It should be no surprise that ish has hit the fan; now that the new Denzel Washington movie, “Flight,” has been out for more than five minutes; African American women have learned that Washington shares an on-screen kiss with a white woman!
In a recent Washington Post story about the film, writer Courtland Milloy, strategically went to watch the movie at a Magic Johnson Theater because, as she states, it’s “the place to go if you want to hear the audience interacting with what’s happening on screen.”
“As Denzel Washington puckered up to kiss Kelly Reilly, his redheaded co-star in the movie “Flight,” you half expect the camera to cut away. Surely,Washington doing “love scenes” with a white woman in a movie billed as an airplane thriller would be too much baggage for the movie to fly. And as the camera zoomed in on those locked lips, that proved to be the case.”
After all, in Milloy’s story, the audience warned Washington’s character [out loud] when he swore off booze, and then attempted to reach for the bottle; and they expressed their disappointment, verbally, when he caved in.
But instead of the emotional eruption one might have expected after the kiss between the pilot and his muse there was:
Perhaps they were in shock. After all, Washington has never had an on-screen romance with a white woman. African American women may have put the thought of it ever being an issue out of their mind.
But here it is, 2012, and he did. Look, Washington has covered this scenario in past interviews. Quite frankly, with this tenured A-List status; he never shied away from the fact that he really had no desire to portray an interracial partner if it was just to give shock value to an audience.
That may or may not have been Washington’s “professional response” to something he simply had no interest in doing anyway. It has been rumored the actor never wanted to offend his loyal core audience: Black women.
In the 2008 article, “Race Matters: Is Hollywood Truly Color Blind When It Comes To On-Screen Romance, Shannon Pace writes,
“Take Denzel…When not romantically paired with black women, Washington is usually without a romantic lead (Courage Under Fire, Fallen, Virtuosity, Man on Fire, Remember the Titans, etc.) or trapped into roles that require him to play asexual opposite white leading ladies (The Pelican Brief, The Bone Collector).
But here’s another perspective. Check out this excerpt as Denzel responds to writer Veronica Webb, who grilled him for an article in “Interview” magazine.
WEBB: What’s the most embarrassing thing you ever had to do on film?
WASHINGTON: The love scenes in Spike’s film.
WEBB: Why? What level [of] eroticism are you aiming for?
WASHINGTON: There’s nothing erotic about nine people standing around you and a woman, setting up lights and cameras.
WEBB: Then why were you embarrassed? Did the scene involve some kind of freak sex?
WEBB: Do we get to see you butt-ass naked?
WASHINGTON: Everyone was wearing their drawers. We all had our shirts off. I’m just not comfortable with love scenes.
Hmmmm … He’s just not comfortable with love scenes.
OK, so that was in 1990. Of course the actor is older, wiser, and more experienced now; and with “Flight” Washington may be spreading his wings, so to speak.
Still, Washington once said to Kelly Lynch, a white actress who co-starred with him in “Virtuosity,”
‘You know what, Kelly? I hate to say it, but…white men bring women to movies, and they don’t want to watch a black man with their woman.”
This may have weighed on the actor’s mind, even subconsciously, throughout his career.
At this stage of the game, Denzel Washington may have absolutely nothing to worry about though. Black women ‘gon see what they want to see; and believe what they want to believe. Check out what 0ne woman told writer Milloy, after viewing the film.
Toni Blocker, a retired visual information specialist with the D.C. government, was blunt about it. “The relationship was awkward and didn’t work for me,” she said.
And the way it’s written, its hard to tell if this next bit was the writer, or an aside from Toni Blocker, (I happen to think Washington deliberately made the kissing scenes look awkward, like he was kissing a window pane, a signal to black women that his heart really wasn’t in it.)
OK, so now the actor is sending subliminal signals? Uh boy. What’s a Denzel to do.