Wednesday, November 10, 2010

May Black Woman Pain Films Now Die and Officially RIP

I suppose that there is no human being that doesn't desire to see themselves and their lives mirrored on screen in a way that gives voice to the things that happen in their everyday lives. The problem for black women is that our lives are generally only shown in a one-dimensional stereotypical manner that doesn't allow for us to be the humans that we are who experience life and its circumstances in the same way as any other being would.

During these production meetings it is if there is some 'wheel of torture' that is spun when people are trying to tell our stories and the only selections are PAIN, MISFORTUNE, NEGLECT, ABUSE, POVERTY, OOWB etc.  Do I think that it is always their intent to tell our stories from this point of view?  Yes.  I believe that there is always this intent because people have become conditioned and therefore accustomed to this being the only way that we [black women] can be seen on screen that we or anyone else will identify with.  EPIC FAIL! The motivation to continually portray and prey on us in this manner is a learned behavior and a direct product of them, like us, being raised on these type of films for years believing that these films represent all that there is in our lives.
Stellar Cast of "For Colored Girls"

Tyler Perry Presents: For Colored Girls arrived in movie theaters on Friday, November 5.  I went to the first showing in my area paying my $6.00 like the few other folks there who had the same idea I did (to get in and out quickly).  Trying to adapt the magnificent play "For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf" by Ntozake Shange for today's audience is an epic undertaking and unfortunately I don't think that it was done as well as it could have been done.  I don't know if Ms. Shange was not interested in adapting her original work for film but I think that she should have been the person to try.  It was an enormous fail for her to not have been the one to do the screenplay.

The actresses cast [loved them all] in this film are some of the most phenomenal of our time.  So when I hear laughing in a movie at inappropriate times... I know that not even the most stellar of actors can save something that was lost in translation.  There was not a enough back story for most of the characters to engage the audience into being interested in these women at a deeper level.  The transition from script to the original poetry was rough and distracting. Tyler Perry has been criticized incessantly for the lack of nuance in his films but to be honest a lot of his previous films didn't need it because most of them were the over the top slap stick variety meant for laughs.  This film needed to be more!  It needed to be all things and even nothing at times, in a way that relayed the greatness of life despite all its inconsistencies.

This movie brought men into the forefront when they really should have remained more periphery.  There are many reviews that criticize this film for being another male bashing movie because the film focused more on the pain rather than the empowerment of the women for making it through some difficult situations that involved men but also involved poverty, race, gender and class.  More resilience and less sorrow could have saved this film from becoming the drudgery that it was to me.  I left that movie feeling emotionally beaten down.  Pain is not all that there is to living this life in brown skin.  Hell, it is not even in the top five if you are really living.

Visually I thought that the the film was beautiful but it was not enough to keep this film from being yet another miss at relaying black women stories in a way that doesn't evoke pain and suffering as a mainstay in lives that are extremely diverse and far more interesting than the way we are written.  Can we tell our stories authentically without being chained to "black pathology" in a way that cripples us all forever?


  1. I KNEW I didn't want to see this movie. I knew it.

    Why is this so hard? Why is this sooooo hard? Decent writer+decent cast+decent director=good movie.

    How come this simply equation turns to advanced calculus when black women are involved?

    You know...Tyler Perry needs to just stop. Like...two years ago.

  2. "How come this simply equation turns to advanced calculus when black women are involved?"

    Sad but true and there is no reason for it.