“Party-N-Play” by comedian and writer Sampson McCormick (BET, TV One, VICELAND) takes a comedic and interesting perspective on what it means to be a part of the Beyhive. The short film centers the identities of black gay men experiencing their lives. Blue is one of the main characters who is at the crossroad of wanting to live his best life, but also managing the responsibilities of adulthood. His friends and family find his choices to be questionable, but he continues to do what he wants despite the detriment that it may have on his livelihood. Aquarius, the other main character, lives his life as a free spirit, engaging in drugs and sex parties. They both stan for different divas in the music industry, and we get to truly understand what it means to be a stan!
I appreciate the contention created through the main storyline because we’ve seen Barbs and the Beyhive go above and beyond to protect, justify or set the record straight in a matter of seconds. With that being said, the story line fell flat for me. It didn’t feel relatable at all and felt a bit hyperbolic. You don’t understand until the end why it feels that way and by that time you’re kind of over it. Although I did have moments where I wanted Blue to get his shit together, I was also over him making bad choices over and over again, and parts that were supposed to be comedic left me cringing.
In one scene, two characters are laughing at the other and state “stop, you’re going to make him kill himself,” and then the laughter continues. I found that to be super alarming particularly as majority of the characters are black, which allows for the perpetuation of the stigma against black mental health. “Jokes” regarding suicide are never funny to me and I don’t think they should be treated as such.
What I found appealing about the short film however, is how they showed gay black men having sex and enjoying sex. It was beautiful to see them all exploring their sexuality in forms that defy heteronormativity. They did a great job at hinting towards some of the challenges that a person may face to be authentic in their sexual exploration; such as religion. It was also great to see darker skin folks centered in media, in ways that were not inherently violent.
Overall this film did not deliver on the comedy thriller it promised to be, as I did not find myself laughing, but rather disappointed at the unstable financial trope of black men that is overused. The “thriller” was not well received as it did not come off as believable, and did not leave me reaching for a blanket to cover my eyes.
I am not a gay black man, so this film may just not be for me, but if you have 44 minutes I think it is worth a watch to make your own assessment. You can watch the full movie here. If you enjoy films that are over the top, and a bit cheesy, then this might be the film for you.
For more information on Sampson McCormick, visit his website: sampsoncomedy.com
Follow on Instagram: @sampsonmccormick