Noah's Arc: Why I Want to Hate it, But Can't!!!

When I heard that there would be a Black gay series on the first all-LGBT cable network, LOGO, I was highly skeptical. Who wouldn’t be? Hollywood (including gay cinema) has such a bad track record presenting Black people period, let alone Black gay men. Not only that, even if it was created, written, and directed by a Black gay filmmaker, what were the chances that it wouldn’t still not reflect what I think is an accurate view of Black gay life?

Well I watched the series Noah’s Arc, and though I sometimes cringed, I still like it. I saw the new movie “Jumping the Broom” which brings back the characters where they left off in Season 2, and though I also think it was far from perfect, I still, liked it.

The film, as the title suggests, picks up with the impending nuptials of Noah and Wade. They, along with their closest friends prepare for a weekend wedding on Martha’s Vineyard. And the DRAMA unfolds. I won’t give the film away, but it is much like the series in what it gets wrong, and what it gets right.

The Wrongs:

  1. It tries to take on too much, too many issues, too many subplots and twists. The script is over-written, but not broad enough to be a farce. Much like Tyler Perry, it’s hard to know what genre we’re playing in.
  2. Though improved over the series, some of the acting is not all that great. I “buy” the characters as they are, but sometimes they don’t convince me of the moment itself, which can be a weakness in the acting, the writing, the directing, or all three!
  3. It relies way too heavy on the upwardly-mobile, bourgie aspirational lifestyles that seem unrealistic. Much like Sex in The City, you wonder where they get the money for the lifestyle they seem to be able to afford. But unlike Sex in the City, some of it actually detracts from the story, rather than enhancing it. When I saw the film in NYC, the audience seemed more horrified than wowed by some of Noah’s outfits-me included. The costume designer did not give us Carrie Bradshaw, but someone doing a bad job of trying to copy it.
  4. You all know how I feel about the marriage issue. And this film is about a marriage. Need I say more?
  5. They clearly don’t know any lesbians or transwomen. I guess I do know some Black gays who don’t know (or like) queer women or trannies, but I don’t take these characters to be those kind of gays. I think it’s fine to not try to do everything in a script but I think (maybe I am being too generous) we tend to live a little more across gender lines than that.

The Rights:

  1. The relationships between the friends is the main reason we forgive Noah’s Arc for where it comes up short. I know alot of people who feel like the show is so unrealisitc and doesn’t represent the Black gay community, and it doesn’t entirely. But I think it does, generally speaking, represent the way many of Black gay men are differently gendered. There are some who feel like the characters are too femme, but I think there’s actually a range of genders represented.
  2. Though it tries to take on too much, it does at least try to take on some issues that we deal with from HIV/AIDS–sero-discordance and if it’s ever OK to stop using condoms in a committed relationship, ambivalence to marriage, raising kids, aging, butch/femme and top/bottom issues, being out to the family, etc. It’s refreshing to see the new young character in the film (played by the boy who was once once of Sandra and Elvin’s twin babies Winnie & Nelson on The Cosby Show), trying to figure some of this stuff out, but also has as much agency as the older characters.
  3. I think one of the things we severely lack in the Black gay community is examples of other Black queers negotiating dating, sex and relationships, and i think this film and the show does a good job of providing some models of how Black gay men love each other, whether in the friendships of the four main characters, or in the romantic and sexual relationships they have (or desire) with other men.
  4. It’s a good time! Though it gets ridiculous, hokey and melodramatic, much of the films is laugh out loud funny–especially the character Alex, and the Hollywood scenester and fag-hag Brandy. I was never bored, nor did I find it so problematic as to be irredeemable. It’s a good time at the movies, and sometimes it doesn’t need to be deep.

At the end of the day, no one show/film will ever be everything to everyone. And as much as I want so much more from it, I think the Noah’s Arc film Jumpin the Broom is worth seeing, for what it does give us. If you live in NYC, LA, DC, Atlanta or Chicago, where the film is screening (and did quite well opening weekend), you also get to be in a theater full of Black queers, which like, NEVER happens. It’s fun to just be in a movie theatre with nothing but the Kids and their best girlfriends. Black gay cultural critic Ernest Hardy didn’t dig it so much, but I think his Village Voice review is totally fair.

5 thoughts on “Noah's Arc: Why I Want to Hate it, But Can't!!!

  1. Noah’s Arc: Jumping the Broom is a comedy (or, perhaps, a dramedy). My Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary, 11th edition, says that a comedy is a “drama with a happy ending”. It also defines a dramedy as a “comedy having dramatic moments”. Based on these definitions, a comedy (or dramedy) is SUPPOSED to have a happy ending. One is expected to “suspend disbelief” when watching a comedy (0r dramedy). It is not supposed to be “realistic”. What do you consider realistic? A poor black gay man going thru ghetto changes.

