Sunday, November 7, 2010

For Colored Girls and the Demonization of African American Men

For-Colored-Girls-When-The-rainbow-is-enuf-3-9-10-kc

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse UniversityScholarship in Action 

I went to see "For Colored Girls," the exciting new film made by the great Tyler Perry.  I love Tyler's work, most of the time, and I've defended him on multiple occasions when he's come under attack for the nature of his films.  Spike Lee is one particular Tyler Perry hater that I've taken issue with, primarily because I think that Tyler does more good than harm in the industry.

But as much as we love Tyler Perry, all voices must be portrayed when responding to his style of film making.  My own voice became amplified after seeing "For Colored Girls," primarily because the film made me damn near embarrassed to be a black male.  Let's go down the list shall we?  The black men in the film consisted of a rapist, a thief, an abuser who murdered his own kids, a pimp, and a brother on the down low.  Now, Hill Harper had the distinct honor of being the knight in shining armor, but he was the only ray of goodness in the terrible rainbow that represents the experience of the black woman in America.

I wonder what I would think if I were a non-black person watching this film to get a sense of what happens in the African American community.  Well, first I'd conclude that most black women are well-balanced, fair and emotionally giving to men who simply don't deserve it.  I would then think that a small percentage of black men have the capacity to do good things, but that most of them will steal from you, deceive you, rape you, cheat on you and do all they can to provide irreversible and unthinkable pain to those who love them the most.  I can just hear one of the white women in the theater saying,  "Those poor black women.  Why in the world do they remain loyal to those horrible men?"

Perhaps Tyler needs to make a sequel to his film titled, "For Colored Men."  In the film, we would portray the millions of black men who do the right things and end up being demonized for not doing the right thing in the right way.  Perhaps we might tell the story of the man who doesn't want to get married, but is pressured into marriage by a community that will force a man to do something that he knows he can't do very well.  We can also tell the story about the gay black men who go to a church which tells them that if they pray hard enough, the homosexuality will leave their body like the 24-hour flu.  We can cover conversations where some black women repeatedly state that if a man doesn't make enough money, he doesn't deserve to have access to her (as she dates the man with a lot of money who breaks her heart).

We could also tell other stories, like that of the good men who pay extra child support to take care of children who are not their own or those who fight to  make a marriage work with a black woman who refuses to hear that she may also play a role in the breakdown of African American families.  Finally, we can tell the story of the millions of men who may not always behave exactly as women ask them to behave, but are good, caring human beings nonetheless.  The moral of the story would be that black men are human too, and that both genders are inclined to make bad choices.

I admit that I've seen "For Colored Girls" in the past in the form of other movies.  The films were called "Waiting to Exhale" and "The Women of Brewster Place."  In both films, there was one story after another of why black men are responsible for the misery of black women.  Also, there was a gathering (you know, a party or something) in which the women worked through the horrors that the men in their lives had caused them.  Perhaps one day, we can get past the notion that black men have a monopoly on demonization and realize that it might be more complicated than that.  Simplistic plots to tell a complex story just don't always work.  Tyler, as much as I respect him, can be the master of simplistic plots and characters.

I still love Tyler Perry and I still support his role as a film maker.  But with this latest project, he seems to send a message that his films are for colored girls only.  I look forward to the day where black men have a voice, for we have stories to tell too.

80 comments:

Anonymous said...

sir, the choreopoem "for colored girls who have considered suicide when the rainbow is enuf" is a wonderful read and I suggest you get a copy so that you can form a fuller opinion. saying you've seen this work of art in the form of other movies when you have clearly not seen it on stage is belittling to the origin of the play and wrongly credits tyler perry. i am not a fan of his work, and this piece was not his conception. i feel compelled to clear that up. also, this piece was written for women of color as a tribute to their strength, which societally they need now more than ever. i think the message that women can do better for themselves than thieves and thugs is both relevant and necessary. women are the unnoticed leaders of society and when we learn to expect better, we will teach our sons to BE better. no doubt you have some strong women in your family who have taught you to rise above, but unfortunately many men are not as enlightened as you are. one in three women in this country is raped before she is 30 and the majority of rapists are not serial rapists. I'm not great at math but I think that adds up to a lot of ugly skeletons in a lot of men's closets. every woman I know has had a man either cheat on her, lie to her, steal from her or rape her - and no, they were NOT all BLACK men OR women, but the ability to connect to this movie is not based only on race.

Anonymous said...

Then why don't you write the sequel or sit down and write to Mr. Perry to see what was his point on putting black men out there like that. One of the reasons why we as black men and women are so far from each other is we dont communicate,we so quick to judge and point the finger without finding an deeper understanding within each other to see why we do the things we do. So communicate with Mr Perry and get an better understanding as to why the movie was focused on black men the way it was. Key word: COMMUNICATION

Tony McClean said...

What's even more disturbing is that another black man is perpetuating this black male bashing....We all aren't perfect...But the misrepresenting of us as a whole is very troubling and sad

Brandy said...

