Hav Plenty & Medicine for Melancholy

As y’all know, I’m not big into romantic comedies. I tend to find them cliché. However, I do try to give black romantic films/romantic comedies a chance. I do think more black love stories need to be told.  A few days ago, I came across the old 1997 (1998?) film “Hav Plenty” on Netflix. The film was part of the big explosion of black movies in the 90’s (“Set It Off,” “Boyz in the Hood, “Just Another Girl On the IRT,” “Love Jones,”  “Soul Food,” etc.) Unlike the beloved romantic comedy “Love Jones,” Hav Plenty tends to be forgotten.

While I will always heart “Love Jones,” Hav Plenty is a more charming movie. It’s an indie film with an obvious low-budget. The film also tweaks the cliché love story line. Hav Plenty was written, produced and directed by Christopher Scott Cherot:

“Lee Plenty is an almost broke would-be novelist and Havilland Savage is rich and very beautiful woman and his friend. When she invites him to her home for New Year’s Eve, they start to build up a romance.”  http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0126938/plotsummary?ref_=tt_ov_pl

Cherot does a good job playing the funny and sarcastic Lev Plenty (it’s also bizarre he kind of looks singer Christopher Williams and they have the same first name!)  The beautiful Chenoa Maxwell plays Havilland Savage (she currently stars on the reality TV show “Crazy.Sexy.Life”). Throughout the film, the two characters engage in witty banter as a way to hide their true feelings for each other.

The film holds up well after all these years. I kinda wish that the film had been given a wee bit bigger budget. It looks horribly cheap in some scenes. But then again, the charm of the film/genuine moments are due to the lack of budget…so what can ya do. One of my favorite scenes is when Plenty is sitting in the car and looks at Havilland wistfully as she walks away. Damn. We’ve all been there.  I still teared up a bit on that part 🙂

It was strange how Cherot disappeared after this film. As a matter of fact, I Googled and found an old  “where are they now” article with a focus on Cherot. After reading the update I believe that  (1) sometimes folks are meant to do that one amazing thing and that’s it.  It doesn’t mean they are a failure, it’s just that they did what they were supposed to do and that’s okay.  (2) it speaks to the challenges faced by indie black directors and the fact that things have only gotten a little better (3) perhaps, Cherot forewarned his future in film making with his ending line in Hav Plenty “I got the deal and the girl and I only sold out a little bit. It’s what I wanted…right?” 😉


After I watched Hav Plenty, I also watched “Medicine for Melancholy.”  “Medicine…” is a contemporary black love story. It’s another charming indie film by director Barry Jenkins. Medicine for Melancholy came out in 2009. The film follows Micah (Wyatt Cenac) and Jo’ (Tracey Hegginswho decide to spend the day together, after a one night stand. Micah is feeling Jo,’ but Jo’ has a boyfriend. Ouch. I liked “Medicine for Melancholy” because it also tweaked the love story narrative.  It’s unique, because yes it’s about two folks jonezing on each other, but the film also explores how black love can be affected by gentrification, racism, and interracial relationships.  Particularly, if you are two young black hipsters living in San Francisco.  I also liked that tweak of the love story, as we rarely see films about black hipsters/alternative black folks. 

My only compliant with both films is the underdevelopment of the black female love interests. The films are still worth checking out, though.  Especially for folks like me who aren’t big into romantic movies. You won’t feel too icky, after watching these two films 🙂

Racist Commercial Las Vegas 2013

I’m sure most folks have heard/seen this racist ad courtesy of Las Vegas.com…If not, here ya go:

The Sapphire stereotype is an image mainstream media loves of black women. They can project all of their hatred of blackness/women on this caricature. The loud black woman rolling her neck with long acrylics at her customer service job,  dehumanizes black women who work in these positions .  The Sapphire stereotype has been around forever.

As noted on the website, For Harriet: celebrating the fullness of black womanhood:

“Hard, strong, emasculating, overbearing and controlling are all characteristics of the traditional Sapphire stereotype.  Sapphire was created to threaten the power of the black male and to place a negative gaze upon any black woman who dared to critique the horrible conditions black women had to face.  The Sapphire stereotype was popularized by the character, Sapphire Stevens, in the mid 20th century television show Amos ‘n’ Andy. Today Sapphire has evolved into the angry black woman.  This stereotype is probably the most popular characterization of black women today.  This woman is always yelling, starting fights, and insulting men.  Reality television is perpetuating this stereotype more than ever by highlighting fights between black women and failed relationships with black men.  This stereotype has become such a popular way to view black women that our first lady, Michelle Obama, who exudes grace and class has been classified as a modern say Sapphire.”


I agree with the blogger’s sentiment. It’s obvious the images of black women have grown worse due to the presence of Mrs. Obama. There seems an urgent agenda to degrade and tear down the self-esteem of black women/girls. They can’t have other black women/girls thinking they can achieve all that Mrs. Obama has, now can they? Mrs. Obama was also initially portrayed as an angry black woman/Sapphire. The early criticisms included: her not smiling enough, her words “for the first time in my adult lifetime, I’m really proud of my country,” and her insistence on being viewed as equal to her husband. It’s not surprising that Mrs. Obama has now been regulated to background status. Now she is loved by the masses, because she no longer posses a threat. It’s obvious she has been forced/coerced to soften her style. White feminists have criticized this change, but it just show that  they have failed yet again, to look at the complexities of women of color lives. It’s a thin line Mrs. Obama teeters on, as the first black First Lady. While I wish she would do more, I understand. In any case, this commercial shows that black women must be diligent in resisting these stereotypes. These images are being put out there to  destroy and colonize our minds.



Hello….My name is Tonya J.

I am the creator of the zine “See Me: Issues that Affect Our Lives,  Acts of Resistance against Oppression, and Black Feminist Thought.”

What’s a zine? It’s  a take on the word maga(zine) and is a form of self- publishing. Read here to learn more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zine

The purpose of this blog is the same as my zine…to resist oppression with black feminist thought.