The movie Queen & Slim has received mixed reactions amongst critics. Recently, Emmy award winner and producer of the film Lena Waithe and rapper Skillz became the center of attention in what looked like an online tiff over the film.
Thirty-five-year-old Chicago-born Lena is an actress, screenwriter and producer. She is best known for her role in Master of None and Ready Player One as an actress, as well as the creator of The Chi. In 2017, she won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series making her the first black woman to win the award.
Shaqwan Donnie Lewis aka Mad Skillz, or just Skillz, is a forty-five-year-old American rapper best known for his 1996 album titled From Where??? and his yearly wrap up tracks titled “Rap Up.” Skillz, who hails from Virginia, is credited for putting his hometown on the hip hop map since he was the first rapper from the state to gain national fame. He has collaborated and performed alongside artists like Pharrell Williams, Will Smith, Missy Elliott, Diddy, Chris Brown, Jay-Z, and Nicki Minaj.
Queen & Slim tells the story of two African American people who are caught up in a chain of events that occur as a result of a self-defense scenario gone haywire. A black man and woman who are later revealed to be Queen (Jodie Turner-Smith) and Slim (Daniel Kaluuya) go on a date and later on their way to Queen’s place are accosted by a police officer. In a sudden and tragic turn of events, Slim tackles and kills the officer who fired at an unarmed Queen who was reaching for her phone. They decide to go on the run after the incident but their reputation precedes them since the video of Slim killing the officer went viral. They both end up dead when the full force of the police descends upon them taking with them a young man and another officer.
The film remarkably shines light on the realities of black people in America today. In provocative fashion, Queen & Slim weaves a story around the truths of families and victims of police brutality, racism, and an unfair justice system. The movie depicts the circumstances surrounding the death of people like Eric Garner, Atatiana Jefferson, Sandra Bland, Akai Gurley, Trayvon Marin, Walter Scott, among others. The ending of the movie shows a realistic picture of how black people in America have to live in constant fear of the police who determine whether they live or not.
In an interview, Lena said, “…it was very traumatizing to hear about cops being acquitted and back on the force. It’s not the norm. It’s not normal for us to experience this in our own country.” It goes to show just how dire the situation continues to get with every passing day.
Skillz appears to have been discontented with how the film fictitiously brings out the experiences of black people in society today. In an Instagram post that has since been deleted, he strongly aired his thoughts about the movie stating that, “This movie was socially irresponsible.” According to Skillz, the climate in American society should not be heated any further with a movie like Queen & Slim. He also stated that the movie was not a good representation of black love and unity, but the harsh reality of being gunned down by a system they trust. Skillz was of the opinion that people do not need a movie to be reminded of the violence and hate perpetuated at black people.
Read first IG post in full below (DELETED):
I HATED THIS FILM!!! Did yall see the same movie I saw? Because I didnt see a cinematic beautiful love story at all. I saw a black unarmed couple get gunned down in the street!! A black woman made this? A black woman was responsible for bringing this into theaters? Yall thought this was cool? In todays climate? Really? Yall buying out theaters to see black people killed at the hands of the police? I dont need a movie to see that, it happens all the f**king time. Yoo @lenawaithe why? @msmelina why would you think this was ok? No silver lining at the end just death… a death that was/is very familiar of the times that we currently live in. This wasnt a love story. They didnt fall in love. They fell into TRUST based on the situation that they were in. And why did the kid have to shoot a black cop in the face and become a martyr!? He got violently gunned down too ( in the screener you showed it, in the theaters you didnt) why? You took that scene out …thought it was too much for us to see a black young man killed the same manner they always kill us? You showed us all this black unity to end it like that? Nevermind the fact that this idea was pitched to you by James Frey ( google him) who knows nothing of us or our culture. But you wrote it @lenawaithe you thought this was something black people should support? This movie was socially irrresponsible. I will never watch anything with your name attached to it ever again. I want my money back. Yall want black trauma to be a genre? I know one thing, if I was a filmmaker the one film no hollywood studio would let me make right now? One that ends in a mass shooting. Why? Because its too close to whats really happening in the real world. Everytime I see you I see the face of the person in the next picture. (SWIPE RIGHT) that is who you are to the black community. F?&k this film.
He has since recounted his sentiments and issued an apology on Instagram with a screenshot of a phone call between him and Lena, which lasted more than an hour. In his apology he said that his criticism of the movie was from a point of entitlement since Lena did not depict black people the way he thought she should. He wrote, “I wanted them to show me what I wanted to see…” He acknowledged that the film had so many layers, some of which he missed. He stated that creatives have visions for their work and they must not sugarcoat anything just to make people comfortable. He said, “As an artist YOUR vision is YOUR vision & sugarcoating it to make someone else feel comfortable isn’t always the case.”
Rapper Skillz recognized that he was wrong and urged people to go watch the movie.
Read second IG post in full below:
Yesterday I made a post about how the movie “Queen & Slim” made me feel. After seeing the movie I said & felt that I needed @lenawaithe to answer some questions cuz I was pissed. Well, @lenawaithe DM’d me and I gave her my number & we talked last night for over an hour & EVERYTHING I had to ask her about this film she answered it. I felt like I was on the phone with my sister to be honest…because in so many words I was. I watched her & @msmelina body of work and I wanted one thing and got something else. As an artist YOUR vision is YOUR vision & sugarcoating it to make someone else feel comfortable isnt always the case. I mean hell I wrote “Black Men Dont Cheat” earlier this year & caused an uproar & I knew exactly what I was doing 🤷🏾♂️. Once you put your art in the world? Its up to be criticized. I wanted them to show me what I wanted to see & @lenawaithesimply explained “its doesnt always happen the way we want it to Skillz”. And when I think about it? She’s right. I shitted on two black womens work because I wanted it to go the way I wanted it to go & was pissed when it didnt & for that? I WAS WRONG. I approached it wrong. She cant have a conversation with everyone but in her heart? After talking to her? I know she would if she could. That film had so many layers and shit I missed it in bro it may take years for us to pick up on em all. So wit that being said GO SEE QUEEN & SLIM & have an open dialogue about it. Im going again today. I made a friend last night on the phone, we connected in ways that only black people can & I assured her that my APOLOGY would be as LOUD as my disrespect was. She a G in my book for even talking to me on the phone. Our conversation was unexpected and beautiful. Go see QUEEN & SLIM.