Warning: this is text rich. Grab some tea. Put ya feets up.
I’ve been torn over the last week on whether I’d participate in the conversation about Tyler Perry’s film rendition of For Colored Girls or let everyone else praise it to high heavens or pummel it to death without me. A large part of me feels like I should just let sleeping dogs lie. The only problem is this dog is very much awake & running ‘round the living room, waiting to be taken out for a walk.
A’ight, grab the leash.
Let me start by stating that I am NOBODY’s Tyler Perry fan. I wasn’t feelin’ him when his work resided only on stage and was admittedly offended when he brought [what I consider to be] that trash to the cinema. Colo’d folks flock to theaters like it’s a family reunion every time he drops. In a capitalist country dollars make the only sense so my opinion clearly ain’t hurtin’ the man. Tyler Perry’s name was enough to make me consider passing this film up. When I heard he was going to attempt this project 2 years ago the hairs raised on the back of my neck & I found myself baring my teeth like a dog about to attack. With rumors of Pariah Scary (Mariah’s name courtesy of the older sis) being in it I was all ready to lead protest marches & everything against T. Pain being allowed the rights to the original work. While Mariah was a’ight in Precious, she hasn’t proven to me that I need to see her in anything else. Ever. Still, after having seen the film this past weekend, the only concession I’ll make is that it didn’t suck, for a Tyler Perry film.
For the record, trying to put a choreo-poem featuring Ntozake Shange’s poetic genius to film is no small feat. In fact, I could imagine this being a challenge and a hardship for more experienced screenwriters and directors. T. Pain is not skilled at either
Sigh…thank goodness I put together a For Colored Girls (& 1 guy) Who Need Support When Watching the Movie Because Being Alone Wouldn’t Be Enuf group. We kept each other laughing, dissecting certain things as they happened & throwing the “is he effin serious?” side-eye up & down the row we occupied. The movie does a lot. A lot. That’s expected because the poems in their original form cover a great deal. There were times when we laughed (though not as often as the rest of the audience), gasped in horror, stopped breathing, rolled our eyes, &
While the cast was full of big names, not everyone came with their
Now, Phylicia Rashad is still my favorite TV mom but I’ve never been wowed by her acting after the Cosby Show. She ain’t bad but she doesn’t excite me. I feel often like I’m watching Claire Huxtable the remake. Perhaps that’s the downside to being in folks’ living rooms every Thursday for 8 years. In this movie though, Phylicia did her thing. Which leads me to the other…elder, so to speak. Whoopi Goldberg has always been controversial in that many can’t get past the way she looks to appreciate her. I often find things outside of classic descriptions to be beautiful. She’s definitely unique, & could certainly use a stylist, but ugly she is not. Talented, however, she is. Whoopi did such a good job that we wondered whether the religious cult she followed in the film actually existed, comparing notes on our knowledge of cults that black people might follow. We came to our intelligent senses but didn’t lose the point which is Whoopi played the hell out of that crazy woman. The other noteworthy actress was Macy Gray. Say what you will about her music but she hasn’t disappointed me on screen yet. If you’ve never considered what a drunken, tenement “gynecologist” might be like, Macy gives you something to imagine
Anika Noni Rose & Kerri Washington were also in the cast. Honestly, I left no more fans of theirs than I was before= neither moved or unmoved. I think both women have the potential, with more roles portraying round characters, to move past our “up and coming” to simply being astounding actresses. Now that I’m on these 2 women, I think now’s a good time to mention the abuse of the concept of 6 degrees of separation. Living in DC I’ve discovered that there are about .5 degrees between those of us here, and with the advent of Facebook I think we’ve discovered that we’ve all slept with each other in some way. Scary. & slightly exaggerated, but you get the point. T. Pain wore me out with this concept. In this manner the movie was a lot like a soap opera. Take General Hospital for instance. My grandmother lived by her afternoon soaps on ABC so I’m overexposed. General Hospital takes place in some city called Port Charles. This “city” has about oh…5 different locations: a hospital, a pier, a diner/boarding house, 2 mansions, & a penthouse. EVERYTHING that happens in the city happens at 1 of these 5 places & everyone knows each other & their lives are all intertwined. Somehow the lives of these women all occurred in a very small space where the 1 nurse, the 1 social worker & the 1 police officer came in contact with or was responsible for the 1 crazy woman, her 2 daughters and the 1 apartment manager that housed 2 very different women. The crazy woman managed to touch the hand of the dance instructor kinda like the way things went down in Denzel’s movie Fallen. 1 of the women in the apartment building worked for a character who happened not to live in their 4 block radius (Janet Jackson, who I simply CAN’T bother to discuss), but she eventually wound up on the block too.
