Birth of a Soul Sister Case File #127/My Year of Flops II #24 Loqueesha
When an obscure filmmaker with a low-budget film begins attracting massive attention, it’s almost invariably a positive development for the filmmaker and the movie. When sleepers explode onto the national consciousness their heartwarming narratives usually take the form of cinematic Cinderella stories. You know the kind: a big-hearted dreamer invests their life savings in a labor of love that’s bought for millions at Sundance or a wunderkind comes out of nowhere with a film that promises to captivate the masses and make them an instant cultural force.
That was decidedly not the case with Loqueesha, a comedy-drama about a down on his luck white bartender played by comedian Jeremy Savile, who also wrote and directed, who becomes a national sensation pretending to be a crude caricature of a sassy, insult and bon mot-dispensing black woman on the radio in order to pay for private school for his gifted son.
Loqueesha writer-director-star Jeremy Saville came out of nowhere with a trailer so appalling, so offensive, so utterly preposterous that it instantly became a viral sensation. The entire internet took turns dunking on Loqueesha and its creator/star.
People had a hard time believing that Loqueesha was a real movie, and not some manner of post-modern prank from Tim and Eric or Lonely Island. Could a movie with such a preposterously offensive, anachronistic premise really be made and distributed in 2019?
Loqueesha’s unfortunate but undeniable existence engenders intense cognitive dissonance. Could Loqueesha really be as bad and as ignorant it looked? Amazingly, Loqueesha is actually worse, more problematic and less “woke” than its trailer might lead you to believe. That’s crazy considering that Saville’s insult to humanity looks about as racist as Birth of a Nation and about as “woke” as a Klan rally in Alabama.
Going into Loqueesha I naively assumed that it would at least attempt to undercut the crazed narcissism and racism of its premise by humbling its arrogant protagonist for cynically coopting a cartoonish caricature of black femininity for his own mercenary ends. Instead Loqueesha points an angry, accusatory finger at an audience that might be inclined to judge its hero by focussing on his race and gender and also the fact that he’s living a racist lie, when, actually, when you give advice as brilliant, essential and life and society-transforming as Joe does in the guise of Loqueesha, a figure the movie angrily insists combines the wisdom of Maya Angelou with the righteous, cathartic, liberating comic anger of Richard Pryor and the outsized theatricality of Tyler Perry, it doesn’t matter what your race or gender is, and to suggest otherwise is, in the movie’s estimation at least, pretty racist.
Loqueesha asks who the real racist is, critics harping on Loqueesha bringing back minstrelsy and engaging in audio blackface or a movie progressive enough to posit that your gender and color don’t matter if you’re a wise, invariably correct prophet of common sense wisdom like Joe/Loqueesha? Who is ultimately moving us forward as a people, grim spoilsports who notice and object to egregious racism and sexism or people like Joe, who pretend racism and race don’t exist and don’t matter, in part because doing so allows them to inhabit the personality and skin of another race and gender without experiencing any guilt?
Loqueesha kicks off with Joe in his natural habitat, a sad bar for alcoholics where he slings drinks and offers advice for barflies that regard him as something between a free shrink and a modern-day prophet. “Joe, I’ve been coming’ to this bar for 10 years now and it never ceases to amaze me that you always seem to say the right thing to just the right person” insists a characteristically impressed patron, establishing a template where no scene is complete without two or three people, preferably black, praising either Joe or Loqueesha for being brilliant, and having incredible advice, or being, in a typical bit of hyperbole, the “Freud of the airwaves.”
If you were to play a drinking game where you took a shot any time anyone paid Joe or Loqueesha a wildly over-the-top, unmerited compliment you would be dead within the first half hour. And Loqueesha ain’t about to bury your sorry-ass, Happy Meal-ass corpse, not when she could be watching her stories! Loqueesha don’t play that!
Is it any wonder Oprah herself later offers Loqueesha her own show on OWN? Black people LOVE Joe/Loqueesha because they are human beings, and one thing that all human beings share in Loqueesha is a deep conviction that Loqueesha is a philosopher, prophet and minor deity.
Rachel (Tiara Parker), a gorgeous black woman many leagues out of Joe’s league strides angrily into the suspiciously empty bar where he works one day, or night, or afternoon (who can tell?) and angrily demands “Something strong.” When our lowly barkeep gives her something called Bottled Rage she spits back, “What are you trying to do, kill me?”
