Southside With You merges politics and romance into one of the most dynamic love stories of our generation.
by Mikell Petty
If you’re still unsure of what kind of magazine this is and why we do what we do, or are new to the site (hello, new friends!) you may be blithely unaware of the fact that we here at Wear Your Voice try ruthlessly to get conversations going on the things we see in society that could use improvement especially as it pertains to the values of racial, socioeconomic and gender equality.
At almost the exact opposite end of the spectrum of all those ideals we hold so close here at this publication is another form of media we as a society often have a weird love/hate relationship with: love stories. Particularly of the cinematic variety.
Let’s face it: they are riddled with tropes of damsels in distress, snide comments (made usually by men) that often slip under the radar, and honestly just overall confusing storylines that essentially glorify this idea that all women need to be saved and that everyone is stupid until they fall in love and figure it all out.
In spite of all the ignorant portrayals of love throughout modern romance films, one recent film manages to completely turn this genre on its head and approach love using a story often untold or seen.
In a world full of upper-middle-class white kids trying to figure out life and all of its many confusing aspects, Southside With You manages to show real people doing real hard work, educating themselves and struggling to be heard and to enlighten others. Tough neighborhoods are not an uncommon settings in movies with predominantly black casts, but this one manages to paint a picture of the rich sense of community that’s fostered and often underrepresented in films.
Southside With You manages to merge the concepts of politics and romance into one of the most dynamic love stories of our generation. Thematically, it is a story of true love seen as mutuality. An understanding of one’s self in order to understand others, and vice versa.
One of the most stirring scenes in the movie is of a semi-impromptu speech — given by one of the greatest political-speech-givers of our time — to a small group of enraged community members who’re tired of being told no and wondering why it’s so hard to get funding for a community project that’s taken them months to get off the ground. In his speech, Barack offers a suggestion to try and turn this idea of “self-interest” into “mutual interest.” When you can understand the needs of others who may seem in opposition, you can come to a place where actual change begins.
In this same fashion, both Barack and Michelle learn a lesson in respecting and understanding each other and the people in their lives who may not quite understand them.
This film does a stupendous job of shedding light on the realities of accepting pain and struggle and the things that scare us or make us angry and turning them into something that truly works for everyone in a way no romance movie has ever done, in my experience. It’s almost a novel concept for a movie about love to be about about two people who are not desperate for each other, but desperate to find themselves and help others, and who learn that — as with everything in life — it’s something best done with support, love and respect for one another.
Don’t let the under-coverage of this film fool you into thinking it’s not worth your time; it’s one of the most effortlessly accurate portrayals of modern romance I’ve seen to date.
It speaks to so much more than romance or politics. It’s a love story that’s about something we can all stand behind; the truest form of love: respect.