Many things are possible in this life. Some of this just felt like…nah, son, not like this. See how everything segues into the next, yeah so, now we’re on to the male characters. Black men for the past week have been balking at the “ni&%as ain’t shit” concept they feel is prevalent in this film. Members of the support group came to the conclusion that T. Pain’s issues are simply being taken out on the viewing public via the big screen. The men in the movie, with the exception of 1, were horrendous people. HOR. REN. DOUS. The 1 who was good was so totally unrealistic. They were 1-dimensional at best. If not for real people playing their roles, those characters couldn’t have stood on prosthetic legs. Past that, I couldn’t see where anyone would bother investing any personal energy in these men being a quasi-representation of black men. I’ve had some tough moments in my life, could even relate
Having said that, it doesn’t negate that the men are portrayed in just about the worst light ever. If you though Mister in the Color Purple was bad, or that the unseen notion of incest tarnished the black male image, then it’s over for you based on this movie. Y’all really must not be shit. Can you taste my sarcasm? Now that we’ve got that moment of self-annihilation (in a group fashion) out of the way we can focus on something else. Tyler Perry clearly has issues with men in his life, himself as a man, & men in general as a result. That’s going to keep playing out in film because art is also therapy. This is where we have to be smart consumers. See, men in the book of poems by Shange are not at the forefront. They are memories of occurrences that brought the Ladies (of the rainbow) to the place they happened to be in each piece. I know y’all want desperately to be the centerpiece somewhere, but this work isn’t it: the original or T. Pain’s rendition. If anything, black women should feel set up after viewing this. I’ve never felt so much like I’m supposed to feel that I am inferior in gender & race & destined to live my life on my knees in a puddle of tears and mucus. Based on the way the movie felt [to me] the poor little girl above can hang it up. No happiness exists for her. "Po' lil guhl chile, bein' black & a woe-man is da worsest thang that could eva happen to ya. Us is destined to be do'mats so ya besta get usedta boots on ya back chile. Ya know ni&%as ain't shit, but das all we's got." Yeah...uhmmm...NO!
Anyway, my advice to you is to do what my 1 male friend in the support group did. After we finished choppin’ the movie up over things that end in ‘rita, ‘jito, & ‘tini, he walked across the street to the bookstore & bought his copy. In the end, I think everyone should go see this film to make their own judgments, spark discussions amongst groups of friends (please include men), & to encourage interest in going back to ‘kofa (sankofa to those outside the set) the original book of poems. Read for your self how the poems are supposed to flow, not the chopped up, incomplete poetic bits that ran derailed-train style into T. Pain’s own writing. Read for yourself that the poems are about getting up instead of getting knocked down perpetually on the strength of being black & female alone. Lets put Mama Shange back on the Best Sellers list. & while you’re out there, cop her latest work with her sister titled Some Sing, Some Cry, or anything else she’s done. That, to me, is the real purpose of this film.
T. Pain gets a "B" for effort & making something that feels a little more like a film. For him, it was beautifully shot...or maybe it was....whatever, it didn't look bad (despite his novice camera tricks. But the film overall gets a FAIL from me.
Thank you for your time & devotion reading all’ese words. Gon’ get your copy of some Shange literature, or any literature for that matter. JUST READ PEOPLE!! &, as usual…
Watch me move.