“Something New” (2006) is a Hollywood film starring Sanaa Lathan and Simon Baker about a black woman, Kenya McQueen, who has a love affair with a white man, Brian Kelly. Alfre Woodard plays her mother; Blair Underwood appears as the Ideal Black Man.
I started watching it but fell asleep. It was not believable:
- She is a high-powered accountant, he is a landscaper.
- There is no chemistry: they do not seem like they are in love – or even in like. In fact, there seems to be a certain coldness and distance between them.
The other day I watched it all the way through. I was right about the lack of chemistry, but his being a landscaper, I now see, was necessary for the story.
“The Princess and the Commoner” might be a better name: she is from black high society and falls in love with an ordinary man, one her circle would disapprove of. Like, say, a white landscaper – wrong race, works with his hands, etc.
She is looking for IBM – the Ideal Black Man. She even has a checklist. And she finds him halfway through the film when Blair Underwood appears. But by then she is already dating Simon Baker.
The racism between them gets real for only 30 seconds: They were shopping for food and she was talking about racism at work. He says he wants to have just one night where they do not talk about it:
Lathan: Am I just supposed to keep that to myself, Brian? And deny who I am?
Baker: No, I’ve never asked you to deny anything. All I wanted, all I wanted was a night off.
Lathan: That’s what being black is about, Brian. You don’t get a night off.
Baker: You know what? I’m never gonna be on the right side of the war going on inside your head, because I’m not black. All right? I’m never gonna be black. So maybe this isn’t what you want. Maybe it just isn’t gonna work.
They break up. She dates Blair Underwood but does not love him. She makes partner at her firm – but comes home at night to an empty house.
How it ends: At a black high society dance she is in the lady’s room crying. She has come so far but all seems lost. And then she sees that Mr Right is not found in some checklist in your head. He is found in your heart, whether he be rich or poor, black or white. She goes out into the night looking for her man, her long white dress trailing behind her getting dirty. She brings him back to the dance, Jill Scott’s “Family Reunion” begins to play and they slow dance. Utterly perfect.
– Abagond, 2010.