Where do I begin? Unlike other movies where TP had absolute poetic license to craft the story, this was not the case for the movie. And I know that you are old enough to KNOW that this movies was adapted from a play. What Tyler did was give a face to the men identified in the play. In fact it was his idea to insert Hill Harper to try and balance the faceless voiceless men in the play.

Michael Ealy's character was exact from the play, Anika Noni Rose's issue was simply amplified from her peom of what hapepened to her. What exactly did you want him to do with the movie, create an entirely new plot from the poems despite their subject matter.

And for the record, the problem always begins when we train ourselves to give a damn about what white people will say. These are the same people who applauded Precious, a movie about a big fat black girl who the only good people in her life were light skin or white people. Where was the disdain for that apsect. No we got crtiticms of black people because we were told that didn't embrace a story that needed to be told because of the way she looked. When the reality is White people seek to jump on ANYTHING that we have a negative view of.

Furthermore, white folks don't lok at their movies and feel ashamed because we may think their drunks, nasty, rapists, crass, gay, evil etc. Thus why i the hell should we care what they think. Also, lets not fool ourselves, white people know the damn difference but as long as WE allow them to get away with allowing 1 thing to characterize an entire race, why would they stop? Its been working like a charm.

Your argument about feeling bad for Black women flies in the face of the TRUE fact which is why the movie needed to be told now. That is that white men or women feel any kind of respect for Black women. The don't feel sorry for us. In fact, its them who have amplified some criticisms from black men that we are undesirable, angry, not loyal, attitudinal etc. White women can't possibly feel any way about black men since they still are the most preferred while Black women get shoved to bottom of the heap with Hispanic and Asian males. All the while the white man continues to creep around as he always has to bed you down.

So please spare your rhetoric about this movie. Furthermore, since you are such a TP defender, then you know that mosy of his movies show that the man was the rich guy and the good brother that gave the woman trues love was the down to earth brother with a REGULAR job. Daddy's little girl showed a good father and a snooty black chick and the Family That Preys showed the consequences of Black women striving so high they forget about the good men they have.

STOP PERPETUATING THIS NONSENSE. Finally, our community can't possibly be doing a good job of making a man marry even when he isn't ready considering 42% of black women have never been married. But the moral of that story is if his butt ain't ready quit making babies and having sex.

Anonymous said...

Where do I begin? Unlike other movies where TP had absolute poetic license to craft the story, this was not the case for the movie. And I know that you are old enough to KNOW that this movies was adapted from a play. What Tyler did was give a face to the men identified in the play. In fact it was his idea to insert Hill Harper to try and balance the faceless voiceless men in the play.

Michael Ealy's character was exact from the play, Anika Noni Rose's issue was simply amplified from her peom of what hapepened to her. What exactly did you want him to do with the movie, create an entirely new plot from the poems despite their subject matter.

And for the record, the problem always begins when we train ourselves to give a damn about what white people will say. These are the same people who applauded Precious, a movie about a big fat black girl who the only good people in her life were light skin or white people. Where was the disdain for that apsect. No we got crtiticms of black people because we were told that didn't embrace a story that needed to be told because of the way she looked. When the reality is White people seek to jump on ANYTHING that we have a negative view of.

Furthermore, white folks don't lok at their movies and feel ashamed because we may think their drunks, nasty, rapists, crass, gay, evil etc. Thus why i the hell should we care what they think. Also, lets not fool ourselves, white people know the damn difference but as long as WE allow them to get away with allowing 1 thing to characterize an entire race, why would they stop? Its been working like a charm.

Your argument about feeling bad for Black women flies in the face of the TRUE fact which is why the movie needed to be told now. That is that white men or women feel any kind of respect for Black women. The don't feel sorry for us. In fact, its them who have amplified some criticisms from black men that we are undesirable, angry, not loyal, attitudinal etc. White women can't possibly feel any way about black men since they still are the most preferred while Black women get shoved to bottom of the heap with Hispanic and Asian males. All the while the white man continues to creep around as he always has to bed you down.

So please spare your rhetoric about this movie. Furthermore, since you are such a TP defender, then you know that mosy of his movies show that the man was the rich guy and the good brother that gave the woman trues love was the down to earth brother with a REGULAR job. Daddy's little girl showed a good father and a snooty black chick and the Family That Preys showed the consequences of Black women striving so high they forget about the good men they have.

STOP PERPETUATING THIS NONSENSE. Finally, our community can't possibly be doing a good job of making a man marry even when he isn't ready considering 42% of black women have never been married. But the moral of that story is if his butt ain't ready quit making babies and having sex.

Anonymous said...

As I respect your opinion and subjective blog. Take time to Watch full episodes of The View at http://abc.go.com/watch/the-view/SH55... segment where Tyler Perry talks about working with Whoopi in his new film For Colored Girls & the expected backlash (which he explains that he had to add a positive character, played by HILL HARPER because Perry stated "I couldnt' do this to my brothers". One thing you should know, The awareness was there Dr. Watkins.

BWC said...

