We Deserve More Rom-Coms About Blak Love

I want 'When Harry Met Sally', but Blak and set in Kununurra.

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I remember watching Love & Basketball for the very first time and thinking it was the kind of fairytale I wanted to have.

The 2000 film is an epic story about frenemies turned lovers, as Monica (Saana Lanthan) and Quincy (Omar Epps) fall hard for each other after their families became neighbours. At first glance, Love & Basketball is a story about success, family, and, well, basketball. But at its heart, the movie is all about love — Black love.

As an adult, I still watch this movie regularly because of how much I relate to Monica. As a teenager, all I wanted to do was play AFL, so it made sense to me that Monica wanted to be the next NBA star. My first kiss was with a neighbourhood boy, and so was hers. These little similarities left me wanting a love story like Monica and Quincy — but only if Maxwell’s ‘This Woman’s Work’ was going to play all the time.

The Magic Of Black Rom-Coms

Over the years I have studied and watched Black movies like Love Jones, a story about a photographer Nina (Nia Long) and poet Jones (Larenz Tate). Like Love & Basketball, I connected with the movie more than mainstream rom-coms with all white casts. In Love Jones, Nina and Jones are creatives — just like me. They live in a rich and energetic city, and are trying to follow their dreams — just what I’m doing right now. The film also has one of the best poems readings of all time in it, as Jones declares his intentions to Nina just after meeting her.

“They all call me brother to the night
and right now I am the blues in your left thigh,
trying to be the funk in your right—is that alright?”

Now that’s just smoother than the cream cheese on your toast, isn’t it? It’s just one of many Black rom-com moments I think about often.

I can’t watch the 1999 classic The Best Man without out standing up at the end to join the wedding guests dancing to Cameo’s “Candy” — an iconic scene. I watch this movie every now and then just to see the different types of Black love — between old friends, old flames, and new partners. It reminds me that love is complex… and that every now and then we all just need to pause on life and have a boogie to a ’90s banger.

But, Where’s Our Love Story?

Years of watching Black romance play out in American films has me asking: Where’s our love story? Where’s the story that shows Indigenous people falling in love.

While movies like Love & Basketball and The Best Man set a new standard of rom-com, they did so only in America. Yes, these characters are Black, but I want and need to see someone like me — I want Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander characters to show that yes, we can and do have love for each other, and are so deserving of that love.

I want When Harry Met Sally, but Blak and set in Kununurra.

We deserve to see that sappy snot-crying, big-love professing, intense-staring love in a movie. I want When Harry Met Sally, but Blak and set in Kununurra.

I want to see rom-coms based in some of the most remote places in Australia — in the bush, next to the ocean, or in the desert. I want them in language, Creole, or broken-down English. How about a parody of dating in a remote town, where everyone knows each other? Or a cute opening scene about having the courage to ask someone out at the blue light disco.

There are so many things that could be put into a movie to tell an Indigenous love story without stereotypes, to create something mob can just relate to.

We all deserve something we can relate to — or hope to relate to one day.

Now, I may not be the best when it comes to pitching love stories. And I know there are a few already — Top End Wedding, Bran Nue Dae, Samson and Deliyah — but there still aren’t anywhere near enough.

And it’s important to tell these type of stories on screen. We all deserve something we can relate to — or hope to relate to one day. We deserve to see realistic portrayals of Blak attitudes in relationships — without the emphasis on Blak struggle — just to show us something we can laugh over, cry over, and maybe even hope to have.

Because who am I if not just an Aboriginal woman hoping to see someone with my face falling dumb in love with another Blak person on screen?

Molly Hunt is a Sydney-based writer and illustrator. You can follow her on Twitter.