Tune out ‘Loqueesha’
“I still walk down the street in the black side of town. Mousey and Chops and all the boys at 13th, and — I can walk in those pool halls, and quite frankly don’t know another white man involved in Delaware politics who can do that kind of thing.” – Joe Biden
As demonstrated by the above quote, discussions on race can get very awkward (to put it mildly) when addressed tactlessly. Loqueesha manages a bit better than the Vice President (not to mention a few big name actors; you know who you are), but still stumbles hard.
Creating a storm on Twitter for its trailer before a quiet release on Amazon, Loqueesha comes from star, director, writer, and producer Jeremy Saville, who bites off way more than he can chew.
Bartender and single dad Joe (Saville) is informed by his ex-wfie (Susan Diol) that their son (Thaddeaus Ek) has been accepted at a fancy private school with impossibly high tuition. Still, he vows to get him there. Not long after, Rachel (Tiara Parker) – a bar goer who was very impressed with the advice Joe regularly gives out to people, herself included – informs him of a local radio station looking for new talent.
Joe sends in a demo of himself and gets rejected. But when he looks closer at the ad, it says that women and minorities are encouraged to apply. After seeing two black women argue on a Jerry Springer-ish show, he gets an idea. He sends the radio a new demo, but this time he is impersonating a black woman he names Loqueesha. The station, of course, falls for it and hires him (though not knowing the truth), precipitating efforts on Joe’s part to keep up the ruse.
One of the biggest things off here is that the premise is flawed from the start: Joe’s Loqueesha voice really does not sound like a black woman. It would have been a better idea to (as was the case with Sorry to Bother You) dub over those parts with an actual black actress. That, however, could only go so far in mitigation.
Is Loqueesha racist? There’s certainly worse – this definitely would not crack the top ten most racist films in this decade alone (probably wouldn’t even make the top twenty) – but that’s not really saying much, is it? However, there was certainly some potential here, even with a white star and this idea. It could have been something along the lines of Bamboozled where the character intentionally creates something offensive to make a point and the film then serves as an indictment of the people and culture that perpetuate racism. But as is, this one does not do that and wouldn’t have nearly enough self-awareness to pull it off. The idea that the Loqueesha character is a harmful stereotype doesn’t surface until the very end, at which time the movie is wrapping and so it doesn’t get properly addressed.
Another interesting angle would have been to lean into the greater concept of a disguise and how it could be more freeing for the person who puts it on. It’d be one thing if Joe felt he couldn’t be totally honest as himself and invented the persona as a way around that. But since he is normally direct with people (why trying out was recommended to him in the first place), that can’t really work as things are.
There is actually a pretty unique twist that comes in about halfway through – one so ingenuous and fitting that it’s a wonder it isn’t already used frequently – but then promptly get resolved and dropped. Some sitcom-style lines (not race-related) are worth a chuckle or two. And aside from not grappling with the larger issues, the ending does produce a satisfying result.
Loqueesha seems to be a movie only put into being to create a brief stir, inspire some memes, and be promptly forgotten. If so, mission accomplished. Buy try for something more substantive next time.