I don't have time to tell my story I gotta go to work in the morning. And the other brothers won't have time to tell their stories either cause they are too busy working and providing for their families. Please don't let that movie up set you. It doesn't bother me. OHH he also left out the part about the group of about 5 to 8, 40 something lonely Black women (talking about us brothers) at your local Red Lobster WITHOUT a man.

Anonymous said...

I ALSO RESPECT AND ADMIRE HIS WORK (T.P), MAYBE HE SHOULD DO A MOVIE/BOOK ABOUT THE WELL KNOWN BLACK MAN WITH THE PACKAGE WHO WAS TOSSED BY OPRAH FOR GAYLE. GO MAN.

Anonymous said...

Lamour--We must remember that the movie is produced from Ntozake Shange's original choreopoem of the lives of 7 black & mixed women known by the colors they wore. Perry could not go too far from the characterization of... the women in Shange's original work without his movie losing its authenticity & being a total discredit to her work. I believe in an effort to portray Black men favorably, Perry introduced Hill Harper and his wife as the eighth woman who was in a strong and healthy marriage. Harper portrayed the perfect understanding, caring, patient, and loving husband. In my family, my grandfathers, father, uncles, and my son have been examples of family men of integrity and strength. Unfortunately, I have known of men--not just black men- who exhibit the characteristics of at least 3 of the types depicted in the movie-Loretta Divine's friend is one I have seen several times---men who consistently perform disappearing acts when convenient and seem to be unable to commit to anything but personal satisfaction. Of course, most women are familiar with the man who only wants a one-night stand.......repeatedly. And then, we all know of spouses who are unfaithful to their mates, bringing home HIV and other STD's. Because the original work involved Black & mixed race women, Tyler depicts these same women; but in reality, he did a global characterization of bad relationships that are applicable to any racial or ethnic group. The beauty of the rainbow is the community of women who are there to support and love each other and help make their hardships conquerable. The women move beyond their pain in this community. The laying on of hands is the healing offered that helps each woman to find her treasure at the end of the rainbow.

Anonymous said...

It seems that you are comfortable and defend Tyler Perry when he creates films that make Black women into buffoons and clowns. However, when he turns the camera onto Black men and exposes some of the oppression that far too many Black women are experiencing at far too many Black men's hands, you are willing to cry out against Tyler Perry.

For nearly a century, Black women have remained submissive and silent as rich Black men have created music with miscogynistic lyrics and films that make them into buffoons -- this goes all of the way back to the Blues -- but there is no outcry from among Black men. Some types of Rap music and these films have made many many Black men rich off of exploiting Black women.

Yet when anyone, including a fellow Black film maker says, "Time Out", suddenly you and others pitty the "hurt" Black man who needs to be able to do whatever he wants without consequences or criticism?

Then, when Black women begin to project the truth in their songs, films and literature, we demonize them for "getting out of their place". This is all too absurd to even speak of.

Anonymous said...

It will never happen and if it does the actors will be rappers and or athletes who are privileged to have access and opportunity. We as Black Men will never pay our debt to society. Never. We will always be vilified in ways that no other people on earth, even from our own. Black Women are soooooo valuable and their stories need to be told. I just challenge not only Tyler but other movie makers to make movies about real Brothers, but you and I both know the theater will be empty. "Real" "Middle of the road" brothers who at least try to do the right thing aren't marketable. I was at work talking to some educated attractive sisters and I asked them what exactly they wanted in a man. They said a "Sweet Thug" "A Bad Boy that goes to church". I was silent. I really didn't realize how warped the perception of some of our sisters are. They said nice guys are week and good guys are boring. They said we'll wait until we are older to find someone like that. I guess they are just colored girls who consider thugs when a good man is really enough.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Watkins,
Obviously, you didn't listen to Tyler Perry's interview on TJMS. He pointed out that he added Hill Harper's role because he didn't want to portray all black men in a negative light. I don't think the point of the movie was to portray black men negatively, but shed light on some of the struggles of some women. Everyone knows that abusers, rapist, etc. are not isolated to the black culture/community.

Lafayette said...

I haven't seen the movie yet and certainly plan to. I can certainly comment though, because you touch on valid points with relationships in general. Now, as I write this, I just finished watching the Real Housewives of Atlanta with my wife, so your post further awakens the beast in me. There was a scene in which one of the women was complaining that the guy in whom she has an interest is staying at a Holiday Inn, only to be advised by Kim to dump him because he does not have "any money".

Your post exacerbates this psychosis of many women (not all mind you) who believe they should have more, more, and more. What I see is a deeper issue with the movie and the current state of popular television and music. We are so damaged from our past and in most cases have not adequately addressed that we create these delusions to help temper the pain. Virtually all of our pain, especially, for Blacks is steeped in what we saw, experienced or felt as a child; these images and perceptions shaped who we are today.

Boys were taught to be "playas" at a young age. Girls were taught to "attract men" and manipulate. Yes, this is true and these are behaviors we were taught. Why? Feelings of inadequacy, not feeling good enough, feeling abandonment, violated, you name it. Therefore, boys who were abandoned grow to abandon women and the cycle continues.