In a voice ringing loud and proud with unearned judgment, Joe quips, “No, but from the looks of it, I might be doing you a favor it if I was.” Joe isn’t being presumptuous. He’s merely telling this stranger that her life might be so terrible and doomed that it would be better for everyone if she was dead.
When Rachel says that men are all the same and will do whatever it takes to get what they want (sex), Joe comes at her fast and furious with some serious NOT ALL MEN heat, rattling off the names of some “shitty” dudes like “Dalai Lama, St. Francis of Assisi, Gandhi.”
“Who even knows about Gandhi? He probably lied to his wife too!” Rachel protests, which prompts Saville to break into an imitation of a cheating Gandhi running around on his wife in a thick Indian accent as uncannily exact as it is culturally sensitive and historically accurate. Nah, I’m just kidding. It’s fucking terrible. Offensive as fuck. In Saville’s mind, every Indian person is clearly Apu.
When Rachel complains that her no-good dog of a man has been running around on her and lying, our “hero” informs her, with barely suppressed rage, “First of all, you’re a fucking idiot.” Then he really lays into her, shouting angrily, “I think you want me to sign off on this victim act and find it charming and tell you that you’ve been wrong, and then you want me to indict half a species based on the actions of a couple of un-evolved and unaccountable members of said species. Okay, a whole lot of un-evolved and unaccountable members but that doesn’t get you off the hook. You want your guy to tame the truth-less tongue, stop indulging him! If you’re going to play enabler, you’re just as guilty as he is. Actually, you’re worse because you’re lying to yourself. So, who’s got the problem?”
That might seem less like great advice than misogynistic abuse from a dude who clearly has a LOT of issues with women. But Saville lets us know that, actually, his character is right (his character is ALWAYS right, regardless of context) by having one of his drunken admirers/patrons admiringly crow of Joe’s devastating, Ben Shapiro or Jordan Peterson-like mastery of explosively truthful rhetoric, “Game, set and match!”
Bear in mind that the man who will become Loqueesha’s bar is a depressing, dimly lit pit of sadness where sickly-looking alcoholics marinate in their own pickled failure. The future Loqueesha’s workplace seems like the kind of pitch-black hellhole where they keep the curtains closed all the time to keep drunken barflies from realizing that they have alternatives beyond drinking themselves to death in near total-blackness. Joe’s wisdom doesn’t seem to have done him any good, or any of his patrons any good, or improved his boss’ life for that matter, but once Joe starts gabbing as Loqueesha his wisdom betters the lives of everyone lucky enough to have access to it.
Lest we trust our instincts about Joe’s advice being terrible and offensive and hateful as well, the beneficiary of this man’s white rage, I mean homespun wisdom, offers to pay him for his advice because it is so “amazing.” Rachel isn’t just improbably grateful for the bartender’s condescending lecture: she’s turned on as well, and feels moved by a seemingly messianic purpose to elevate Joe to a place of distinction within our culture where his brilliance can help the most people, to make the world see him in the heroic light that she does.
Ah, but Loqueesha has to spike the football that is Joe’s “rightness” one last time by having a rummy enthuse, “Boy, for a guy who’s just talking to himself, you sure do make a lot of sense for the rest of us!”
Next stop is Joe’s ex-wife, a sexist nightmare of an emasculating ball-buster who informs her ex-hubby that their son is gifted. That’s the good news. How could he not be? His father is a cross between Jesus, Ann Landers, Freud and Madea with a little of C. Thomas Howell’s Soul Man for flavor, or rather “flava.” The bad news is that this gifted school, which is apparently the only one in the city, or even state, or possibly even in existence, is going to cost 13,000 dollars a semester, and being a man, he must give her the money for it NOW.
When a sputtering Joe asks if there are scholarships available this evil women informs him they’re all taken before hissing, “I won’t have my son missing out on an opportunity for an excellent life because his father is either too weak, dumb or lazy to provide for his needs.”
