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Friday, August 6, 2010

Becoming Jacqueline Broyer


Next to my impeccable mother, the woman who has had the second most influence on my life is a fictional character. While many girls were groomed to idolize Jackie O, I grew up idolizing Jacqui B. Jacqueline Broyer; the fierce femme fatale played to the hilt by actress Robin Givens in the 1992 movie Boomerang.

I was just a little girl. Skinny legs, a press and curl. My mother always
thought I'd be a star. -Lauryn Hill


I was just a little girl, still at Marie Wildey's dancing school in cornrows and pink tights, when I was first laid eyes on Jacqueline Broyer. This was long before all the ballet performances, pageants and maternal influence transformed me into the prima-donna I (sort of) am today. I was too young to fully comprehend the story-line, yet utterly fascinated every time Jacquelyn appeared on screen. She mesmerized me, regaled in all the gold, glitz, and glamour that epitomized 1992. Here was this intelligent, successful Black woman who was also every bit of a raging siren. It's an archetype that Hollywood has since abandoned but fortunately, no amount of Nicki Minaj's could ever undo the effect of a single Jacqueline Broyer on a girl like me.


In childhood, I would watch the movie Boomerang dozens of times, paying attention to every fine detail of her captivating presence. I studied her power dress. I noticed the bespoke-like tailoring of her suits and how she never appeared unadorned, without an ensemble of bold jewelry. Jacquelyn wore hair extensions and so do I. It became important to wear a lush, flowing hairstyle, reminiscent of Jacqueline when she walks away from Marcus, her mane billowing behind her. I studied the meticulous aspects of her beauty; the fierce grooming of her brows, and the way her nails and lips were oft the same tempting shade of red. And whether it was by chance or subconscious-repetition, over time I did learn to channel her, at times, quite well.

*on-air, bringing a bit of Jacqui B...

More importantly, as a woman I would date my own Marcus Grahams. Handsome and debonair men, like Miles*, whose entrance would be as swift and spellbinding as their departure. I came to understand more about men and their ability to smash hearts like old cigarette butts. And even though I had figured out how to channel Jacqui B's style, I'd soon realize that physical appeal was just a part of it. It was Jacquelyn's whip appeal that made her phenomenal.

In the movie Boomerang, marketing exec Marcus Graham is the poster child of what every Black woman is waiting for. Hence for him, dating is target practice and variety is very much the spice of his life. All is well in his love-em-and-leave-em universe until he meets his match, Jacqueline Broyer, the 'executress' who becomes his boss after a company take over.

"She's smart. She's beautiful. She's bad. She could be Misses Graham. I'm telling you. She's that bad."

Jacqueline is the first woman Marcus encounters who is seemingly immune to his magic. By the movie’s climax, Marcus finds himself in the same vulnerable position to which he's reduced countless women, and like a classic Samson and Delilah tale, the ensuing chase leads Marcus to his (temporary) ruin.

The movie leaves most of Jacqueline's life to the imagination. You know next to nothing about her past, where she lives or even why she's fluent in French. You don't know if she's a divorcee or if maybe she'd spent years of her early twenties getting over her own Marcus Graham or two, much like I and other fly girls have. You don't know from where her extraordinary presence comes, but you are aware that at some point Ms. Broyer must have conquered her own hiccups, hang-ups, maybe even break ups and still she managed to become one hell of a self-fulfilled woman.

When I seduce you, if I decide to seduce you, don't worry... You'll know.

Seductive women like Jacqui B aren't born. They are made. The seductress has an uncanny will to exude control over herself and those around her through appearance and force of personality. As such, she also has the patience and discipline it takes to get there. Behind the glamour, Jacqueline ultimate seductive trait is indeed her wholeness. Even a man with the most well-rehearsed game will fumble when confronted by a Jacqueline Broyer. She is a male fantasy come to life; supremely confident, brilliant and wonderfully sexual. No easy prize, there is a torch lit path to her affections and during the course of the journey; a man just might be made better. My...You'd have to fathom that Jacqui B even spent ample time becoming Jacqui B.



In spite of her fascinating joi de vivre, in the movie Jacqueline Broyer is vilified, much like Robin Givens was at the time. Her fabulously complex character is relegated to being a flat antagonist; merely a device around which Marcus' redemption revolves. Still, while most female viewers identify with a sweet-and-vulnerable Angela, who does ultimately win 'the prize', they'd also love to wield Jacquelyn's seductive power.... But let's remember, Boomerang is a love story told by a man. Director Reggie Hudlin already broke the rules of the playbook by revealing the type of woman that could render a man weak. Hence, the movie ending is a shameless cover-up, written to throw women off.

