Tyler Perry and Ntozake Shange

Turns out Tyler Perry according to Variety (which I thought was a relic of 1950s Hollywood) has been asked to produce the venerable Ntozake Shange’s For Coloured Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf.  Having been a theatre major in a past life and aching to see myself reflected in my passion I discovered this when I was looking for something to direct in my senior theatre course in high school, performed in For Colored Girls in college, and constantly revisited it for its unique assemblage of language while providing the empathy I needed.  So, you can imagine the state of my heart when my multi-life long love affair with this play took a heard when I heard Tyler Perry was going to get his grubby misogynistic hands on it.

I am so furious.  I am not even sure I can finish this post in a civil manner.  And worse, I am not sure that sleeping on this one and blogging about it tomorrow will make this easier.  So, I might as well do it now with the full fledged sails of rage behind me.

Tyler Perry hates women.  He does.  Look at the Madea series.  While she has endearing moments, usually, his work is so infuriating that I cannot even finish an entire film.  In fact, the only movie he has produced that I was interested in seeing was Why Did I Get Married?  However, the majority of his work traffics in stereotypes that are neither illuminating nor very positive about the Black community, my people.  Nor are they entertaining (See Meet the Browns or House of Payne).  Those are some of the worst shows I have ever seen.  Black women are always sassy, full of attitude, unreasonable, and/or an asexual big mama/prude school marm.  It’s the Black version of the Virgin/Whore dichotomy, it’s the Jezebel/Saint dichotomy, there are so many binary mutually exclusive boxes he plays with in his work.  Not to mention, he isn’t doing very much for Black Masculinity either.

AND WHAT IS WITH BLACK MALE ENTERTAINERS DRESSING UP LIKE BIG BLACK WOMEN?

EDDIE MURPHY AND ALL THOSE HORRIBLE CLUMPS MOVIE.  MARTIN LAWRENCE IN BIG MOMMA’S HOUSE.

TYLER PERRY AND MADEA.

Is there some sort of crisis of sexuality amongst Black men that I am not aware of?  Well, yes, but back to my rant.

In light of all this wonderful work, you cannot blame me for not being encouraged (no, that’s an understatement), for being incensed, livid, and incredibly offended when I read that this wonderful choreopoem which has meant so much to me and to plenty of women is on the verge of being mangled and violated by a sub-par artist.

If there was something I could do . . . Well, I am going to the Museum for Radio and Television and watch PBS’s 1982 production of For Colored Girls with Alfre Woodard (who does not get enough work!).

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3 comments

  1. Do you know if Ntozake Shange endorses Tyler making a film version of For Colored Girls?

    1. No, I do not know. However, I will investigate and get back to you!

  2. I have not found anything about Ms. Shange’s thoughts on the project, which I agree is a little strange that she has not been consulted.

    I did find this blog post at The Root saying that a little known woman director, Nzingha Stewart, was going to direct this film originally (http://www.theroot.com/views/colored-girls-who-dont-tyler-perry). The post also links to Clutch Magazine’s interview with Nzingha Stewart where she mentions being the director for the adaptation back in 2007 (http://clutchmagonline.com/lifeculture/feature/nzingha-stewart/#2).

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