Don’t worry about the kid taking up too much screen time: he’s a plot point rather than a human being so he’s onscreen maybe five minutes, at least one of which is devoted to him telling his dad that he really likes all the money he’s been making since he got a high-paying new mystery job. This calls back to a scene in The Test, Saville’s debut and a previous My World of Flops Case File where Saville’s fiancé similarly specifies that she really enjoys spending the money Saville’s character is making, and money in general, and owning things purchased with his money. Movies with more respect for their audience’s intelligence assume that they intuitively understand that money is a powerful motivator in a capitalist society and that nearly everyone would like to have more rather than less. But Saville underlines and then highlights that the scuzzy monster he plays is making a whole lot of money and that the other characters like spending his money, and money in general.
Back at the bar, Rachel, the now empowered and confident woman who sought and took Joe’s advice is giving him flowers and what appears to be a fortune cookie fortune with the words “WANTED: Radio Talk Show Hosts. Minorities and women encouraged to apply. Contact WRCW Bob or Ken at WCRW at (555) 422-2233.” on it.
When Joe, in his Christ-like modesty, demurs that he doesn’t talk to people for money, his worshipful acolyte Rachel tells him to “Share your gift with the world.” When he continues to hem and haw she gushes, “The way that you were with me led to transformation and that’s a rare ability.”
From the way Rachel talks, you’d think his gift was bringing the dead back to life, not delivering cliched, sexist advice from a place of smug, shrill, strident, unearned faux-superiority.
This gorgeous, successful woman doesn’t just want to help Joe get a job. She wants him to start a cult and take her as one of 73 brides.
Ah, but Joe has other worries. Actually, he only has one other thing to worry about: his evil ex-wife insistence that he magically make 13,000 to 26,000 dollars appear out of thin air so that his ex-wife won’t consider him a pathetic failure as a man and provider. What’s more important than proving your manhood to an ex-wife who hates you through the only measure that matters: making a lot of money and being famous?
We live in a crazy world where both men and women, fathers and mothers, are expected to work and contribute to the expenses of childcare. But in Loqueesha, it falls entirely upon Joe to pay for everything. And it’s not enough for him to try to make a small fortune quickly without resorting to crime. As his ex-wife snarls at him, “You need to stop trying (to raise private school tuition) and do it.”
Back at his apartment, Rachel leads Joe through a mock radio show taping, during which Joe, speaking of his future radio star self in the third person, complains that if he’s forced to water down his profound truths for public consumption in a capitalist marketplace then the “hard fought wisdom he’s accrued by rigorous self-examination and ruthless accountability gets displaced with a self-conscious tick as he strives to satisfy a fickle public opinion.”
This would probably be a good place to point out that Loqueesha takes itself incredibly seriously, and is almost as dramatic as it comic, or rather “dramatic” and “comedic” since nothing in the film is actually the least bit funny nor remotely dramatically engaging beyond its trainwreck fascination as a deranged vanity project whose combination of crazed narcissism and surreal lack of self-awareness recalls the cultishly, ironically adored films of other trash auteurs like Neil Breen and Tommy Wiseau.
In case that was not pretentious or pompous enough, Joe then explains, “I’m just focused on being a conduit for truth.”
This man who prides himself on “rigorous self-examination and ruthless accountability” somehow never examines himself rigorously enough to feel guilt for his transgressions, and despite his “ruthless accountability” he lets himself completely off the hook for his lies, racism and misogyny, as does the film.
Hey, Loqueesha is just a “theatrical device”, a “funny voice.” Good, innocent fun. No need to get out the pitchforks, snowflakes.
Rachel doesn’t just gaze lustfully at the bitter and charisma-free white man she’s obsessed with making the white Oprah: she tells him he’s “extraordinary, wise, gentle and kind.”
Also, she wants to fuck him.
I guess this strong, beautiful, powerful black woman must have REALLY enjoyed Joe’s “horny Gandhi” routine.
Rachel refers to Joe’s inability to get his own radio show as a tragedy more than once. A tragedy! A white bartender with no relevant experience and no creative ambitions not getting his own radio show immediately is not a tragedy. School shootings are tragedies. The Trail Of Tears was a tragedy. Donald Trump’s election was a tragedy. Joe not getting his own show barely qualifies as minor bum luck, let alone a tragedy.
Joe’s rationale for doing a radio show as Loqueesha is that as a black woman he’ll be able to say things he can’t possibly get away with as a white man, that the anonymity of playing a character allows him to confront people with harsh truths they won’t accept from him as a man., because what straight white man is listened to, or afforded a position of respect and power in society pretty much by virtue of being born a dude?
