Ask any 10 millennial black women to list their favorite movies, and I’d bet at lest half of them will mention Love Jones, the 1997 film about two lovers in Chicago who were deeply drawn to each other despite trying very, very hard to keep things light.
If you’re one of the few sad souls who’s never seen the film (umm, really?) it stars Larenz Tate and Nia Long as two artsy Chicagoans on the rebound from broken hearts, and not-so-finished relationships.
Darius (Tate’s character) is a smooth writer who uses his ability to finesse the mic to get Nina’s (Nia Long) attention. After reciting a poem about taking Nina from her man and living between her thighs, Nina is intrigued, but brushes off Darius’ advances because, as she told her girl, “Love is played out like an 8-track.”
But Darius doesn’t give up. He continues to peruse Nina and eventually wins her heart and all of the dumb ish that goes along with unstable relationships: trust issues, lies, miscommunication, and games. Ultimately the pair breaks up and move on to new, even more fabulous lives, but they just can’t manage to let go of that jones…that feeling that draws them to each other.
While this film is indeed one of the great cinematic love stories of the ‘90s, and has inspired a generation of would-be Ninas to search for a well-versed, intelligent, creative, renaissance man such as Darius, looking back on the film as an adult makes me realize that perhaps, we should have picked better relationship role models.
Although Love Jones is still one of my favorite films (and yes, an epic love story with an even MORE epic score and soundtrack), unless we are looking for examples of what not to do in relationships, Love Jones should remain just a film and not an example of the love we want to see in our lives.
So, what exactly did Love Jones teach me?
There’s a thin line between stalking and persistence
After Nina refuses to give Darius her number, he just wouldn’t give up on pursuing her. After seeing her at their local music store, he laid down his best player moves, played her a jazz record, and almost walked away with the digits, but she turned him down…again. Instead of licking his wounds, Darius decided to steal her address and pop up at her apartment.
Now, although Darius’ persistence seemed sweet in the film (and it paid off), in real life his actions would have had me calling the cops.
Showing up at my apartment when I never told you where I lived? No, sir. I think not.
People who push past and disregard the boundaries we set are not persistent, they are not sweet, they are lowkey stalkers. And if you relent to their tactics on the little things, you tell them that your word means very little and they can, and will, get what they want in the end.
It’s rarely ‘just sex’
After Nina and Darius go on their first date, they tumble into her bed and give each other that good, good lovin’. The next day, however, Nina tells her bestie “to relax, it’s just sex,” and Darius tells his boy the same thing.
Only it isn’t.
While there are some people who can, in fact, have sex with no strings attached, if we are honest with ourselves, this is rarely the case. Although you might not be catching feelings, the person you just cuffed up the sheets with is pining away wondering what you’re doing right now.
Leave the games to the kids
Let’s face it, Nina and Darius were doomed from the jump. Yes they had amazing chemistry, but they should have just called it what it was from the beginning: a mess.
Although she knew she wasn’t over her ex, Nina jumped head long into a “situation” with Darius. Both her heart and her mind weren’t ready, and yet, she let herself fall for him anyway. When her unresolved feelings for her ex resurfaced, instead of being honest with Darius, she played games and went off to test the waters and “teach him a lesson.” After playing house for a while she realized that her relationship with ol’ boy was dunzo, and she returned to Darius only to find that he had moved onto the next one.