Monday, October 25, 2010

For Colored Girls May Still Not Be Enuf

Here we go again...Tyler Perry bashing. It seems that whenever a Black producer makes a movie, whether good or not, the usual people climb on their high horses and start throwing stones. I often wonder whether his movies would do much better at the box office, enabling him to do a more broader type of film, if his detractors would tone it down and try to be more objective. At the same time they are bashing him they are not coming out with their own films, books or plays. It is easy to throw that stone when you don't see yourself walking into that glass house.

When I first started seeing advertisements of his plays back in the day, I dismissed them because they sounded ridiculous and made specifically for the Bible thumping COGIC, Baptist and Methodist Black church crowd. They all had one common theme...woman scorned or abused...resurrected by her faith in God. Nice thought but simplistic, often unrealistic and the acting just left little to be desired. His two TV shows, 'The House of Payne' and 'Meet the Browns' definitely raises both of my eyebrows. After spending the late '80's into the '90s watching 'Cosby', 'A Different World' and 'Living Single' showing African Americans as professionals as well as intelligent college students and entrepreneurs, it is sad to see buffoonery back on TV, played over and over, rerunning as if there is nothing else ever made. I don't like the images, albeit normal for some people, therefore I don't tune them in. Spike Lee said it best in an interview for "When John Singleton made Boyz in the Hood, people came out to see it. But when he did Rosewood, nobody showed up. So a lot of this is on us! You vote with your pocketbook, your wallet. You vote with your time sitting in front of the idiot box, and [Tyler Perry] has a huge audience. We shouldn’t think that Tyler Perry is going to make the same film that I am going to make, or that John Singleton or my cousin Malcolm Lee would make. As African Americans, we’re not one monolithic group so there is room for all of that." Let's remember that Spike was also criticized when he made his films, regardless of how relevant the storyline.

Perry's new movie is a screen adaptation of the critically acclaimed 'For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow Is Enuf' 1975 play by Ntozake Shange. If the book was so critically acclaimed, what is the problem w/doing a movie? Everything isn't always roses in any community. Perhaps African American dramatic writers need to write about things other than abusive people so that 'acceptable' material is available for movies. Even writers such as Terry McMillan have less than desirable male characters. As we live in our country with the first AA president, I am hoping we can begin to experience movies w/new material. There are science fiction writers such as Octavia Butler and Tenanarive Due whose books really deserve a closer look because they are FANTASTIC and w/technology their characters can now come to life. These are just two of the myriad of authors out there writing stories that could be silver screen worthy.

I plan to see the movie as Tyler is a talent and one of the ONLY AA's in Hollywood willing or able to put US on the screen even if the characters are less than desirable at times. It's a shame we still have to 'settle' some times, but we do it and don't make much effort to demand better. My hope is that Mr. Perry will get better as time goes by and I have begun to see a shift already. 'The Family That Preys' I thought was well done and had more than just US hurting US. I do hope we can look forward to stories showing AA men (and women) in a better light because I know plenty of wonderful normal men who aren't abusive...but does it make for a good story and will all the detractors go see it when it comes out even if it's bashed by mainstream critics? I will let you know what I think of the movie and how it represented the narratives in the book after I see it.

Until next time...

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