Yet in his first encounter with Rachel, Joe tells her that judging by her attitude, she might be better off dead, calls her “a fucking idiot”, then delivers a brittle, inexplicably angry and defensive lecture about how she’s responsible for all of her problems and how NOT ALL MEN are bad and it’s sexist, evil and wrong to act as if they are.
Joe finally tells a beautiful woman he wants to have sex with that she’s actually worse than her piece of shit boyfriend because she’s deluding herself and enabling him by putting up with his bullshit. If that’s the version of Joe that can’t fully express himself because of who he is and the position straight white men inhabit in society I can only imagine how he’d behave if he didn’t feel so reined-in by his gender and race. Would he drop copious N bombs? Maybe call Rachel the C word?
Then Joe and Rachel get an email from the radio station turning down his shitty test show and Joe wearily reconciles himself to a lifetime of being the Deepak Chopra of the drunk at 2 in the afternoon set.
At home Joe watches Trash Talk, a sleazy, opportunistic Jerry Springer Show-like that looks instead like a racist Sega CD game filmed in the bowels of hell where two bad CGI representations of stereotypical black women hurl insults and accusations at each other on a set that consists solely of two uncomfortable looking chairs and two monitors reading “Trash Talkin’” in front of a brick wall. It’s ostensibly a talk show but there’s no host and no audience, just crude stereotypes from the uncanniest parts of the Uncanny Valley.
Thinking out loud for no discernible reason, Joe says, “You go, girl!” (which is what the black people say to each other!), then has his Eureka moment, telling himself and the audience of the racist caricatures on television in front of him, “See, that’s who needs her own show. That’s who they want. See, they want women and minorities. They don’t want white guys like me tellin’ em what to do. If I was a black woman, I’d be perfect.”
A dramatic musical cue later, Joe is channeling his inner Madea and playing both sides of an animated phone conversation between milquetoast white dude Ted and Loqueesha, a sassy advice-giver who seemingly sprung whole cloth out of her creator’s imagination. His racist, racist, incredibly hacky and sexist imagination.
Thankfully, in the world of Loqueesha, and, unfortunately, the world outside of Loqueesha, everyone loves egregious racism because when the radio station’s desperate white owners hear “Loqueesha” they don’t ask, “My God, who is this racist asshole doing a clearly fake, unbelievably offensive voice and character?” as you or I might, because they’re too busy being entertained by Loqueesha.
“She’s brilliant!” gushes the rich old business owner, an opinion shared by pretty much everyone who encounters Loqueesha. The owners are so smitten that the radio station SWITCHES FORMATS to talk radio so they can harness the revolutionary, explosive power of a racist white comedian doing a shitty sassy black lady voice.
After his first show, Joe’s blown away black engineer sidekick Mason (comedian Dwayne Perkins, who deserves so much better), who is on hand to co-sign everything Joe does, and encourage him to exploit his adventures in audio minstrelsy as aggressively as possible, congratulates the new radio personality on a show well done and gushes, “I don’t know what I’m more impressed by, you as a black woman or your therapy techniques.”
Hey, if a fictional black character Saville wrote and created and paid someone to perform thinks Joe’s brilliance as an unlicensed therapist is only matched by his authenticity as a black woman then Joe’s scheme can’t possibly be racist, right?
Sometimes, however, it’s JOE who ends up on the receiving end of bullshit faux-wisdom, like when his son quips that the “smartphone” Joe can’t stop looking at is “making him stupid.” Incidentally, Joe’s smartphone is never referred to by name, probably because the ghost of Steve Jobs would strangle Jeremy Saville if one of his products was mentioned in Loqueesha. This is the kind of cursed project brands would happily pay good money not to be featured in.
The station is so blown away by Loqueesha’s cavalcade of audio minstrelsy that they offer her her own show, sight unseen. She’ll be working the late night shift, from 11 to 2 PM, with the caveat that no one can be in the studio with her when she records other than her engineer.
“Loqueesha” invokes the murder of Jennifer Hudson’s family as part of her rationale for wanting to be exclusively heard rather than seen. “Did you see the Jennifer Hudson trial? Where her brother-in-law killed her entire family? Well I got some men out there, if they knew where I was, would do some nasty ass shit to me, and maybe to you fellas too” Joe as Loqueesha tells the station’s lily white owners, playing to their racist fears that a black woman who speaks in a cartoonish approximation of the cadences of the streets must come from a world of violence that follows her everywhere, endangering the lives of everyone close to her no matter how successful she becomes.