It is now 2010, and as a 46-year-old Black man, I have a much better grasp on WHY men behave the way they do, and for that matter women too. It is our collective IMAGO that we do not know how to process and learn from as we make decisions. If your father or mother was critical, you are likely critical. If your mother was controlling, and your man strays, it could very well be because HIS mother was controlling. The irony is that he will likely run into the arms of another woman who behaves the same way, except he won't see it because she might put it on him so he will come back.

We have issues and the biggest disservice is to not simply be brutally honest, and "get naked" and show vulnerability. We talk a lot about being accountable, but being accountable is painful and frankly hurts like hell. However, when you can say to your woman, "I am afraid" or "I don't know how to trust, but want to" and conversely for her to make him feel safe with his vulnerability. So, the Tyler Perry movies are about pain, and to be sure, the unresolved pain of what we Blacks in this country avoid. This avoidance leads us to medicate ourselves with vices that tend to be unhealthy and costly (e.g. drugs, sex, gambling) to make us feel better about ourselves. That's my take on this film even though I have not seen it yet.

Anonymous said...

Ntozake Shange is the originator of the "For Colored Girls" narrative. Tyler's input, for the most part, was incidental to the foundation set by original material. As a matter of fact, he wrote the knight-in-shining-armor-Hill-Harper character, who you deem the only ray of black male goodness...as a counterpoint to the negative male imagery. That said, it seems the blame for your concerns does not lie completely on his shoulders.

There is so much of significant value in this powerful film. While it may not be perfection, what movies really are?

Nickname unavailable said...

Boyce,
I have read your blog often and often I am in complete agreement with you. This time I have to say that I think your review of the film does not address that this is a film adaptation of a choreo poem written by Ntozake Shange which was very popular in the 70's. I saw this play myself 8 times and it never ceased to move me. Don't worry about what white people think about why we stay with such men. We don't always stay with such men and Ntozake showed that. But this is her story and Tyler did a great job of bringing it to the screen. White women have the same issues. Just watch three episodes of Sex in the City and you will know what I mean. Tyler Perry did not write the underlying book. He did a beautiful job of adapting it and he gave employment to more fine black actors than anyone in Hollywood has ever done. As an economist, You should appreciate the value of putting money back into black hands. You missed the mark on this one. I am married to a positive black male. I don't care whether white women know that. I know it. Why do we have to prove that there are positive black males in our community. Because these experiences are painful, they are no less deserving of being shown to the world. Write your own story about positive black men. But don't force Tyler to tell a story that it sounds like you could write yourself. Tell your story. Ntozake's story was not about that.

Anonymous said...

Firstly, the book/novel that it was based on is a recognized classic, a serious part of the Black canon. Tyler Perry, was simply bnot the preson to make this movei. Not to denigarte him, there is and should be a place within the Black arts comunity for movie makers like him, but simoly stated, given the nature of the type of entertaining movies he makes this was source material that was not served well by him or by anybody else of his ilk who makes the lightweight type of moveies he does. Even what he did to the title serves as evidence of exactly how in depth and respectful of the source material he would be.

Secondly, you want a respnse to the original book? the movie/ Grab a pen and start writing.

I find it curious that you are so supportive of the blatant misogony, racism and simple-minded minstrely embodied in most hip-hop / rap, yet dismissive and defensive when somebody Black (Shange) expresses a reality that differs from that found on pop radio/TV. Or are you just trying to be "hip' when you support the continual Uncle Tomism's of most mainsteam rap and hip-hop?
Do you have a similar problem with the protrayal os some of the male characters in works by Morrison? Walker? Bambara?

One last point; anyone who goes to a movie and makes judgements about an entire culture based on a piece of fluff/entertainment such as this is...ummm..a fool at best.

that is not intended as a putdowsn of Mr perry. But he does make movies that are designed as entertainment vehicles. One can look at his entire body of work and make certain assumptions regarding his place within the larger black culture but at the end of the day what he does is entertainment. And there is nothing wrong with that.

I repect your knowledge / opinions and endeavors in your field of study, economics/finance. I truly believe that your efforts and demand for Black peoole to get our act together in terms of managing finances on a personal level which in turn would lead to accumulation of wealth in the general Black commnuity should be applauded. However, I submit, respectfully, that a culture critic you are not. Your readers and listeners are ill-served when you position yourself as such.

Excuse any typos. i' come to rely on spellcheck too much.

Anonymous said...

Firstly, the book/novel that it was based on is a recognized classic, a serious part of the Black canon. Tyler Perry, was simply bnot the preson to make this movei. Not to denigarte him, there is and should be a place within the Black arts comunity for movie makers like him, but simoly stated, given the nature of the type of entertaining movies he makes this was source material that was not served well by him or by anybody else of his ilk who makes the lightweight type of moveies he does. Even what he did to the title serves as evidence of exactly how in depth and respectful of the source material he would be.

Secondly, you want a respnse to the original book? the movie/ Grab a pen and start writing.

