Disclaimer: Spoilers, brethren. Y’all know how this goes.
So, as I promised at the end of my The Irishman post, I finally went to go see Queen & Slim. Real talk, while my wife and I were waiting for our son’s chess tournament to conclude, we dipped away to see the movie. Now, to be transparent, this post is going to be more random (and much longer) than usual, son. Frankly, I have so many sporadic thoughts that I couldn’t put it in a decent narrative, man. All in all, I loved the film and here are some of my takeaways:
- Angela “Queen” Johnson annoys the shit out of me at first. On the real, during the first date with Ernest “Slim” Hines, I think she’s unnecessarily rude. Shit, the way my patience is setup, if I were Slim, I would’ve ended that date early, fam. But, as the movie goes on, I realize that her behavior is based on her trauma. She’s guarded but learns that she doesn’t have to be combative and simultaneously isolated all the time.
- There are several quotes in the film that resonate with me for different reasons. During a scene after the shooting, while trying to hitchhike, Slim says that he hopes the inhabitants are Black. Queen highlights the fact that this isn’t always a good thing. This ends up being some crazy foreshadowing since a Black man is ultimately the one who sells them out for the $500,000 reward. The phrase “it be your own people” is real as fuck, bruh. Next, when they’re at Uncle Earl‘s house, Queen asks Slim is he’s okay and he says that he is. She asks him how that’s even possible and he says “I guess I’m so used to saying I’m okay even when I’m not.” Son, I feel like that’s the story of my life. Sadly, a lot of us operate like that waaay more than we should, man. It’s okay to not be okay, brethren. Lastly, there’s a scene where Slim asks Queen if she’s a good lawyer. She says that she’s an excellent lawyer and he responds “why do we always have to be excellent? Why can’t we just be ourselves?” Now, I ALWAYS strive for excellence, but I understand where that quote is coming from. Growing up, I was always told that Black people have to work twice as hard as White people to get half as much. So, we end up (unjustly) putting LARGE amounts of pressure on ourselves and our loved ones. We just need to be us and do the best that we can.
- I was thoroughly triggered by that initial police stop. Listen, in my 34 years of life, I’ve had NUMEROUS interactions with the cops. The truth is, the vast majority of them weren’t positive, bruh. Hell, just two years ago, I wrote about a tense exchange that I had with four officers who were determined to belittle me. In addition, I lived through Rudy Giuliani and the Michael Bloomberg stop-and-frisk era. Son, I’m a Black man with a college degree and a federal job and I STILL don’t trust the police, man. In my eyes, I’ve seen WAY too much unnecessary aggression to ever release that fear.
- I’ve seen some criticism about the film not being “realistic.” However, I think people are missing the point that it’s still a movie and a form of artistic expression. With that being said, I can agree that a Black cop probably wouldn’t just let Queen and Slim drive out of that garage. I can agree that the Black community might not necessarily look at the two of them as pure heroes. But, I do believe that the community would understand their plight. All I can say is, there’s a feeling of hopelessness when it comes to police violence. I mean, there’s NEVER any recourse for us. Our murderers are almost never held accountable for their crimes. In the film, Queen and Slim rightfully defend themselves and I believe that minorities would empathize with their actions/pain.
- I’ve also seen criticism about the ending of the film. On one hand, a few people are upset with the way that Queen and Slim die. But, how else did they expect this movie to end? If we’re talking about realistic, there’s NO way that the two of them wouldn’t end up dead or in jail. Regardless of circumstance, a cop killer would be hunted to the ends of the Earth, fam. To me, death was definitely the most likely outcome, bruh. Also, I’ve seen people lament that the film doesn’t give any “answers.” Son, what fucking answers were they expecting? Since when was art designed to answer social issues? Now, I’m not comparing this movie to Do the Right Thing, but there are no answers at the end of Spike Lee‘s film, man. If anything, all of these works are designed to make us feel and think, brethren. No more and no less. From there, it’s up to us to come up with definitive plans of action.
- The death of Junior fucked me up, son. Keeping it a buck, this is another scene that I heard complaints about. Like, even my wife was uneasy about this scene juxtaposed with Queen and Slim having sex. Now, I get it, man. I definitely do. It’s a hard 10 minutes to digest, fam. But, I internalized it all in a different way, bruh. The way I see it, Junior’s just a young man who doesn’t know how to process his feelings. He’s enamored by the story of Queen and Slim, but he doesn’t fully understand what it all means and the ramifications. He doesn’t yet understand the nuance of the minority experience in America, but he’s hell-bent on action. This leads to extremely irrational decision-making. The truth is, Queen and Slim don’t want to be heroes. They don’t want to be martyrs. More so than anything, the people around them are elevating their meaning and importance. While Junior is in love with the idea of “immortality,” Slim just wants to be remembered by his family and his lady. From my vantage point, Junior’s death highlights the fact that we need to explain to the youth what’s really going on out here, instead of just leaving them to filter the information on their own.
In the end, I know that I just said a lot, son. Ultimately, there was no easy way for me to write this post, man. By and by, I judge a movie’s quality by how much it stays with me. Truth is, my wife and I have been talking about this film all weekend, fam. So, shout-out to Melina Matsoukas (my Co-op City sister) and Lena Waithe for putting this together, bruh. Side bar, I still don’t like the way that Waithe handled the Jason Mitchell situation, but I give credit where credit is due, folks. Anyway, this movie gave me strong emotional reactions and I thank them for it. At the end of the day, everyone’s entitled to their opinion. All I can say is, I personally loved the movie, brethren. That is all. LC out.