Mo Better Blues: Agency

joie-lee

A topic we discussed in class was the matter of agency in relationship to Indigo in the scene where Bleek comes knocking at her door in the middle of the night. And then again, her agency in the final montage sequence when Bleek tells his son he is done for the day and can go play. When reading the first scene, this can get hard to differentiate Indigo’s autonomy and Bleek’s will being subjected upon her. I believe a strong argument can be made for both sides, but since I am reading these two scenes together I have decided to interpret Indigo as in fact having agency in these moments, whether the audience agrees with her decision or not. First, as Professor Parham pointed out, is that the first scene (inside Indigo’s house/apartment) we are seeing discontinuous editing and cuts and I believe this can drastically affect one’s reading of the scene. Lee leaves out potentially a lot in these cuts, we do not know everything that is said and if this discontinuity is misinterpreted as continuity within the scene then it just seems like Indigo does not want him, Bleek forces his will and then she accepts his will. But the scene is not actually constructed in that way, there are gaps and cuts. The second danger of reading this scene as Indigo with a lack of agency is what it means to read it this way. The question of who is really taking her agency away, the viewers or Bleek? Although the viewers may not like her decision to forgive Bleek, ultimately it is her decision and we made to believe in the montage sequence that it is what she wanted.

But one may argue we see this pattern of a lack of agency again in the montage sequence supporting the original notion that she was subjected to Bleek’s will and not her own. Is the scene with Bleek telling his son he is done practicing really about agency though? Maybe out of context of the film it would seem this way since he contradicts Indigo, but because this film is referencing Bleek’s childhood, identically paralleled to the opening sequence, this ultimately is a matter of crossroads, a pivotal defining moment the Bleek recognizes and feels forced to intervene.Because this final sequence is so identically parallel to the opening sequence besides the defining moment of being allowed to play outside, it is clear this is really about the child’s development and avoiding the pathology that led Bleek to a tragic young adulthood. Indigo is represented throughout the film as having a voice, she tells Bleek when she is done with his behavior, she recognizes that he came back to her because he can’t play anymore but this does not mean it is not her own prerogative to forgive him. I believe there is a strong argument that can be made on both sides of this and if anyone wants to further my argument or go into the other side of it more feel free to do so.

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2 thoughts on “Mo Better Blues: Agency”

  1. Hey Nicholas, I think that this is a really interesting analysis of the two scenes. In the opening of the first scene you analyze, Indigo says that she had been writing and calling Bleek for almost a year before he arrives at her place. I think this is critical to the analysis of the first scene. It shows that she still has very strong feelings for Bleek, even if she knows she should not take him back. I think reading this scene with this in mind shows how, with Bleek’s persistence, she-using her own agency-takes him back because her feelings for him were too strong (this is Denzel, after all).

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  2. I think that your analysis of these two scenes is interesting, Nicholas. I was very conflicted while watching the final scenes of Mo’ Better Blues because on one hand, Lee is having us watch the beginning of a new family. On the other hand, the scene in which Indigo takes Bleek reeked of coercion the first time I watched it. As I’ve thought about it more, however, I’ve questioned who really had agency in those scenes. I agree at the fact that Lee uses cuts is important to our reading of the scene because they were a very deliberate choice to show the passage of time. We don’t know what happened during that time, but we do know that it led to Indigo making her decision. By not showing us what happened, it’s almost as if the film is challenging us to give Indigo agency in this situation, even if we don’t know what her thought process was.

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