I find it curious that you are so supportive of the blatant misogony, racism and simple-minded minstrely embodied in most hip-hop / rap, yet dismissive and defensive when somebody Black (Shange) expresses a reality that differs from that found on pop radio/TV. Or are you just trying to be "hip' when you support the continual Uncle Tomism's of most mainsteam rap and hip-hop?
Do you have a similar problem with the protrayal os some of the male characters in works by Morrison? Walker? Bambara?

One last point; anyone who goes to a movie and makes judgements about an entire culture based on a piece of fluff/entertainment such as this is...ummm..a fool at best.

that is not intended as a putdowsn of Mr perry. But he does make movies that are designed as entertainment vehicles. One can look at his entire body of work and make certain assumptions regarding his place within the larger black culture but at the end of the day what he does is entertainment. And there is nothing wrong with that.

I repect your knowledge / opinions and endeavors in your field of study, economics/finance. I truly believe that your efforts and demand for Black peoole to get our act together in terms of managing finances on a personal level which in turn would lead to accumulation of wealth in the general Black commnuity should be applauded. However, I submit, respectfully, that a culture critic you are not. Your readers and listeners are ill-served when you position yourself as such.

Excuse any typos. i' come to rely on spellcheck too much.

joy316 said...

Black women didn't fare much better. We have a "cult" minister who believes that children conceived in sin should be aborted. We have a cold cruel fashion executive. Then there is the building busy bot. The relationship expert who checks the dresser drawers every day to see if "her man" is still around. The rape victim who couldn't muster the strength to use the weapons available to her (a boiling pot, kitchen knives, etc.) but could slap a dead body. A woman who knew her "babies daddy" was sick and needed help, refused to marry him because of his faults but could not leave him to protect her children. The town tramp and the misguided pregnant teen. Finally there was the social worker who missed the danger the children were in because she had had an STD that caused sterility. I couldn't be more ashamed of of this movie and these dysfunctional characters. The saddest part was that the movie ended without a single one of them redeemed and healthy. My question is: why do these movies get produced when there are so many other stories of adversity and triumph that need to be told?????

ILUVBlackWomen said...

Janks Morton and Byron Hurt are two such filmmakers that need our support as they try to tell our stories independently. My mother took me to see ntozake shange's original play in NYC it was very heartbreaking to me as a teen black male to know that was her experience but it also helped me to have conversations that led me to my brand Iluvblackwomen dot com. I welcome the discussion on investing in independent films to help us craft better Black Male Images.

But i also realize that as the ONLY site on the Internet that has black men blogging about why they love the black woman in their life in fact the reason i have to spell it iluv vs iloveblackwomen is that "iloveblackwomen dot com" is a porn site since 99 and that's the very word Michael Baisden chose to trademark "iloveblackwomen" even though iloveblackwomen dot is a porn site, what message does that send to our sisters?

Anonymous said...

I have not seen the movie,and I will admit to having much reluctance because black books are often misinterpreted when they are made into films.

I do wonder, however, if we need to go back to the original text and remember that it speaks to a specific time period, a specific historical moment.

I also wonder how much Ntozake Shange had to do with the screen writing, how much of this is "her story". If you recall in her version of the text, the lady in green speaks of "ntozake", my things.

The fact that the women were identified by color was really, really important...when I saw that Tyler Perry had changed that, I knew this was reflective of a greater consumption of the story; honestly I did not expect much from whatever he "threw up".

Patricia said...

I agree with you 100%. My son (33)is a wonderful son, husband, and father to his wife and 4 children. He spends his time carving out a living (self-employed) for his family and coaching little league, music lessons, family game nights, and church most Sundays. His wife is a stay-at-home mother and their children are being raised in a lifestyle where they are brought up to be respectful of their parents, their education, and each other.
And you know what, I see all the friends doing the same thing. So, here are inumerable young couples with children who are married and raising families in a way we would all be proud.
PV, Chicago, IL(and the suburbs)

Anonymous said...

I would like to hear a different critique, beyond the black man blues. This play is most importantly about the way society creates, makes, black men. Brothers need to take their culture back from these kind of men, simply, take the culture back ideas, music, behaviors, norms, values that devalue black women as normal, that is values, beliefs and norms that accept as normal the devaluation of black women. Once men begin to honor as a culture black women (but first you got to know and accept these women) then we won't make men who do the things these men do, rather we will create men who fight back at systems of racism and oppression using tools of education, love, honor, dignity, hard work and rejection of devaluation of women. Which means rejecting the whore/madonna image, running through women as hoes, then marrying someone else's hoe! I saw the play in the 80s, purchased the book/poem and have read these same kind of reviews since the beginning of this particular cultural mileau in the black experience. It is an empty critique because it challenges nothing and achieves nothing. Shange is not attacking men, she is asking women to question their own motives and desires...about solving deep personal issues through the love and living with men who are just as vulnerable and injured as the women themselves. She also is asking us as men and women under oppression and racism to step into the full reality of our situation as a group (since we accept that the brothers in the play represent "black men" which is really why the critique is so tiresome...all of the issues ultimately are faced by men and women of all cultures, races, income bracketts...and really that's al you have to say to any non-African American who makes a comment...at least that's what I have been doing since the 1960s and it has pretty much solved my need to please white folks or to internalize as universal that shame lies in the lives of black men and women exclusively).

