If you want to read a review that tells you Loqueesha is one of the most racist comedies in the history of cinema, then read other reviews written about the film. It’s all the same review over and over again. I’m going to dare to be a little more honest. Loqueesha has to be one of the most misguided, yet earnest comedies I’ve ever seen.
Let’s, for a moment, remove the gimmick, emotions, and centuries of history. What we’re left with is a story of a guy who needs to earn some extra money for his son by pretending to be someone other than himself. It is certainly a plus that the job is something he loves and is good at—helping others. For what the guy does, he does it with an incredible amount of morals and integrity. If you listen to the actual advice he gives, it’s reliable and makes sense. This guy loves his listeners, and earnestly wants to help. The underlying story is actually pretty good and could have made for an above-average comedy. But, we all know what they say about good intentions.
So, let’s talk about the gimmick, emotions, and centuries of history. As a person of color myself, I choose not to flippantly throw the term “racist” around when it doesn’t apply, and it doesn’t apply here. To me, “racist” is someone who HATES another person solely because of their skin color, nationality, etc. I choose to reserve that word for people who actually hate me and my brothers and sister for our race. I don’t believe writer/director/star Jeremy Saville, nor the final film, is racist.
“I don’t believe writer/director/star Jeremy Saville, nor the final film, is racist.”
With that being said, I do believe that Saville was misguided from the very beginning. Sure, hindsight is 20/20, but someone had to have some kind of clarity about the minefield Loqueesha finds itself in just from the premise. Clearly, steps were taken in the script to help mitigate the problem. For one, there is the casting of a significant number of black actors and actresses as sort of a stamp of approval of the film’s subject. Also, on several occasions, many of the explosive issues are addressed head-on, particularly cultural appropriation, in an argument with Rachel. Maybe we could say Loqueesha is the black Tootsie, but even today, the general plot of Tootsie is coming under fire.
Personally, I am not a fan of how society and politics have weaponized identity politics as a way to dismiss people and ideas without earnest debate so quickly. That said, I can’t conceivably think of a way Loqueesha could have been saved. The criticisms I’ve heard against Loqueesha of “cultural appropriation” and never addressing “leveling the playing field,” honestly have legitimate merit. There are just areas a straight, white male has no business entering, particularly as a black woman. Can the reverse happen? Yes, see Sorry to Bother You.
No matter how much empathy that said white man has (which I believe Saville has in abundance), it’s still not enough to justify the making of this film. The sad part is that the underlying heartfelt message is now lost in its politics. There’s just no way of defending Loqueesha, and, despite the sincere attempts of Saville, the biggest reason to see the film is if you’re a fan of car wrecks.
"…the criticisms I've heard against Loqueesha...honestly have legitimate merit."