Astonishingly, exploiting a real-life tragedy to explain why a white man doing an offensive impression of a black woman over the radio must do so in absolute privacy doesn’t even rank as one of Loqueesha’s top ten most offensive or racist aspects. It’s got a lot of competition.
Joe’s first show as Loqueesha is, of course, a roaring success, an utter triumph. Whether “Loqueesha” is telling a nerdy computer programmer, “You need to get yoself some coochie!” or advising a Poindexter dominated by his girlfriend that he needs go stand up for himself and “slap a bitch!”, only to specify that “she” does not condone violence against women, Loqueesha always says the right thing.
Loqueesha’s good advice tends to be less advice than sassy insults but she also says things like “Open your heart. It’s simple. You know what I mean?”, which the score lets us know is a very soulful, very powerful bit of wisdom and not trite horseshit at all.
The masses are being entertained by Loqueesha but they’re also learning life lessons.
Not just playing but being Loqueesha affords Joe the freedom and the power to say provocative things like, “You white people so afraid to say what’s on your mind. What you so afraid of? You the one runnin’ thangs! I mean, you slaves to what other people think. After all these years, white people are the slaves! How you like that?”
It’s so true! Not being able to dress up like Native Americans for Halloween or make a movie where you perform audio blackface for a black audience that worships you and hangs on your every word without being criticized relentlessly really does make white folks the new slaves—slaves to political correctness, that is! Why there are even people so politically correct they even find Loqueesha offensive!
Saville doesn’t just want us to laugh at, and with, Loqueesha. He wants us to learn with, and from, her as well. It wants to make us feel all the feels by asking, “What, really, is up with race and gender anyway?”
As Loqueesha, in modern day prophet mode wisely intones, “There’s clearly no gender in the divine nature. It just divided itself up into two for reproductive purposes and because we get tired of the same old thing.” If there’s no gender in the divine nature can we really get mad at a white man for doing an offensive interpretation of a stereotypical black woman? Isn’t that like getting mad at God and the divine nature? As the drunk from the first scene might say, “Game, set and match.” Advantage: Loqueesha.
Loqueesha becomes so huge so quickly that Joe and Mason decide to pay a black woman to play the role of Loqueesha for live appearances and publicity photos. You might expect Loqueesha to exhibit an iota of racial sensitivity in its depiction of actual black people. You would be wrong. Any time Loqueesha has an opportunity to be more racist or less racist it chooses the “more racist” option, in this case by depicting all the black candidates for the role of Loqueesha as hopelessly wrong walking freak shows.
The first applicant is a total ditz who thinks she can “be” Loqueesha without knowing anything about her. What a fool! The second would-be Loqueesha is a man with a beard and a deep, very masculine voice dressed in women’s clothing. Joe and Mason are NOT having that at all! They need a real lady to pretend to be a fake lady! The next contender tells Joe and Mason, in a flat, affectless tone, that she will perform oral sex on both of them for the job.
Just when it seems like Joe and Mason are wasting their precious, precious time, in comes the perfect candidate, Renee (Mara Hall), a Loqueesha super-fan who looks, talks and acts the part and, as a nice bonus, thinks Loqueesha is a role model for every black woman. She gets the gig but don’t worry. If anything, she’s much worse than all the other Loqueesha contenders. She’s so narcissistic she thinks she can do Loqueesha as well as an angry, defensive white man seemingly only a Youtube plunge away from going full-on Men’s Rights Activist and is dressed down repeatedly by Joe for compromising the truth, integrity and power that makes Loqueesha society’s greatest, truest, most authentic hero.
As withThe Test, Saville has decided that the way to really sell an insulting, impossible to believe and deeply offensive premise is for his character to devolve mentally halfway through and lurch into full-on madness. The now wildly successful Joe begins breaking into “Loqueesha” at random times, like when Rachel is trying to fuck him and he shouts “Damn, that feels good, girl!” and “Get some!” In Loqueesha’s voice.
“Are you making fun of me me because I’m black? And you, like, mocking me in some fucked up, twisted way?” a rightfully horrified Rachel asks Joe when, really, it’s the movie that’s making fun of black people in a fucked up, twisted way.
