When I went to see the new film “Flight,” featuring Denzel
Washington, I got almost exactly what I expected: An extraordinary
performance by one of the greatest actors of all time. Denzel commands
both screen and stage unlike any other, and it wasn’t until I saw him up
close on Broadway that I was able to see the power of his talent.
”Flight” was a great movie, and it deserves all the buzz that it’s been
But while I did get what I was hoping to see, I also saw some things I
didn’t expect: Denzel as a drunken, arrogant, irresponsible,
wife-beating, lying dope fiend, not exactly fitting of the well-crafted
public image Denzel has built over the last 20 years. Black women love
Denzel for all the intangibles that I could never put my finger on, but
their adoration for this man is something that the rest of us know to be
all too real (yes, I’m a bit jealous). Much of this affection started
when Denzel’s character took a fierce on-screen beating from his slave
master in the film, “Glory,” making him the magical figure that he has
It seems that others are taking Denzel’s latest role a bit more
seriously by calling for an all-out Boycott of the film. Citing a list
of reasons that the film is not worthy of a first or second look, they
say that people should simply stay home and see Denzel’s next creative
venture. I have no idea who generated the poster (below), but it’s
certainly creating a great deal of buzz on our Facebook page.
With that being said, this film was difficult for anyone to watch.
Sitting in the middle of the black female mecca of Atlanta, Denzel
“Dream Boat” Washington falls in love with the kind of “marginal” white
woman who fills the nightmares of every black woman who’s grown tired of
seeing themselves passed over for the blonde-head, blue-eyed woman who
never went to college. The film reminds black women of the trifling
brothers who consider black women as viable mates for the night, but
inadequate to become wives and mothers. I literally cringed when I
watched the film, because I could hear the reactions in the audience,
many of them black women, who grew to hate the man they were seeing on
screen. Oh yeah, black women are the most religious demographic in all
of America, and Denzel’s character refuses to even pray: Most of us
know at least one black woman who won’t date a man who doesn’t go to
church (at least not in public).
Sure, Denzel was just playing a character in a movie. Yes, it was
all make-believe. But here’s the deal: Much of the love that drives so
many black women to see every movie that Denzel Washington makes is
sustained by these make-believe images. The love they gained for
Denzel after seeing him in “Glory” and “Malcolm X” was also built from
the land of make-believe and the reality is that many fans don’t
differentiate between what actors do on-screen and who they are off of
it. It’s tough to create real admiration and real currency from
fictional images and then expect those affected to suddenly understand
that it was all fake from the very beginning.
I enjoyed the film and thought it was an outstanding performance.
But then again, I’ve never fawned over Denzel like my female friends.
But for those women who have real love for Denzel based on what he does
in Hollywood, this film could set him back just a bit.