I wrote this piece years ago. I'm not quite sure if I ever posted it, but it's something I'm still struggling through as I consume entertainment.
I watched the first episode of season 2 of Insecure today. I have loved Issa Rae since 2010 when my roommate and I sat in Jubilee Hall watching and re-watching episodes of Awkward Black Girl. Finally, a show that communicated the intimacies of our identities as girls that were never "cool", but were always accepted. Issa and I navigated our emotions together during that weird phase of my life and I appreciated her art for speaking to my little awkward 18-year-old soul.
Her first television series, Insecure, was definitely on my list of things to watch. Between the title and the trailers, I just knew I would be encouraged by another show that captivated such a vital part of my identity-- my black awkward womanhood. As soon as I could, I got my HBO subscription and binge watched every episode with my husband. In the beginning, I was entertained, but as I got deeper into the show, I found myself disturbed, so much so that I would be driven to tears. The last episode of the first season wrecked me in such a way that I was distracted and hurt. It even affected my thoughts toward my own, innocent, husband for a moment. Good art tends to have that affect. I talked through it with my husband and got over it for the most part, ready to engage in the second season.
This morning, I watched the first episode. I cried. I cried hard. I was distracted at work all day. The last scene left me feeling physically and emotionally drained. I didn't feel the unwarranted twinge of hope reflecting in the main character's face. I felt defiled and debased.
I look at Issa and I see a longing familiar to many women. It was the same longing from the first season, intensified by her own failures. I see the manipulation in her heart, the kind that is deceitful and selfish, lacking in real love, despite our culture's evaluation of what love looks like. I see Lawrence's actions, toward his own body, toward these women's bodies, and I am disgusted. I felt a sort of physical empathy. While "passionate" and consensual, these experiences were not what sex was meant to be. The passion is not fueled by real love and a desire to please the other person. It's only rapaciously devouring to satisfy a thirst these acts can't quench.
I won't get into the fact that all of this is completely sinful and that the Bible warns us about these affects. I'm here to talk about us, the viewers. Me. The person who has to deal with the affects of such images. I find myself here often. Certain songs draw me to a place where my emotions overwhelm me. Even scents take me back to mistakes I've made, moments I've felt ravaged, and I am drawn to tears. My heart is entangled and I am mentally and emotionally paralyzed, all because of the imagination of an artist. In the midst of such turmoil I am reminded of Proverbs 4:23.