The Negro in question, called simply "Man" (Issach de Bankole), is a handsome writer who has recently moved to Montreal in the hope of finding fun, fortune, and fame--not necessarily in that order. He finds a roommate in the studious Bouba (Maka Kotto), an afficionado of tea, jazz, and
Freud, and their cramped apartment quickly becomes the hub of an ever-expanding network of friends and lovers. Armed with an ancient portable typewriter rumored to have belonged to Chester Himes, Man spends the summer days polishing his come-ons and his summer nights sleeping with white women who
can't wait to find out whether all the smutty rumors they've heard about black men are true. In his spare time he writes a book called, of course, How to Make Love to a Negro Without Getting Tired. Man's women don't have real names either, but--in contrast to his own aggressively nonjudgmental,
all-encompassing moniker--they have designations. His main squeeze is Miz Literature (Roberta Bizeau) a wealthy, educated girl. She's mortified when her upper-class friends snigger about her sex life, but she's drawn to the exotic thrill of Man's blackness. The parade of other conquests includes
Miz Suicide (Miriam Cyr) a reformed junkie in love with the idea of killing herself, or at least in love with talking about it; Miz Mystic (Marie-Josee Gauthier) who spent too much time in the ashram; Miz Duras (Susan Almgren), who wants to talk literature; and Miz Oh My God (Alexandra Innes), who
talks dirty while she and Man have sex on the kitchen table. Then there's Miz Redhead (Isabelle L'Ecuyer), who resists being picked up while she waits in an endless line and Miz Feminist (Patricia Tulasne), who seizes the opportunity to denounce the patriarchal oppression inherent in cruising.
Each holds dear a different cliche about black men: they're brutes, they're erotic athletes, they're happy all the time, they have insatiable carnal appetites, they're helpless victims of white subjugation, they're in touch with their jungle natures, they're gods in human form. Oh, la la! Man
eventually finds time to finish his novel, nearly loses it in a fire set by jealous lowlifes, and triumphs in the end.
Based on the novel of the same title by Haitian writer Dany Laferriere, HOW TO MAKE LOVE TO A NEGRO WITHOUT GETTING TIRED is informed by the contemporary notion that the personal--and specifically the sexual--is political, and intends its observations to be trenchant, witty, and irreverent. But in
the hands of Canadian director Jacques W. Benoit, all they amount to is another set of cliches: black men are feckless and oversexed, white women can't resist the lure of black flesh, and white men are stupid, effete, and viciously jealous. Black women don't even enter the picture, except in Man's
barroom explanation of the hierarchy of sexual subservience, which begins with the premise that white men are on top, so everyone has to service them. White women come next, so they naturally look down the ladder to dominate black men. Black women are at the bottom of the heap, so they have to
service everyone. The film itself, shapeless and shallow, neither supports nor undermines this model. In fact, its naivete is both puzzling and disturbingly disingenuous; though it purports to explore racial and sexual stereotypes, it merely perpetuates them with an ingratiating smile.
Shown with little fuss in Europe and Canada, HOW TO MAKE LOVE TO A NEGRO WITHOUT GETTING TIRED's titillating title and advertising materials (the poster shows a black man under a sheet that appears to cover an impossibly prodigious erection) generated some controversy in the US. Some theaters
refused to book it, many newspapers (including the New York Times) refused to run its ads without copy changes, and the NAACP made a formal request that the distributor change the movie's name. (Profanity, nudity, sexual situations.)
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 1989
- Rating: NR
- Review: The Negro in question, called simply "Man" (Issach de Bankole), is a handsome writer who has recently moved to Montreal in the hope of finding fun, fortune, and fame--not necessarily in that order. He finds a roommate in the studious Bouba (Maka Kotto), an… (more)