It’s Taxi Driver meets Soul Man when Joe confronts himself in the mirror and yells, in his Loqueesha voice, “You can’t control me, white boy!” and then “I’ll cut you in the night!”, which is funny, because black women are always threatening violence.
We once again leave the comedy of broad racial stereotypes for muddled psychodrama when Joe counsels himself on air, playing both the roles of himself and Loqueesha, savior of Detroit radio, with such uncanny insight and wisdom that he is moved almost to tears by his own words. Why shouldn’t he be? Everyone else is. We know Loqueesha isn’t just making people laugh, but think, and grow, and getting them jobs and promotions and giving them the strength to leave bad relationships because we are constantly cutting to ecstatic recipients of Loqueesha’s radio gospel of unvarnished truths, nurses who smile with their whole bodies, or a prisoner and prison guard who overcome their differences and find a powerful, albeit completely non-verbal bond when they become equally smitten with the title character, and adopt her as their guru and their savior.
All hail Loqueesha! For Loqueesha speaketh only truth. Loqueesha knoweth only righteousness. Foolish are those who transgress against Loqueesha, for Loqueesha will lash out with great anger and vengeance upon those who blaspheme and take false witness against her! Loqueesha is the light and the way! Loqueesha is our higher power! Let us make a temple to Loqueesha, so that we may bask in her divine nature!
White privilege is being a hokey-ass white dude arrogant enough to make a vanity project where you do a bad Amos and Andy meet Madea routine that somehow wins you a Michelle Obama-level of popularity and respect in the black community.
Loqueesha saves a desperate woman from throwing herself off a bridge to a watery death through a trademark combination of sassy insults, taunts and homespun wisdom in a maudlin sequence featuring some of the worst green screen this side of Fateful Findings and The Room.
Loqueesha is so popular that television comes calling. Oprah wants to give Loqueesha her own show but that would mean giving up control of Loqueesha and Joe isn’t about to do that, especially if the other option involves a real black woman who looks and acts like the character Joe created but lacks the soul, kindness and deep, penetrating insight into the human condition that make Loqueesha God-like.
When Renee, the actress playing Loqueesha in personal appearances, offers to solve Joe’s problems by taking over the role permanently, Joe responds with an indignant, “You do a good job with the personal appearances, but the therapy, that’s just not your thing”, which is a not so coded way of saying, “You’re great at being loud and sassy because you’re black and all but let the white guy handle the smart stuff.”
I was hoping that Loqueesha would undercut its rampant racism and misogyny by acknowledging that maybe a genuine strong black woman would do a better job at portraying black female strength on the radio than a white man. I was wrong. Loqueesha goes the opposite route by turning Renee into a one-dimensional villain intent on compromising the unimpeachable integrity and truth that makes Loqueesha such a figure of strength and inspiration.
When Renee as Loqueesha is confronted by dispirited listeners who complain that it’s almost like Loqueesha has turned into an entirely different, less Magical person she rages, “You like the Romans who nailed up our Lord and Savior. You a murderous cretin and I’m God-like.”
Renee is not subtle in her villainy. She is demonic, while Loqueesha, the REAL fake Loqueesha lovingly conceived and brilliantly performed by Joe to the delight and edification of all, is an angel of tough love and sassy, nonsensical one-liners. Loqueesha sees nothing strange or untoward, or, I dunno, RACIST about encouraging audiences to boo and jeer Renee, a real black woman performing the role of Loqueesha, sage of the Western world, while cheering and drawing wisdom and strength from the white man who breathed magnificent life into his glorious, beloved creation.
Joe is using racist stereotypes for GOOD, to save his son and help transform lives. Renee, on the other hand, is using racist stereotypes for bad, to glorify herself instead of serving humanity as the sassy messiah of the airwaves.
Loqueesha’s perverse message that it takes a straight white man to really excel as a proud Nubian Princess, and that Joe is a way better black person than the film’s black characters, is driven home when Renee, having absolutely humiliated herself and Joe by trying to be as convincing and authentic a wise black truth teller as a white bartender concedes to Joe, “You were a better black woman than I am, okay?” and he does not contradict her at all.
