art in all its forms

art in all its forms

11/7/10

For People of Every Race Willing to Fork Out Money For This Offensive Crap from Tyler Perry

 An artificial face, for an offensively artificial character, in an offensively artificial movie.

How dare the makers of For Coloured Girls bring Nina Simone into their stinkie kankatang? Tyler Perry has hit rock bottom here with this offensive crap. Here are the reasons why:

1. I know it's based on the 1975 "choreopoem" For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf by Ntozake Shange, but since when have we reverted to the practice of calling black people "coloured"?

2. Nothing in this film is inherently unique to black people. Perry's adaptation has turned something that might work on stage into something quite offensive. In fact, on screen, it all comes across as a re-reinforcement of black stereotypes: black preacher woman, black slutty woman, black bitter woman, black indie woman, black abusive husband, black virile rapist man, black criminals...and on and on, with dialogue that--when it veers from the original poetry of the play--is itself a stereotype. The irony is that Perry's target audience is mainly black people everywhere. The movie should have been called: For People of Every Race Willing to Fork Out Money For This Offensive Crap.

3. Homophobia. This one needs some explaining.

Once upon a time, when Tyler Perry first broke out, he was seen as an aberration. Here was a black man who appeared in his own movies in drag. Remember Medea anyone? Black man playing a grandma. Ha. Ha. How wonderfully liberal! some thought.

Then the films happened to us.  One by one they horrified us after his first big smash Diary of a Mad Black Woman--which incidentally had nothing to do with blackness or insanity.

For instance he cast Janet Jackson repeatedly in a series of forgettable movies that gave us a glimpse of his homophobic streak. Film after film, he presented black married male characters living straight lives who were actually gay. These characters were all treated as freaks: aberrations. For two movies in a row (Why Did I Get Married and Why Did I Get Married 2) Jackson played a woman in a relationship with a closeted gay man. Now, for yet a third time, Perry casts Jackson to do the same thing this time with characters not in the original play who are now specifically inserted by Perry to give Jackson yet another bite at the cherry (pun intended).

As you might expect, once more the black closeted man who is unable to come to terms with his sexuality is demonised: he did it all to hurt the woman and not because he was unable to come to terms with his identity. This time around, though, Perry turns up the offensiveness by adding another offensive stereotype involving HIV and gay people.

Janet Jackson's character coughs in scene after scene during the movie, then finds out that she is HIV positive. Suddenly, after years of being in a relationship and seeing her husband lust after other men, she realises her husband is sleeping with men. How so, you wonder? Why naturally because she has HIV and got it from him and he could have only gotten it from another gay man as we all know HIV is a gay disease.

The only disease here is Tyler Perry.

4. What is with the plastic surgery Janet? This is what she used to look like when the surgery was only mild:


Apparently not pleased with her black features, she now finds herself in a black movie in which her character bashes her husband for being true to himself by admitting his sexuality. The offensiveness is mind-boggling. People should boycott Jackson just because of the alarming message her face (see poster at top of post) now sends. I mean Michael overdid it too, but at least his music was good.

5. The disgraceful treatment of Nina Simone's 'Four Women'.

The trailer for the film has the song performed as a cover and takes the raw (supposedly 'un-commercial') elements of the original out. By the time the movie ends and the credits begin to role, Nina's version is played. For a moment you just want to forget the crap you just watched and listen to Nina. Then, the inferior cover version comes on! Bye bye Nina. The disgrace. It's a shame so many good actors are in this twaddle.

Nina Simone's 'Four Women':




The trailer for For Colored Girls:


7 comments:

  1. I cant wait to see your version, hopefully coming out soon.

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  2. Andre, the word Colored in the name has to do with the fact that they are women of colour and they are represented in the poem by a colour. Are you familiar with the original poem? If not have a look and you'll see.

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  3. I didn't take issue with the term coloured. Especially since it's based on a literary work and to just jump from the loveliness of the phrase "For coloured girls who have considered suicide when the rainbow is enough." to something perhaps as banal as simply saying Black. The way I see it, it's poetic and creatively both Shange and Perry have that right.