Miss Higgi said...

Ummm, Dr Boyce, did you see Daddy's Little Girl? I think in that movie Tyler offered the balance for Black men you seek. I would venture to say that there was a balanced representation of Black men in Why Did I Get Married as well. For Colored Girls is but one movie. We have some really painful stuff that sadly, as a friend pointed out, 30+ years after these poems were written, is still prevalent and/or relevant in our community and that my friend is the travesty!!! I'm Just Sayin'...

Tyler is a Black man. What would he gain by “demonizing” himself as you suggest? How about he did a PHENOMENAL job in his adaptation of Ms. Shange's poems and for that I say we should applaud OUR Brotha’!!! The progression of skill in his work is undeniable. One older, well informed woman with whom I viewed the movie critiqued that it was “damn near perfect”! Give the Brotha' his props!!! Just because we don't talk about it or just because it makes us uncomfortable does not make it any less true or any less painful. The message is that we got some healing still to do! I say let the healing begin and Sistahs step aside let our Good Brothas lead the way. Black Women Love Black Men But We Hurt Too! I’m Just Sayin’… Kudos to TP!!!

Anonymous said...

Dr. Watkins your edit of the film has a lot of truth but for myself I was only embarrassed about the parts I was guilty of. All black men and boys have things in there lives they may not be so proud of if it were public knowledge. I think that is very true for most humans. Why did it make you embarassed to be a black man? I have a personal request to ask of you. Will you consider asking Tyler to write a movie showing how "YOU" would like to see Black men and women on screen?

Crystal D. from Philadelphia said...

I might have been more inclined to wholly agree with you Dr. Watkins, had I not met with a group of women of all ages, for a debrief, right after the movie. Our conclusion was that Black men would viscerally react to how they were portrayed in the movie, just as we were, so I understand where you're coming from. I too would like to see more positive images of Black men on the big screen. It's our (The Black Community) mantra, so here I think you're oversimplifying.

We also concluded that the movie wasn't about Black men or Black women. It was about human beings and learning to trust yourself. You know Black folks in America have always pointed the country and world towards self-love.

I don't particularly like the way Black women are portrayed in 'For Colored Girls.' I have to say though, I know a lot of women who have been violated. They carry the pain, the scars and a lot of shame as a result. If a movie like this can help them follow their internal guiding systems better, to trust themselves more, then I'm all for it.

Anonymous said...

DR Boyce, accountability and responsibility are two terms that film makers and Rap stars don't like to hear because they hit hard at there sole. To them its just entertainment and only about the money and awards.I'll ask you. Do Black children and adults mimic what they see on tv and motion pictures? I am not a educator or doctor but I have traveled the world and saw with my own eyes they do in public what is produced in American media,music and movies.In the Arab world outside of Dubai and Qatar.I mention these two because those are not the countries I'm talking about.You mentioned Spike Lee he is no better than Tyler. I think its all about the "MONEY".This is America,who really cares? GOD isn't real.

Neet said...

should every movie pass the "positive black man" litmus test? the truth of the matter is that as difficult as it may be for a man to watch this movie and think - poor me, i'm NOT that man - it is just that difficult for a woman who has been raped to watch, or the woman that makes the mistake of taking back that man that she shouldnt or the woman that either didn't or couldn't leave her abuser or the woman that ignores those signs that her man is on the downlow.... i could go on. but understand, watching your own humanity, the lack there of or the mistakes or hurts in your life, aint easy for nobody....don't blame tyler.

Anonymous said...

Dr Watkins, while I may be simplistic in my comment, let me be the first to say: I support my black men in every way that I know how and that I can. I am an independent thinking woman that loves black men, period. All of us have faults, but nevertheless, there are plenty of dam_ good black men. They just never get the press and imagery that the negative image receives. There are thieves, pimps, rapists, abusers, DL men in all races; but our black brothers seem to always receive the brunt of everything negative. I, like many, many others, know and acknowledge the strong, good, loving, kind, supportive, providing brothers we have and love, whether he earns $20,000 annually or $2 million annually. True love is blind to money. Albeit, 'for colored girls' is a good movie and I enjoyed it, and plan to see it again.

~v

Anonymous said...

Well put. Even though Tyler is only one person, his projects generally stem around the hardships Black womnen encounter. Unfortunatley, his message attests to that which is caused by the African American Male. Tyler does excellent in getting his message out. I'm not sure if Tyler is the one to tell the plight of the "Black Male".

Anonymous said...

yes, black men tell your stories. There is that film "Diary of a Tired Black Man" and I think there is a lot of truth to it. Dr. Watkins tell your story. I really don't think the movie should be taken personal. All Black women know that there are some good black men out here, just not enough. What do you mean by some Black men don't want to get married because they feel they can't do it well? I would love for you to elaborate on that more in another article maybe. Most black women will date men without money, so I don't agree with that assessment. I enjoy hearing your perspective.

Jarmon Woods said...

