perfect ending. No pun intended.
Sam: Of course that’s why you think you like it.
Me: Not every reason a person likes a movie has to be steeped in significance, Sam.
Sam: And it doesn’t bother you that in a movie about talented singers, singers who happen to be singing a whole bunch of songs made famous by black folk, they barely got any black people up in there?
Me: What are you talking about? They have black people in that movie.
Sam starts rubbing his temples like he’s got a headache. He tends to do that a lot around me.
Sam: Nigga! Did you just say what I think you said? You sound just like one of them Trump-supporting assholes you waste all your time on Facebook bitching about, who think just because that muthafucka took a picture with Muhammad Ali he’s not a racist. That fucking cast looks like it’s right out of White People Central Casting. But they made sure to have just enough tokens so that ignorant muthafuckas like you can say dumb shit like, “They got black people in it.” They got the fat girl. They got the cute quirky skinny Asian chick (whose voice is conveniently too soft to be heard. What’s THAT shit all about?) And they killed two intersectional birds with one stone by making the one sista gay. And not just gay, but like a straight-up “Orange is the New Black” kinda dyke.
Me: You have a problem with representing the LGBTQ community?
Sam: I don’t have a problem with that shit at all. I think it’s a beautiful thing. But I’m also not asleep as to what the fuckin’ deal is. Could it have hurt them to drop in two or three other sistas for the rest of us? Some of us are not as fond of mayonnaise as others, if you catch my drift.
I’m pretty sure that was a dig at me. Typical.
Sam: I have a list as long as my arm of fine sistas who can pass for college-aged a cappella singers they coulda got.
Me: OH. MY. GOSH. You are like a fucking walking caricature of an angry black man. Tell me something—do you make it a point to go into local Italian-owned pizza joints and complain about them not having any bruthas up on the wall?
Sam: I bet you’ve been sitting on that joke for a long time, haven’t you?
I can’t help but chuckle at his continued and uncanny ability to know me so well.
Me: Ha! I have actually. You like it? How was my delivery?
Sam: You better keep workin’ on that shit. Netflix ain’t gonna be calling your Dave Chapelle wannabe ass anytime soon. Regardless, you calling ME a caricature is like the mutherfuckin’ kettle calling the pot black.
I proudly resist the urge to correct the fact he reversed kettle and pot (I’m sure he was just baiting me anyway).
Me: I’ll just assume you’re NOT talking about ME being some kind of caricature of an “Oreo.”
Sam: Assume away.
Me: I’M a caricature?
Me: Me? You’re talking about ME?
Sam: Did I stutter?
And so it goes. Back and forth.
But look at my manners. My momma brought me up better than this. I’ve been a terrible host.
I have no doubt you’re confused and disoriented about all of this. Here you thought you were getting an intellectually stimulating, nuanced, and engaging exploration of race relations in America—but instead, right out the gate, you’re getting a vapid tête-à-tête between me and a cinematic cliché. Allow me to start over.
I think the best thing to do is to go back to the beginning. And as Dame Julie Andrews beautifully sang, “…it’s a very good place to start.”
Sam: Of course you would reference THAT movie.
Me: Are you eavesdropping on my conversations again? I told you that I don’t appreciate that shit.
Sam: And I told YOU this ain’t a conversation. It’s a book muthafucka!
Lord have mercy. Strap in. This could be a bumpy ride.
Table of Contents | Next chapter
“Dungeons ‘n’ Durags” is the true story of how a sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot of a president and the inanity of duped evangelicals led one of the “whitest” and nerdiest black men on the planet to wake up, find his blackness, and lose all inhibitions at dropping the f-bomb. It’s an emotionally moving, politically poignant, and often hysterically funny coming-of-age story. Except the age is 50.
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