When Lovers Rock didn’t

3 days after it viewed people are still shell shocked about the Lovers Rock drama? You may think why this would be, given that it’s just an hour and obviously made to entertain the masses.

I feel like I’m disclaiming everything these days but, firstly this isn’t a review of Steve McQueen’s Lovers Rock from Sunday 22nd November. I don’t have a TV license and don’t BBC. But, after the success of the first episode in the series Small Axe people were really looking forward to it. Everyone was reminding everyone else that it was on that night and that you HAD to see it. It was like a night in front of the telly when you call you sibling downstairs to see black folk on TV. Fun times! So why the furore now?  

Expectation was as high and wide as Janet Kay’s range  

After Small Axe the previous week which was a heavy and emotional depiction of the Mangrove Nine Trial, lots of people had high expectations for this one. Let’s be honest, you throw in music and dancing and many were whisked back into their younger years and happier memories.

In my view we can’t expect everything black to be authentic and tell our single story because:

  1. Artistic license
  2. This was commissioned by the BBC
  3. It was an hour to tell a story of a 2 decade music era
  4. A single Black British story doesn’t exist

There is a heavy responsibility on Black creators to honour the community and their stories. I agree that respect needs to be shown. Like the Rastafarian on the floor depiction wasn’t authentic. The lesbian storyline seemed superfluous. We can’t afford to waste the few opportunities we have out here to be seen by throwing in 4 storylines, right?  

So what went wrong?

According to reliable sources some of the depiction of setting and mood were correct. But so much was missed that it jarred people out of the immersive, nostalgic experience. I suspect a lot ended up on the cutting room floor but even more so was drawn out unnecessarily which suits the Director’s style. Disclaimer 2. I’ve not seen any work of his yet that I’ve loved. It’s been ok but his artistic style doesn’t speak to me generally. In a film there is space to be whimsical but in a one hour drama? Nah

Accuracy is key. Also accents are really important. Great to have a Grenadian flag but if everyone in there is supposedly Jamaican accented… I dunno. Accents hurt lives and is my pet peeve. Are there no Jamaican actors out there?

My favourite comment was my friend saying ‘and the Sound were on time? That NEVER happened!’

Where were they always coming from?

We aren’t the target audience

I’d like to remind everyone that certain Directors and writers are not writing for the black audience. They want to eat and so must direct their story telling to the majority of the country. The majority who voted Leave. That majority we call middle England. The majority who have never even heard of this music before. “Oh how interesting! You listen to your music at home!” It wasn’t an A-Z guide of the genre. It was one night. So I think getting some realistic portrayal of that era was a job well done. It’s a shame when there are glaring anomalies though.

What about the almost rape?

And, as this is me I have to talk about the heterosexual interaction.

A lot of comments on Facebook said that this never happened back then and that wasn’t in the keeping of the genre and parties of the time. Sorry, that’s a lie. I only caught a few of these parties in my youth and they were horrendous for me. I was a skinny girl with ample bum. What tended to happen is that I would be pressed up against a wall whilst someone’s father or uncle dry humped me and called it dancing. Nah Unc, you literally just masturbated on me. I hated it.

It was like the socially acceptable grabbing at Carnival which made me stop going. Maybe those who were older and more seasoned were safer. Also those who experienced Lovers Rock through family gatherings. But it was not so for everyone. Can we just accept on this International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women that not everyone had a safe, sexually untouched experience?

So it probably did happen to someone you know and they haven’t told you about it because the denial is strong sometimes. Maybe not the way that Steve McQueen told it but, how can we pretend that it NEVER happened? Also some men can’t differentiate between a grind and a grunt and grind.

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