I have a history with this piece. It was the first play that I saw that I could identify with in the 70's on PBS. Tyler Perry just told a story that was already written. While I agree that all too often black men are demonized, I didn't take that away from this movie. The women in this movie were not all victims.There were lessons in each. Lorretta D character was tolerating too much and was a victim of her own weaknesses, Kimberly A's character should took responsibility for her role in the children's death and of course the sisters' role showed the consequences of dangerous sex. I could go on but my point is black women walk away with a kind of lesson that films like this carry. It's not about black men (per se). That's why it's for colored girls!!!

Anonymous said...

I agree for the most with Dr. Boyce. Though I think this is the best film Perry has made on an artist level, it kinda uses the same formula he tends to use when portraying black men.

Anonymous said...

Tyler sees it from a woman's view because, well he is really...well.

Anonymous said...

I too saw the movie and thought it was an excellent portrayal in the choices that are sometimes made for us through no fault of our own, like the Father and Grandfather that raped and molested his daughter and granddaughter. After this experience we wonder why they do the things they do especially in a society that says "we're not supposed to talk about those things in public." The other thing is I had the priviledge of seeing the original play done on Broadway back in the 70's and that's when this play was actually written so the themes came from that era. The down low husband that gave his wife HIV with no regard for her life. This still happens today and because Black Women are so trusting of "OUR" men, we are the leading cases of Aids today. I am much more than a bitter Black Woman that endured one of those men (the womanizer) for twenty years because I didn't want my daughter to grow up without her father. The day I took her to college, I left and started a new life of my own. My family and friends could not understand that as intelligent and learned with an advanced college degree, how I could stay in the situation. It takes courage to admit that you've made a mistake and most of us don't go into a marriage to get divorced. It takes courage to walk away from a bad relationship so you can grown and make your own self happy. We have on rose colored glasses and want to see the best in the man we've chosen. Unfortunately, his best may just be his worst. Undoubtedly, there are some wonderful Black Men out there as I have met quite a few, it's just that there are also some really bad ones. Maybe you good guys should get together and make a movie showcasing YOU so both sides of the story will be told.

Sharon said...

Dr. Boyce,
I think you are missing the point here. This was not a story about how bad Black men are or about how good black women are. This was a story about how Black women give up their power and, as a result, their right to determine how their lives will be lived. This was a wake-up call to Black women to start to take charge of their own lives and to realize that they (we)don't have to give all of our 'stuff' away to someone else. That if we are not careful, someone will just "walk away with all of who we are in a plastic bag under his arm, and won't even know he has it." This was not an indictment of black men. It was an indictment of black women for giving away their power, giving away themselves. Who they gave it to is not the point. That the men happened to be Black isn't the point Perry was making here. This was an examination of the psyche of Black women. Why is it difficult for you to give us the space to do that without assuming it is all about you (men). Why do you have to change the focus from women to men. The movie did not blame black men for what happened to the women. The women were blamed for how their lives were. The character played by Felicia Rashad told the mother of the murdered children that she had to take some of the blame for why her children were dead. Loretta Devine repeatedly took back into her life a man she knew was cheating on her. She was to blame for that, not the man. The character played by Janet Jackson knew her husband was looking at other men and just refused to deal with it. Her fault, not his. As painful as I know it is to look upon the damaged lives of colored girls, please don't take the spotlight away before we have the chance to really SEE and benefit from the self-examination. Simply put, Dr. Boyce, it just ain't about you.

B.ROC said...

Dr. Boyce, you are on point with this one.

My friends and brothers are trying hard and succeeding at being great husbands, fathers, etc.

I would give my life for my wife and kids but that's not a story I expect to see playing from Tyler Perry and with all due respect - Oprah, etc....because their experiences were/are not like that.

So they perpetuate these stories. In some ways, it is akin to the often repeated drugs/violence/mysogny tune of "Gangster Rappers". The interesting thing is that "we" can dislike Gangster Rap but accept D.M.I.'s (Demonizing Movie Images) of African American men.

Neicy rai said...

I truly appreciate your candid remarks on the movie.

These experiences are not uncommon in our communities, but yet have been hidden, hushed and glossed over. Black men are not the demons, the inability to find our own true self worth is.

The men and women in this film are equally responsible for their life experiences. This movie to me was about becoming whole and facing our inner demons.

Where we come from is out of our control but what we become is a powerful testament of our journeys.

My LOVE for my brothers is too deep too have thrown back in my face.

k.t.faith said...

I believe this depiction of a African-American classic book was spectacular. If you like art, and poetry, and theater, then you will enjoy this movie. We shouldn't take the accounts of this movie, based on the authors voice in the 1970's or earlier and literally apply them to 2010, unless it fits. The men that I know and respect were not in the least bit disappointed in this film. They appreciated the movie for what it was...entertainment. There are good men and good women, bad men and bad women in the world. How narrow minded of you to only see one viewpoint. This is real life stuff, happening every day. If you had a problem with this movie, then perhaps you are not as intuned to reality as you should be. It's more real than I would like to believe. Just my point of view. This was Tyler Perry's best work, to date.