    I read somewhere that the film was 101 minutes long: that’s one hour and 41 minutes. I expected there to be boring stretches and there weren’t any. I also read somewhere that it was a 15 day shoot so I expected to be disappointed (the movie LOOKS pretty good) and I wasn’t.

    You wrote, “it relies way too heavy on the upwardly-mobile, bourgie aspirational lifestyles that seem unrealistic. ” We black gay men don’t all live in the slums. I am, for example, a black gay man and a homeowner (my home is paid for) and I bought my 2006 vehicle brand new. More to the point, there are black families who have lived on Martha’ s Vineyard for GENERATIONS. I’m sure that some of those black families have black gay sons. You should get around more. You wrote ” they clearly don’t know any lesbians or transwomen.” Neither do I. Not by design, I just don’t know any. You also wrote “… it doesn’t need to be deep.” Is there such a thing as a “deep” comedy/dramedy? If so, name one (or two).

    Finally, you wrote, “it’s a good time … much of the film is laugh out loud funny… I was never bored …”. I agree with this and, honestly, what else does any reasonable person EXPECT from a COMEDY?

    And the Ernest Hardy review in the Village Voice sucks. On what basis was his review “totally fair”? What movie did he see?

  2. Thanks for your dictionary definition, but I was a theatre major in undergrad, and a professional actor before I left of my own accord to do writing and community organizing, so I am well briefed on the difference between comedy and drama, or dramedy, for that matter. I hope you found it useful to look up however. http://theater2.nytimes.com/mem/theater/treview.html?res=9B06E7D91E39F930A35750C0A9669C8B63

    It seems that the place of tension for you in my write-up about the film is where I am critiquing the class politics of the film. You used the words “ghetto” and “slums.” I didn’t. But yes, not all of us are either poor or filthy rich, though we know the reality that being black means you’re a hell of a lot less likely to be wealthy. I am happy your house is paid for. There are a lot of people, gay, queer straight or what have you, who aren’t so lucky, given the current crisis. I am also well aware of the fact that Black people have historically owned property on Martha’s Vinyard. I didn’t really take issue with that, necessarily.

    But since you’re so well-off and smarter than me, have you seen these latest data about Black gay couples who are married in California? They still make far less than white same sex couples. Before you get on your moral high horse about how well off most of us are, and how dare I raise questions about class politics in this movie, take a look at this data. http://www.365gay.com/news/study-black-gay-couples-fall-behind-earnings-of-straight-couples/

  3. I read the article comparing the incomes of black gay couples to straight black couples in Cali.

    The movie “Noah’s Arc: Jumping the Broom”, however, is not a documentary. It’s a comedy/dramedy. That means disbelief is suspended and the black gay characters can have a happy ending in pleasant surroundings.

    You wrote, “it’s a good time … much of the film is laugh out loud funny… I was never bored …”. Why does this comedy/dramedy (or ANY comedy/dramedy) have to be more than that? A comedy that is a “good time”, “laugh out loud funny” and “never [boring]” is a success. Period.

    By the way, I read the review of the play you starred in. You must be a gifted actor. I wish I had seen the play. I love James Baldwin. If that’s you at the top, you are an attractive young man.

  4. @elg, whoever you are:

    You may not realize this, but Kenyon is being a gracious host.

    What I don’t understand about ‘support’ of this film is this: if it reflects your lifestyle and world view so adequately, how are you promoting this film besides coming to someone else’s blog and attempting to diminish its author’s opinion by insinuating your own? Starting one’s own blog (and with 5 paragraphs of content, to boot) costs considerably less than purchasing a home.

  5. Haven’t seen the movie yet, but the series did kinda grow on me… Whenever I heard folks give those real serious and, IMO, over-analytical (and often negative) reviews of the show I just chalked it up to folks wanting the first blk gay TV series to be what THEY wanted it to be — which was usually all-encompassing. And patently unrealistic… I took the show for what it was, and enjoyed it while it lasted… I did the same with “The DL Chronicles” also.

    On another note, I noticed one of the negative review points Kenyon mentioned was the marriage thang… I’ve never gotten with his whole critique thing of gay-marriage. Why should it matter who is behind the push for the legal establishment of a legitimate civil right? I mean, it’s either a good thing or it ain’t.

    And in no way could I ever be persuaded that being able to legally marry the man that I fall in love with is a bad thing, or is somehow contrary to the interest of Black folk, regardless of other more pressing Black social needs… What, we never heard of multi-taskin’?

    Love my lil’ brothers beautiful mind but I gotta disagree on that one.

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