Vibrating with unearned self-righteousness, Joe scolds a woman egomaniacal enough to imagine she could “be” Loqueesha a tenth as well as a straight white man by lecturing her, “It was never about race or gender or fame or fortune. It was about telling the truth straight from your heart without fear or worry of being wrong or bad. It was holistic healing broadcast from the sky into the hearts and minds of anybody willing to tune in. You turned it into your egomaniacal circus, your platform for your personal power play, and now it’s gone!”
Holistic healing broadcast from the sky! Holy fucking shit. That doesn’t sound like a radio personality who is full of himself (or herself) to a pathological degree: that sounds like a cult leader, and not one of the good, harmless ones either.
So what is happening, essentially, is that Joe is getting VERY angry and indignant about someone from another race and gender appropriating a voice and personality and attitude and a persona that is not their own. Joe is full of self-righteousness about a black woman having the gall to try to co-opt a character and personality that he lovingly stole from black womanhood, then exaggerated wildly for comic and professional purposes. But it’s okay and we’re supposed to be on Joe’s side because, as we have established, Joe is a better black women than the actual black women in the cast.
Now when we cut away to broadly-drawn representations of “the people” they’re scowling and looking heartbroken and suicidal, despondent that the genius who once gave their small, sad lives meaning and purpose with her words, and her shining example, has been replaced by a cruel pretender. Oh unmerciful fate! Why hath thou deprived the people of their beloved Loqueesha, replaced by a callow lookalike and soundalike? Don’t thou understand that Joe as Loqueesha represents the best of us?
Like The Test, Loqueesha offers an insultingly unearned happy ending for a protagonist who behaves in a selfish, unhinged and deeply unethical way throughout the film, learns nothing, and grows and matures in no way whatsoever, yet is rewarded rather than punished.
The gorgeous, worshipful Rachel returns after a forty minute absence to speak some of the only truths in the movie: that Joe is a racist and a misogynist who callously exploited racist stereotypes and spoke in a racist white approximation of Ebonics in the service of getting rich over-playing an idiotic, over the top cartoon caricature of a sassy black women.
Loqueesha is having none of that. It alone knows what a hero and genius and boon to humanity Joe/Loqueesha represents. So even in her anger and rage Rachel has no choice but to concede that Loqueesha’s advice was “brilliant” and that she loves this horrible, horrible white man who has spent the film perpetrating a racist, sexist hoax.
Then they fuck. Seriously. She’s so moved by Joe’s claim that “I may be a fake and a phony but I am the most authentic one you will ever meet” that she hops into bed with him to sexually reward him for illustrating that he’s the best black woman AND a pretty terrific white man at the same time. It’s the best of both worlds!
Joe doesn’t even have to stop doing Loqueesha! A public that views Loqueesha the way Jesus’ apostles viewed their Savior vote for him to stay on the air as Joe AND Loqueesha. That might seem like a pathetic, racist cop-out but Loqueesha honestly labors under the delusion that Joe has done absolutely nothing wrong and pretty much everything right, in terms of giving advice so right and so white that it straight up SAVES lives and changes people profoundly for the better.
In the film’s estimation, the worst Joe did was “put on a funny voice” in order to “help people”, employing a “theatrical device” to tell the public not what they want to hear but rather what they NEED to hear.
Loqueesha closes with a dedication to “Mom & Dad.” I have no idea what Saville’s parents could possibly have done to earn such a dishonor but whatever it is, it can’t be that bad. The same is true of Detroit, where the film takes place, although it is so badly shot and composed that it’s not always apparent what planet this Detroit is on.
Saville could have set Loqueesha anywhere else and saved Detroit the shame of being associated with Saville and his cinematic endeavors. Yet he chose to cruelly punish the city by making it the setting for an astonishingly awful travesty of a motion picture.
Hasn’t Detroit been through enough, without it being linked for eternity to Loqueesha? Why must Saville degrade and embarrass this most luckless of American metropolises? From the proud home of the American auto industry to the humiliated home of the Loqueesha industry is one hell of a downturn but I have faith that Detroit, in its strength and its resilience, will be able to overcome Loqueesha as it has overcome so many challenges before.
Failure, Fiasco or Secret Success: Fiasco
Dude, I fucking watched Loqueesha and wrote a four thousand word essay about it. If that doesn’t merit pledging a dollar to this site’s Patreon account over at https://www.patreon.com/nathanrabinshappyplace