On Tuesday night, I had the opportunity to attend the star-studded premier of Our Family Wedding, the latest movie to milk the wedding film genre for all it’s worth. I’d tell you about it, but this the Internet. We have trailers for that.
Okay, got it? Good.
The movie was cool; a perfect date flick if ever one existed. But I wasn’t watching the film to score some points with some lucky lady. I actually was going for an education of sorts. That’s right, even at a romantic comedy directed by the same man who directed the cult-classic Brown Sugar (Rick Famuyiwa), I still wore my 2004, “I went to an HBCU and I can overanalyze anything with black people in it” hat.
But there was no education in the film, and honestly, I don’t put that on the director, nor do I put it on the cast. If anything, all the people in Our Family Wedding had great chemistry and looked like they actually enjoyed making it. The movie is a romantic-comedy, period. It is not meant to be a romantic comedy focusing on race and class in a post-racial America. No sub-text here. Just jokes.
The question is now, where do we go from here?
In Our Family Wedding, America Ferrera’s fictional Mexican-American family makes innuendos that they are none too pleased with their daughter marrying a black man (played by Lance Gross). It’s evident in the trailer I posted above that this is not going to be a movie solely about two young people rushing into marriage. It’s going to be about two families from two different worlds getting along like Rodney King once wanted us to. But in the romantic-comedy genre, only so much can be done through the guise of humor. Yes a lot of truth is said in jest, but how much of it is taken seriously?
As I’ve said before on this blog, this whole post-racial world we’re living in starts to fall apart as we go deeper and deeper into a person’s personal life. Just because folks from different cultures who don’t know each other can co-exist peacefully on a sidewalk or in a public place like the movie theater doesn’t mean they’re all open-minded about who they invite in their bedroom or into their families. Race and dating, sex, or marriage is a tricky thing, much trickier than race and work or school.
I know I have experienced how tricky it is first hand. As someone who comes from a family who has been mixing races, cultures, and bloodlines since my Puerto Rican grandfather and Japanese grandmother met back in pre-Civil Rights America, I know times haven’t changed much. Sure it may not be illegal anymore for people to marry or date outside their race, but it damn sure is still an issue in some places of America. As recently as 2003, when I attended Howard University (my father’s alma mater), I had a classmate ask me, “If your Dad went to Howard, why isn’t your Mom black?” And don’t even get me started on the underlying anger some people felt when they noticed how even in the mist of Tiger Woods’ adulterous behavior, he was still sticking to the white women; as though that was an actual issue!
Our Family Wedding didn’t teach me a lesson, as badly as I wanted it to. It just made me laugh, which is exactly what it was supposed to do. I just hope it does well at the box office because even I know if it doesn’t do well, all the suits at Fox Searchlight (the studio that made the film) are going to think no one wants to see a movie about inter-ethnic marriages and relationships — not even a funny one — and that couldn’t be further from the truth. —Jozen Cummings
Jozen Cummings is the Special Projects Editor of VIBE.com and hosts his own blog, Until I Get Married.