Let me start this blog by noting that I haven't seen Superbad, and this isn't a review of the movie, which I have heard is quite funny. The Superbad Syndrome I refer to isn't a critique of the film itself, but refers instead to the emblematic theme that is repeated in much of the the advertising I've seen for the movie: the longing of nerdy/skinny/fat/unpopular/poor guys for conventionally hot and desirable girls as a triumph of the spirit with which we should all identify. "Great," I thought as I watched the commercials. "The ugly guy gets the hot chick--again."
Whether its the King of Queens, Yes, Dear, According to Jim, Knocked Up, Beauty and the Geek, or anything starring Jack Black or Rob Schneider, the image of the Schlub and the Supermodel is iconic in our culture. Implicit in this image is the idea that it is natural and normal for all men to desire conventionally beautiful women, even when the men themselves are conventionally ugly. Vague, poorly articulated "theories" of evolutionary biology are utilized to support the assertion that every man has a biological imperative to seek a harem of 20-year old anorexic blonds with breast implants as a function of the need to reproduce their genetic heritage.
Strangely, such theories are rarely propounded to support the idea that women long for young, tall, muscular men for the same reasons. We rarely see movies or television shows in which wisecracking fat women or homely AV-club chicks get the hot captain of the football team--not unless their "homeliness" can be overcome by little more than removing their glasses and letting down their hair to reveal a beautiful swan.
And the idea that women might seek wealthier, more successful men with a greater capacity to be breadwinners and support families on the basis of the same forces of "natural selection" is roundly rejected; it isn't "nature" that inspires such preferences in women, but materialism and greed. The message is clear: men have a right to have standards; women do not.
As usual, this reasoning is taken to a punitive extreme with black women, who are routinely excoriated by "brothas" and "sistas" like Sabrina Lamb, who argue that black career women are "just too picky," because of their unwillingness to smile warmly at broom-wielding strangers on the streets of NYC.
Lamb does not explicitly explain what being "too picky" means, other than being "hell-bent on marrying a corporate brother" or failing to forage the "safe havens" where "good brothers" have allegedly sequestered themselves: "the barbershop . . . financial workshops . . . night school, political campaigns, sporting events or out on the back porch."
While BW who want to meet men must stop spending their free time hanging out with girlfriends, BM don't have to change anything about how they spend their discretionary hours--indeed, they don't even have to leave their backporches.
Lamb insists that a "good" BM is not hard to find--but she doesn't provide much substance to her description of what makes a BM "good." On the other hand, what makes a BW "good" is not her education, professional achievement or financial independence, but her "softness," and her willingness to skulk around barbershops and backporches hunting for a man (which hardly comports with traditional notions of "softness" and femininity, by the way). Since BM neither have to rely on achievement OR effort to be "good," that doesn't leave much more than the Superbad Syndrome to tell us what makes such men worthwhile: we are told at the outset that they are the protagonists for whom we should be rooting (see, e.g., www.encourageabrotha.com). Unfortunately, real life is not a movie or a sitcom--in real life, knowing what you want and respecting yourself enough to insist on it is simply part of healthy maturity.
For example, I never cared much about a man's income, but I cared very much about his money-management skills, frugality, and demonstrated ability to live within his means. These are important values to me. A large income, educational attainment and a successful career may be important values to other women, for perfectly valid reasons. My point isn't that women should also hold out for 20-year old blonds with washboard abs, or reject janitors and pudgy shlubs. My point, as always, is that our choices must be reflections of our own values, our own interests, and our own assessments of what will make us happy in life.
This is why I've never had a problem with a BW who, after thoughtful reflection, decides that her mate must be black, and is at peace with whatever the consequences of that choice may be. My only critique has been of sistas who (1) decide that their mate must be black, and then insist that their chances of finding such a mate are the same as women with no such criteria, and (2) waste precious life energy gnashing their teeth and tearing their hair over random BM who feel no such "loyalty."
When, as I mentioned above, that I could never marry a man who could not live within his means, I knew that living in America, that would drastically reduce the pool of otherwise marriageable men that I had to choose from--conspicuous consumption and keeping up with the Joneses is a way of life for most Americans. While I believe in marriage and recognize it's important role not only to individual, but societal well-being, I was also comfortable with the possibility that my particular standards might mean that I would not find the right "one," at least not right away. I was confident the time would come, and made sure to stay attractive, social, and above all, relaxed. But I was happy with myself, my family, my friends, and my career; my life was full--now, it is simply fuller.
I know sistas who prefer BM who have the same perspective, and they have nothing but my respect. Whatever your choice, it is right if you're at peace with it. If you're angry, frustrated, fearful, and feel powerless in the face of your future, it is not right. This is how the Sabrina Lamb's of the world can prey on such BW's insecurities: they never articulate precisely what these women are supposedly doing "wrong." They never point out precisely what they should be seeking that is "right." They simply create apocryphal tales of snooty gold diggers who only want "corporate brothers" and refuse to smile at "regular" BM.
In Ms. Lamb's "Superbad" fantasy world of ill-defined "good brothas" and hard-headed career women, smiling more and being soft are all that's required to get what you need. You don't have to figure out what you need first, and you certainly don't have to expect the men you encounter to actually fulfill those needs. Just stop demanding Jaguars and five-star dinners, and your blue-collar "Diary of a Mad Black Woman" prince will drop into your lap like manna from heaven.
Remember ladies--life is not a movie. In real life, you write the script, and must what qualities are "heroic." Don't serve anybody else's agenda.