    I think also that Janet Jackson's evident plastic surgery plays well into the context of the film -- Coloured Girl issues. I thought she was well cast. As was everyone else I think.

    Of course the issues presented aren't unique to Blacks. They're ubiquitous. They're everywhere. But this was about Coloured Girls - a voice for them. I thought that was the beauty of the film too; coloured girls everywhere, across the spectrum, coming to terms with what is destroying them.

    At the end of Four Women, Nina Simone screams, “My name is Peaches!” The first time I heard it, I was instantly baffled. When I think about Newton’s character Tangie though, something makes sense. To me at least.

    As a “coloured girl” who has experienced and is still grappling with some of the heaviness of the issues presented in the film, I thought it was quite good. I found myself finding veins of awareness, consciousness and recognition. I wasn’t at all offended. Even if I take the perspective of a person who isn’t Black –as you say the issues are not unique and therefore don’t make me squirm with ethnic affront.

    My bit of thought.

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  4. I have been trying to gather my thoughts about this movie since I saw it.
    I begin by saying that I am a black West Indian man. I also say that I think that the reviewer's analysis is spot on and coincides with what were quite instinctive reactions to features of the movie.
    I am not at all familiar with the poem which was adapted for translation to the big screen so I am not au courant with the motivations of the poet. All I have to go on is how the material was interwoven into the film. The reviewer correctly identifies that as an area of difficulty in the film. There is a constant stream of disconnection and "misapplication" almost of the poetic material into the sorry characters which Tyler thrusts on us. Which brings me to the core concern that I have.
    What this movie is really all about is "self hatred". It is set in the context of the experience of black people so let's address that on its merits.
    What makes this film difficult material for us as West Indian people I think, is that our experience and history is not the same as the African American's. The sooner we admit that the better. Legal racial segregation and discrimination came to an end officially in the United States in the early 1960s. Our separation from those varieties of oppression came much earlier. Accordingly, their wounds are much fresher than ours. Their self hatred which apparently has them trapped in generational patterns of self flagellation and self destruction, is much more obvious than the variety of self hatred we practice.
    So, for example, I found myself staring at the screen in disbelief at the mother who (being educated, and the sole bread winner in a household inhabited by an unemployed war veteran) could have allowed herself and her children to endure several rounds of physical and other abuse, culminating in the murders of her young ones. I disbelieved the helplessness.
    Similarly, it is self hatred which is made manifest in Perry's treatment of the gay man and his interaction within the marriage to Janet Jackson's sorry character and her interaction with him.
    Overall, a movie with deeply offensive overtones and undertones that begs the bigger question "why does Perry feel he needs to continue to make these films".........Oh gosh, where is the stylish Spike Lee?

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  5. I think the phrase "coloured" was at one stage acceptable in the play because: 1) it was the 1970s arguably before all quarters had regarded it as politically incorrect to call black people coloured

    2) the word is a play within the play: the characters in the stage version are literally named after colours and thus the play mocks the convention of calling black people "coloured" by literally showing this artifice.

    However, it is now 2010. This film has come along after so much!

    3) To call a black person "coloured" is in my view offensive. It suggests that black must be subject to euphemism, toned down, moderated and made palatable and acceptable.

    Tyler Perry's film does not maintain the tradition of 2) and clearly has no grasp for 3).

    I appreciate Bri's insightful comments about Janet Jackson, though I disagree about the motives behind her casting. I see how you could grow to like the original phrase too, but maintain that that the title of the play was in a very specific dramatic and social context.

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  6. the movie really has NOTHING to do with gay...interesting that your focus is there....the message always with Perry is the reality of black americans - in this instance black women. It is powerful and blatent even though Perry is not a sophisticated film maker but who says you have to be to tell a story of another's reality....hats off to Perry in my opinion......

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  7. I may not see the movie, but I want to say that Nina Simone's song Four Women is a very poetic, beautiful, haunting and powerful song...it is also my fave piece of music.

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