It’s not common for the trailer of an obscure independent movie with no recognizable actors in it to make heads explode on the internet. But that happened over the weekend after the world got its first look at Loqueesha.
The film, directed by and starring obscure comedian Jeremy Saville, has a high concept that seems lifted directly from 1985: A white guy, played by Saville, needs a higher-paying job to afford his child’s private school tuition, so he decides to imitate a black woman, named Loqueesha, in order to get a job as the host of a call-in advice show on a local radio station.
He takes the job, it becomes a sensation, and the character must continue to do the exaggerated “black” voice in order to keep up the charade. The conceit is that the star, as a bartender, is naturally good at giving advice.
The website for the movie states that with “a diverse cast of breakthrough actors, Loqueesha takes viewers on an unexpected and thought-provoking journey that challenges society’s—and our own—conventional beliefs about identity and perception.”
Aside from not realizing that the radio industry tends not to give high-profile jobs to people without meeting them first, many have pointed out the offensiveness of the premise, which plays into tropes involving blackface and cultural appropriation many have thought had been left in past decades.
A one-sentence plot summary will probably let you know why Loqueesha is getting backlash.
— Shaughn (@Shaughn_A) May 12, 2019
It was also pointed out, by Philly Voice among others, the the plot of the film resembles a controversy from 2016 when a Philadelphia sports radio station, 97.5 The Fanatic, had a regular caller named “Dwayne From Swedesboro,” who appeared to be African-American and spoke in an exaggerated dialect, often about his troubles with paternity suits. Per Crossing Broad, “Dwayne” turned out to be a fictional character, voiced by a white station employee, although the host of the show, Mike Missanelli, claimed to not know the truth. In addition, an African-American friend of the employee, on an at least one occasion, appeared at the station presenting himself as “Dwayne,” and the character even had its own Twitter account.
The Loqueesha film’s YouTube channel lists the obscure company Indie Rights as the distributor and a release date of July 2019; it’s unclear if the film will actually play in theaters or is more of a video-on-demand title.
The website and trailer claims that Loqueesha was selected for the 2019 San Luis Obispo Film Festival, but the festival issued a statement on Twitter stating that “this film was never selected, screened, or given an award at our festival. The SLO Film Fest laurels were taken without permission and we are currently working to have them removed.”