Monday, February 1, 2010

Denzel Washington and the Last Taboo

If ever there were a black actor who could be said to have crossed over to appeal to all audiences, it would be Denzel Washington.

According to the Internet Movie Database, he's made more than 50 pictures, with half-dozen or so in development. He's one of Hollywood's most bankable stars. His co-stars have included such luminaries as Russell Crowe, Gene Hackman, Tom Hanks, and Julia Roberts.

In all his movies, though, I don't think I've ever seen one where Denzel Washington kissed a white woman.

In several pictures--Deja Vu, Out of Time, Training Day, Devil in a Blue Dress--Washington's had love interests, but they've always been women of ambiguous racial appearance, women like Paula Patton, Jennifer Beales, and Eva Mendes.

Worse, in the kinds of pictures (The Pelican Brief) where a white character would at some pivotal point bed his white female co-star, Washington's character just grins likeably and moves on.

It's enough to make you think of Bill "Bojangles" Robinson and Shirley Temple, the archetypes of the selfless, sexless black man and his white, female sidekick.

". . . there are at least three themes that are utterly taboo as far as most American publishers are concerned," Vladimir Nabokov once wrote, among them "a Negro-White marriage which is a complete and glorious success resulting in lots of children and grandchildren..."

Nabokov was talking about books, but he could as well have meant the movies.

Another Draft Finished. . .

I knew it'd been a while since I'd written here, but I didn't know it was this long. . .

It wasn't an oversight, however: It was deliberate. In September, I decided that, apart from letters, I wasn't going to write anything else while I worked on the revision of my novel. I finished last week, and took the manuscript to the post office this morning.

Last year ended with some good news. On Dec. 29,
my story, "A Few Good Men," which first appeared in Stress City: A Big Book of Fiction by 51 DC Guys, was published in Best African American Fiction 2010, from One World/Ballantine.

I haven't seen many reviews, but there was this mention in Library Journal. Here's hoping it's a harbinger of good things to come in 2010!