Significant Moments in Black History: Jason was ready to risk it all when Lyric showed him a sunset for the first time
OPINION: In a tale as old as time, Jason was a chap whose world was small, and Lyric opened him right on up by having him risk his life on a dilapidated bridge.
Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.
“Jason’s Lyric” is a wild movie if you really think about it. Jason (Allen Payne), a troubled young man whose aspirations aren’t that lofty (largely due to his own demons) meets Lyric (Jada Pinkett), a woman who one might call flighty and perhaps a bit unstable, and because of her, he nearly kills his brother … who ends up dead anyway. There’s some other stuff that happens and a bunch of actors from New York attempt Houston accents and fail miserably. I doubt that’s the movie synopsis on IMDb, but I’m also not wrong.
“Jason’s Lyric” came out in September 1994, and I remember going to the movies to see it. This was back when your parents would take you to see an R-rated movie because they didn’t really know what to expect either. To this day, I still don’t know how or why I was allowed to see “Coming to America” as a kid, but it came out in 1988 when I was 9 and I definitely saw it in the 1980s.
Anywho, my absolute favorite scene in this movie is the one that I’m pretty sure features the most quoted line from this film. Let me set the scene and then explain some things. Lyric has agreed to go on a date with Jason after he has basically stalked her to her neighborhood. He quite smoothly says that he just wants to see her again. He even drops major game when he says that if she goes to church, he wants to be in the back pew because he just wants to see her. If she tells him where she’ll be, he’ll be there. So she says, “Come to this condemned structure that might kill you.” (A bridge somewhere in Houston). He is skeptical but is also like, “Bet.” When the sun next leaves footprints across the sky is the time she sets. Like Jason, I, too, was confused. Lyric is a poet, guys. All the deep women were poets in the ’90s.
Anywho, Jason meets her at the bridge — and she’s already up there hoping not to fall to her death. Jason climbs on up despite his reservations to sit next to her and watch the sunset. Now, look. Jason is 100% not the first man to risk life and limb for a woman. I’d wager that most men who meet a woman they genuinely like have done the same. And will do in the future. So he’s already a goner. And then Lyric does a thing that changes Jason’s life forever. She shows him a sunset and it turns him into a man with dreams, too.
Which Jason REALLY needs. You see, back when he was a kid, he shot his father, who was beating his mother. He took the gun out of his little brother’s hands. In one fell swoop, he shot his father to protect his mother and brother, two things that kept him from wanting more for himself. He felt guilty for killing his father and for taking his father away from his little brother who he then felt obligated to take care of. Joshua, Jason’s brother (played by Bokeem Woodbine) is a knucklehead who doesn’t like Lyric because Joshua can see that Lyric is putting ideas into Jason’s head. Josh ends up dead. Spoiler alert.
Josh ends up dead because he realizes that Jason has found somebody else to love and he doesn’t like it. Josh accidentally SHOOTS Lyric and then kills himself because Jason cares more about the maybe-dead Lyric than him. It’s really a tragic story. And it’s all because Lyric showed Jason a sunset and made him realize that, maybe, the world is larger than Houston’s Fifth Ward.
Lyric, using nothing more than God’s sun (no Nas), changed the entire trajectory of a young man’s life because he was in love with her. That, my friends, is power. That my friends is Black excellence. And that, my friends, is the power of a Black woman. Happy Black History Month.
Oh, and the biggest lesson I took away from this film? I’m glad you asked. I learned a long time ago that if you don’t want to fall in love with somebody, you can’t go feed ducks or look at cute things together.
Similarly, but not at all, if you don’t want to be compelled to shoot one of your siblings, you can never watch the sunset.
Panama Jackson is a columnist at theGrio. He writes very Black things, drinks very brown liquors, and is pretty fly for a light guy. His biggest accomplishment to date coincides with his Blackest accomplishment to date in that he received a phone call from Oprah Winfrey after she read one of his pieces (biggest), but he didn’t answer the phone because the caller ID said: “Unknown” (Blackest).
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