Friday, March 26, 2010


Tyler Perry is set to write, produce, and direct the iconic theatrical play by Ntozake Shange "For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When The Rainbow Is Not Enough" into a feature film production.He has already cast the featured roles with such stars including Mariah Carey, Janet Jackson, Whoopie Goldberg, Elise Neal, Kerry Washington, Loretta Devine, Phylicia Rashad, and of course...Perry himself.
*le sigh*
        When I heard this news, my heart immediately sank, and not simply because I'm already biased against most Tyler Perry films. I was crushed for several reasons. The first, is that this play, is very special, and held in the highest regard amongst Black women, or cultured people period. "Cultured" not in the narrow-minded and elitist sense of the word but based in fact. Not all of our beautiful children of color in this country are exposed to theater, let alone to the voice, movement, and theatrical expression that is Ntozake Shange. Written in 1975, the play is a collection of 20 choreopoems acted by nameless Black women known only as colors, still holds deep relevance when acted across the Nation today.
     The second is that the characters embody feelings and experiences indicative to the essence of a Black woman. So many young women have read and related, or auditioned and become changed once introduced to the Ladies of the Rainbow. Their testimonies and monologues are universal to women of color and it is truly a joy to watch on stage. I know TPerry has built a mega-brand off cross-dressing and moonlighting as a woman, but the truth is that he is not a Black woman. Therefore, any immediate authenticity in re-creating the story is a Black male with controlling authority (writer, director, producer, street team etc. that is T.Perry). I'm rather doubtful he can capture the raw emotion and testimony as written by Shange.
         The third, is that given the track record... how can I not be nervous?? Of all the many T.Perry films I've witnessed, and I do believe I have seen them all, the two stand-outs were The Family That Preys (great film) and Why Did I Get Married (Good film). Reasons being the acting was great, the plot lines were relate-able and I found characters I could root for throughout the films.Neither of the favorites tackled serious drama or were to align with Tony-award worthy performances of a theater brand, like "For Colored Girls". "Precious", the most dramatic cinema project where Perry executive produced alongside Oprah Winfrey, left me more than unfulfilled as it palled in-comparison to the masterpiece that was the novel "Push" by Saphire. I don't want to sit crushed in the movies next spring, watching the credits roll, angry that a T. Perry caricature will be mainstream America's equates to "Lady In Purple".
        In no way am I "hating" on Tyler Perry but pointing out my fears of the mega-director. A director known for breaking box-office records while utilizing a formula that often lacks provocative thought, intense character development, or diverse image representation among his Black characters, and dressing in drag as the beloved Madea. I will forever respect Tyler Perry and his many accomplishments for all Black folk in media, film production, development, and ownership in particular. I'm sure I will purchase a ticket to his interpretation of "For Colored Girls". I just wouldn't be myself if I didn't issue my version of a disclaimer though, prior to my scathing critique.



1 comment:

  1. I do agree that Tyler Perry does bring a lot of humor to his subject matter and does not concentrate significantly on the dramatic aspects in his subject matter, I feel he does a great job in bringing black stories to the masses as a whole as well as those who only equate decent black cinema with his name. He is now a brand and although he doesnt do it all, he does a lot. I would love to have him bring this play to the the silver screen if just to have the sisters who have not had the opportunity to be introduced to theater get a glimps of the possibilities. This may be the spark to get more sisters reading the books, which by the way no movie could ever be held in comparison, and encouraging them to open their minds to more than the mind numbing idiot box known as television. I had the unfortunate chance to watch the local news and hear about Reggie Bush and Kim Kardashian i.e journalism has turned to trash. By accident, when my good friend was over I saw the bad girls club reunion show. More trash in astoundingly in its 3rd season with more to come and a trash spin-off. Several beautiful women with no direction that could use a good old fashioned Madea ass whoopin'. Last but not least there will be yet another upcoming season of RHOA. If this is what our sisters are referring to as great entertainment, I would rather have Madea doing anything short of slapping Jesus with a sex toy than encourage another episode of this rubbish women consistently support with a jiggaboo smile on their faces.