Black girl magic, holiday style

It’s the start of the weekend chez Mezzo. Not only do I have another 3-day weekend ahead, but I’m taking most of Thanksgiving week off, too.* AND Mr. Mezzo has tomorrow off so he can power through some more of his NaNoWriMo project.

So, even though we’ve been keeping a good habit of getting the TV off between 7:30 and 8 PM most nights, to support our separate writing habits—me here on JALC and him on his NaNo book—tonight we made an exception and kept watching later into the night so we could enjoy a movie on our “Friday night.”

A picture of 5 main characters from Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Story: Jeronicus, Journey, Buddy, Gustafson, and Grandma. The words "Netflix Official Trailer" are superimposed over the image.
Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey

Four thumbs up: would recommend.

Not that anyone needs my push towards this. Plenty of other kudos:

  • The Root: “pure magic”
  • “bursting with energy and so much goodwill it ends up almost as irresistible as it wants to be”
  • Slate: “a yuletide fantasy, a perfect theatrical work of holiday escapism, and a welcome breath of fresh air”

There’s a lot of reasons for this praise: the talent-packed cast (Forest Whitaker, Anika Noni Rose, Keegan-Michael Key, newcomer Madalen Mills), the songs (by John Legend, Philip Lawrence, Davy Nathan, and Michael Diskint), the eye-popping art design and choreography.

But another element of the film that warmed my heart was to see a story like this—set in a joyous, fantastical, beautiful holiday world—that featured an almost all-Black cast.

Mr. Mezz and I have been consciously deepening our understanding of anti-racism and expanding our anti-racist actions over the past few months. But one of the pledges we made as part of the commitment to support each other’s accountability in this journey was to read and view expressions of Black excellence and Black joy even while we were engaging with white supremacy and the Black trauma white supremacist systems cause. So in addition to watching 13th together, I also shared Homecoming with Mr. Mezz.

Jingle Jangle is another delightful example of Black excellence and joy. As Aramide A. Tinubu writes for NBC News,

When a rare holiday movie features Black characters, the movie is either for adults or the characters tragic. This is a gorgeous, welcome departure.

Tinubu’s review is well worth reading in full, because she is able to unpack exactly how wonderful and rare of a character Mills’ Journey is—a Black girl who is brilliant and bold and still allowed to be a child and have joy. It’s a sharp contrast to the “growing up too soon” trope that way too many white filmmakers inflict upon young Black characters.

An image of Madalen Mills as Journey in the film Jingle Jangle. She is surrounded by a swirl of glowing letters and equations, symbolizing her creativity and imagination.

Now, it is an unhappy sign of our current culture that this movie’s content and cast is as revolutionary as it is. If the world were truly just and fair, this kind of movie would be much more common.

So in that sense, I both want to celebrate Jingle Jangle with every molecule in my body, and also imagine and wish for a time when a film like this one will be so much less surprising than it is today.


* I was gonna be taking the whole week off, but it turns out I need to take a training that I could only schedule for Tuesday the 24th. C’est la vie.


Image credits: Screencaps from the official trailer on YouTube. Do not distribute.

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