The Problematic Queer: A Cinema Trope By Chanel Hardy

As the night ends, I find myself bored with nothing to do. I grab the remote and decide to see what’s trending on Netflix. I come across a 90’s black classic, The Player’s Club. It’s been years since I’ve seen this, a movie about a young woman named Diana (Diamond) who turns to stripping to pay her bills and support her way through college. The thing about digging up old entertainment is realizing that what we once enjoyed for its raw imagery and non-politically correct dialogue, doesn’t hold up as well as we remember. In particular, this film features a character named Ronnie. Although her sexuality is never specifically mentioned, it’s pretty obvious that she’s a lesbian, or at most bisexual. Ronnie is the antagonist in this film, who gets Diamond a job at The Player’s Club and manipulates young women, including Diamond and her cousin Ebony into doing private parties and having sex for money. 

In this film, Ronnie is portrayed as a predatory rapist who sexually assaults Diamond and says some really cringe-worthy and gross things throughout the film. Many of these scenes play on the stereotype that queer women are predators, whose main goal is to “turn out” straight women and have their way with them. I recall not one, but two scenes where Ronnie’s preference for girls-only parties is portrayed as something disgusting and problematic, as if this isn’t normal for many sex-workers. While it’s normal for women in this profession to have preferences according to their level of comfort, it’s not exactly uncommon for women to perform for other women. I took most of what was written in this film with a grain of salt, considering the time period. Maybe in the 90’s, it was taboo to perform sex work (mainly exotic dancing) for the same gender. It doesn’t change the fact that nearly 25 years later it’s embarrassing to see these stereotypes in a movie that I once considered a fav. This isn’t to say that queer people are exempt from being abusers. Sexuality is irrelevant in that matter. But the issue is overly forced dialogue, mannerisms and harmful stereotypes.

And it’s not just this film. There was and continues to be an ongoing trend in films that feature queer characters with predatory and pedophile-like behaviors. Written and Directed by Ice Cube, it comes as no surprise that a cishet man would find a script like The Player’s Club appealing. As much as I love black cinema, especially from a decade that produced some of the most memorable pop culture references, we had so much to learn. The queer stereotypes were just a few of the issues with this movie. The light-skinned good girl lead and loud, slutty brown-skinned friend/relative has definitely run its course in black film. 

Regardless of how problematic many of our classic TV shows and movies are, it’s somewhat a black rite of passage to see this dark comedy. Which stars other household names like the late Bernie Mac, and other actors you might recognize like Jamie Foxx. It also has one of the most iconic fight scenes in black movie history. 

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Born and raised in the Washington D.C. area, writing has been a passion of mine since I was young. I started writing my first book, ‘My Colorblind Rainbow’ in 2013. In 2017, I decided to continue writing, taking a leap of faith and following my dreams of publishing my first book which made the ‘In The Margins Award Long List’ for YA fiction 2018. I launched Hardy Publications in September of 2017, working as a freelance ghostwriter, author, and literary blogger. I also use my platform to raise awareness for different charities and non-profit organizations.

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  1. Thanks for writing this post, Chanel. The use of stereotypes and destructive tropes in books and films is as old as writing and making films. If the history of Black and gay themed movies is of particular interest to you, I recommend the books written by Donald Bogle as well as “The Celluloid Closet,” by Vito Russo. The parallels that exist between the histories of Black and gay cinema are fascinating. Be well and stay well.


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