Too bad.

Adulthood for me has largely been a process of fulfilling my childhood fantasy of becoming Jacqueline Broyer. I've always felt that if I were more like her I'd be immune to the kind of heartbreak that has riddled my life since freshman year undergrad. When Miles *exited stage left, my Jacqui ambitions went into over drive. I lost the ten pounds I picked up in college, I lightened my hair two shades, changed my nail polish color, and indulged in so much retail therapy I had to juggle a bill... or several. And while I may turn a few more heads now (including his), I am no Jacquelyn Broyer. I am still in that crucial process of becoming the woman of my dreams. Reaching that supreme level of confidence in which perhaps I am not immune, but hopefully impenetrable to unrequited love.

I told a male confidant today that I was pulling myself out of the game for an undetermined period of time. He said it was the pain talking.

"Despite how tired you may be of what some of us are offering," he said, "you're not as cynical as you may portray to some in the coming weeks, months or however long. Tired, likely. But still wanting and willing."

Yes, man-friend has a point. But really, I need to take a minute to be wrapped up in myself. Every woman needs different things. The truth is, I take rejection very personally. Rather than rationalize heartbreak with inauspicious timing or the classic 'he's not the one', I'd rather tell myself, I am not fly enough. For me, fabulous is and has always been a form of control.


My idolization of Jacqui B began as fascination with all that glitters, but over the years it has morphed into a desire to rise above romantic vulnerability. You don't know what Jacquelyn did after the scene where Marcus finally chooses Angela over her, but you can't picture her somewhere wasting Kleenex on tears. If we are to get real about Hudlin's machismo romantic comedy, Jacquelyn doesn't end up with Marcus, but she absolutely wins the game. Don't get it twisted, she conquered and reformed a true player, and if she really wanted Marcus, she could have had him.

How wonderful would it be to have power in the boardroom and in the bedroom?

It's a feeling most women will never know, but for me, a worthwhile pursuit. Sure there will still be suitors that come and go, but when it comes to the high stakes romances, I'd prefer the romance on my terms. I'd like to initiate the chase; compel a man to sacrifice, put his heart on the line, endure pleasure and pain, anxiety and ease, break down and ultimately build himself back up-- a better man, all in order to win my heart. And truth be told, I wouldn't mind bringing a skilled, debonair player to his knees all in the pursuit of love. It could after all end in love, or at the very least, give him a taste of his own medicine. As they say.... Karma is a bitch. A fierce bitch.

Flyness and funk,
Ike

PS: Jacqueline vs. Angela? Who do you favor?

8 comments:

Mimi said...

Wow... this is a FANTASTIC piece of writing. I love how you analyzed this movie, which, by the way, was one of my favs back in the day. Yes, Jacqui B. was B-A-D! I liked her style and I can see your fascination with her style and poise and power. I love this article -- very well said. I must share it with some friends who, I believe, will be able to glean some wisdom from it. :-)

"Ike" said...

Oh Mimi. Def share. We could all use a bit of Jacqui in our lives! And its a great weekend to revisit a movie classic!

ashy2classy.net said...

Dope post and perspective. Cam up on our post through google. I actually have a whole serious called the Marcus Graham Chronicles where I even have a post called "Why Do I love Jacqueline's"....lol

Anonymous said...

As a man, I started to feverishly bash this piece of writing in order to defend "us", but i simply can't seeing as though I've recently been "J Broyered". Amazing work, kudos to you.

Anonymous said...

As a man, I started to feverishly bash this post, in order to protect "us". However, I just can't, I enjoyd reading your post. Eye opening to say the least, especially since i've been recently "Jacquie B'd", kudos to you.

Anonymous said...

This is a beautiful piece of writing. for me the ideal role model would be strong and seductive like Jaqueline but also have heart and concience like Angela- is it possible to have the qualities of both these women?

Finding FabYOUlous said...

I LOVE JACQUELYN BROYER!!!! AS A YOUNG BOY- INFLUENCED BY MANY STRONG WILLED WOMEN, JB WAS A WOMAN LIKE MANY I ALREADY KNEW... I WISH THAT BLACK WOMEN IN POP CULTURE WOULD PATTERN THEMSELVES AFTER A WOMAN LIKE JB, WHO APPEARED TO HAVE IT - ALL!!!!

Rubel Sisneros said...

Now I know why I've only seen this movie once before. It's, mostly, a very fun movie, but i makes me feel bad about myself, as a person, at the end...