From Chapter 3 – Black Women as Cinematic “Other”
In the history of filmmaking, never has there been a period when the black female subject has enjoyed a prolonged spate of positive portrayals on screen. From the onset, black women’s cinematic representation has been an ambiguous one.
Waiting to Exhale
Taken from McMillan’s blockbuster novel, Waiting to Exhale tells the story of four women, each dealing with man troubles. Savannah Jackson (Whitney Houston), a TV producer who is having an affair with a married man; Bernadine Harris (Angela Bassett), a mother dealing with a messy divorce from a man who’s leaving her for a white woman; Robin Stokes (Lela Rochon) a young executive who is struggling with an aimless relationship; and Gloria Matthews (Loretta Devine), a single mother who pines for her ex-husband who has come out as gay. The women forge a friendship that carries them through their troubles.
There is a lot to admire about this story of four attractive and accomplished women. Their friendship and their celebration of black womanhood and sisterhood as well as their portrayal of professional women in contemporary film. As noted in the L.A. Times article,”Waiting to Exhale’ breathed life into films with ethnic casts and a woman’s point of view 20 years ago.” But, as we discussed in class, this film still subscribes to many of the traditional stereotypes that have plaqued black women throughout the history of film. 20 Years Later, what does ‘Waiting to Exhale’ mean to Millennial women?
Please incorporate the readings, any additional resources like articles and our class discussions. Make sure you review your response before posting, for grammar and spelling errors.