Christmas is always a tough time for me. No matter how many people I am around or how many friends send me well wishes, I alway have a hard time with the holiday. This year, my partner & I went with the non-traditional route and opted to stay at home on the holiday, only to go to the movies that afternoon. I had been saying for weeks how I wanted to go see the film, "Fences", knowing that my manager had been raving about the film ever since the play was set out to be made into a film.
What a mistake that was.
Now first, let me preface this by saying that the film is by far one of the more better Denzel Washington films I have seen. Normally, people hype this man up and I am the first to tell people to have a seat as I don't believe that his work is really all that to write home about. I was more set on seeing the film because Viola was in it, but as usual, (You know, sexism), the film was set to the tune that it was Denzel stole the show.
Lies. All lies I tell you.
What I will say is that this film challenged me on so many levels, not just because it tackled issues pertaining to toxic masculinity, but it really dealt with topics related to father/son relationships.
In my work, I rarely talk about my father because honestly, we don't have the best relationship: if that is truly what you want to call it. While my father was nothing like the character in that film, my father still attributed to many of the issues I have as a Black queer man.
In a past post, I discussed how problematic the rhetoric is around the idea of telling young Black men to "Be a man", but this film really helped me to dig deeper and ask myself some hard hitting questions. The greatest/hardest thing I had to come to terms with after watching this film was understanding a point that I think many people missed. What I got from the film was that no matter how many time I told my father I hated him, or how many times I tried to show him how successful I am, he would still be the same person.
Whats even more real is me knowing that my father is up in age and I have gone back and forth on several occasions about whether or not I would go to his funeral if he passed away. What I learned from this film is that even in death: my father will always be the same person and me holding on to that spite will only hinder my growth.
While I can write for days about the toxic masculinity in that film and how awful Denzel was to BOTH of his sons, but most, his wife, one of the realizations I had during the film was that Denzel's character, much like many of the Black men I know, know no other way of surviving in this life other than being a hard ass. And with the things they have battle both at home and out on the streets, it's a wonder how many Black fathers still remain sane and dedicated to being great fathers.
What I don't want people to do is think I am excusing Black men, misogyny and how shitty Denzel's character was. What I am saying is that Black men are often awful to their children because their fathers were awful to them, so on and so on. I am sure that if you dug into the history of the character, you would see a trend.
My father was shitty to my mother because my grandfather was shitty to my grandmother. The hardest thing to process now as an adult was that my grandmother excused it in various ways, much like the way Viola did in her role. Toxic masculinity & patriarchy is and will always be the downfall of the black family.
This film is important for Black men because it's time we start talking about ending the cycle of pain that our fathers have inflicted on us. How we don't have to buy into the idea that we need to become our fathers or run through life like our fathers. What I am extremely grateful for is what this movie taught me about mending my own pain and how I can work towards being a better person for not only my partner, but for my future children.
To find more local showtimes for this film, head over to Fandango.