This just hit me suddenly after reading a recent article in which Will Smith explains his lack of interest in onscreen love scenes.
2 of our biggest African American male celebrity actors have, whether currently, or previously, acknowledged an aversion to performing in love scenes on camera. First, Denzel Washington did so some years ago (I'll have to look for a quote online), with his reasons seemingly being to honor his wife, or something to that effect. And now Will Smith - whom I only just realized hasn't really done any love scenes. Sure, he's had a few fleeting flirtatious moments with his female co-stars - whenever he does have a comparable one - and he's exposed his torso from time to time... but he hasn't done much else!
What's up with that fellas?
Not that I'm exactly dying to see either of them in a no-holds-barred romp on screen, but, when you compare them with their Caucasian counterparts - those white male superstars that dominate our screens (Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, Mel Gibson, George Clooney, et al) - Denzel and Will are severely lacking!
I think there's something at work (and at play) here that needs to be brought to light - specifically, the subjugation of black male sexuality in American mainstream media. There's no reason why 2 of our most prominent African American actors - both with global appeal - rarely have love interests in their movies, or express themselves sexually on screen, especially when one considers that their Caucasian pals seem to be falling into bed with some damsel (in distress or not) on screen, more often than they don't.
Granted, both men claim full responsibility for their lack of onscreen sexuality, giving their own individual reasons; however, I simply can't help but feel that there might be something - some idea, or some person or people, of greater influence partly responsible here.
I think the longer each man holds out, the more awkward-looking any love scenes they eventually do will be, simply because, we haven't become accustomed to seeing them in that manner, and might actually giggle more than gasp in those instances.
Then again, I suppose Will Smith has never really positioned himself as the proverbial "sex symbol." He's played it safe for the most part, and I think that's one reason for his global appeal.
Denzel Washington on the otherhand was at one time considered a sex symbol, and I think he still is thought of in that way, but I could be wrong.
His reason for shying away from sex scenes, from what I gather out of all the material I've read about him, are mostly an expressed discomfort with them, but also his belief that they, in some way, dishonor his wife.
I just read an article in which Will Smith gives reasons why he is rarely involved in a sex scene on screen, telling reporters last Friday while promoting his new film, Seven Pounds,
My grandmother was really firm about how men are supposed to treat women... So for me, my worst nightmare is for an actress to... feel like I'm taking this opportunity to get a little quickie feel – you know, some legal cheating going on! I just need, specifically women, to feel comfortable around me... I just don't want to feel like I'm that dude.
Apparently, in Seven Pounds, Smith has an intimate moment with co-star Rosario Dawson, one which he expressed discomfort with; that is until his wife, Jada, gave him the green light to go for it, stating,
Jada said, 'Listen, I know you're uncomfortable, but you better not embarrass me... She said, 'When you do that love scene, you better show 'em what you're working with!'
So, one thing that's become clear to me after all this is that the wives of both men are of heavy influence on their decisions! Whoulda thunk it?
Come on fellas! Give the people what they want! Not only do we need to see more black faces on screen, we also could do with more expressions of "black sexuality" within the medium - especially in the mainstream.