P.S. Tell your stories from antoher perspective if you wish. Feel free to complete a literary piece and have it made into a movie. We'll watch that too.

Anonymous said...

Tyler Perry has a good point in the what the black woman has to face daily,and still take care of her business. And you wonder why she is called a BITCH. Well call me Ms. BITCH, because I am in a sexless marriage, praying for a miracle. Not another Mr. Perry.

Sherri said...

I saw the movie and it was more to me about the struggles that I'm sure at one point or another, many women, black, brown, white or red, has experienced. I didn't take it as the demonization of black men but the struggles those particular women endured. No one should walk away from ANY movie with the stereotype that those stories apply to EVERY person of a particular race or culture that was portrayed. More importantly, this was a piece of art created in the 1970's by Ntozake Shange that Tyler brought to life on the big screen. It wasn't his story, but hers so the credit or discredit as you see fit, due is hers. The problem is your anticipation of other races concluding that this is what ALL black people are about. Now that just doesn't seem to happen when I watch white movies. I don't walk away with the sense of "this is how all white people are." I don't expect them to do the same albeit some will and obviously, and sadly, so will blacks. If you want different stories told, write your scripts and produce them. That is exactly what Tyler Perry has done.

Anonymous said...

As a black women who has lost all respect for not only black men, but my own people period because we refuse to work towards being truly free and self loving, I am here to tell you that Sister Shange didn't just invent these scenarios as baseless creative portrayals, but sadly these slices of life characters are chock full of poetically tragic reality.

When leaving the preview of this movie, alone, as most Sistah's are these days, another lone Sistah asked me what I thought of the movie. My response to her was that is was "poetically tragic."

I am saddened to say that I have experienced, in some form, each and everyone of the tragic scenes highlighted in that movie in some form or another, except the character portrayed by Hill Harper. I'm sure he's someone's reality, but he hasn't been mine.

And, please don't jump the gun to assume that it is because I hate myself. Wrong. I do love myself more than most, which is why I am alone, and have been most my life. I saw my Mother violated for decades and vowed to not let that be me, ever; and I haven't for long, once it raised its' ugly head.

I love myself enough to not believe that anyone is entitled to, or deserves, "unconditional love" except for children. I am alone because I would, and will not, ever let myself be maligned to the point of masochism in order be with anyone, including a person passing themselves off as a man. That's especially true when, in fact, he doesn't know what love nor manhood is. And, I am not gay, nor do I hate anyone.

When elaborating on my take of the movie to this anonymous Sistah, I told her that the movie represents our community's inability to heal and get sane due to the fact that we continue to be in denial about the scars of slavery that have rendered us a self loathing, and wounded people.

The result of this state of maligning has been to self hate, in different ways; but for black males, they tend to mete their self loathing out on their women and children as the only ones who tend to give them unconditional love, with little to no repercussions for their cruelty and/or dessertion.

Black women tend to mete theirs out on one another. The lovely, dovely camaraderie and friendship portrayed in this movie, and others like "Waiting to Exhale," are a little over played. Sistahs can be pretty mean to one another.
This is why we cannot become fully free as a people.

At this point, I will put in the obligatory, yes, there are exceptions to every rule - thank God. Overall, black people are a beautiful people. Problem is, we love everyone more than we love ourselves as a people.

Fact is, if you can't collaborate on anything positive, you can't nation build. Consequently, as a people, you can't be free.

Black women tend to demonstrate their self hate, by not feeling that they deserve to be treated with kindness, love and respect; but rather are on this futile, endless quest to make black men love them [the fatherless presence syndrome] even though the men can't love their women because they don't love themselves.

And, of course, the fall out from this is damaged children who continue to carry on this cycle of self-hate and abuse, aka post slavery syndrome. Sadly, this cycle will never end until we address it, and work towards correction.

We cannot talk about our pain and the scars of slavery. This is why these kinds of movies are so needed. We need to be able to look at ourselves, not judgmentally, but for healing. And, no one understands black men and women equally as brilliantly as does Tyler Perry. He's a genius!

All in all, black people are suffering from 400+ years of slavery, both chattel and psychological/volunteer slavery, aka modern day slavery; and until we get the courage to face up to the scars of these demons, and address them, we will never be a healthy and/or liberated people.

We must stop worshipping false gods, and start to worship the God in us.

Anonymous said...

Dr.Watkins,

I agree that the good men do not get enough credit even though I can relate to some of the men that were portrayed.

The bad women make it hard for the good women to get a good man because they use and abuse them and then they are afraid to trust a good woman. It works both ways.

Sorry for your beat down!

Cudo's to all the good black men that are taking care of business!!

Shand said...

For years Black women has been in the shadows without a voice. I understand the hardship of the black man from my father and my husband but all too often the black women is portrayed and lose loud and not very intelligent. You should not be so hard on Tyler Perry,he is an emotional artist you must remember he was molested as a child and a victim of such a horrible act makes less trusting of those who looks like the abuser. It took years for me to love my black brother and it is not easy loving a black man, with all the hurdles america sets before him, black woman were forced into the roles we have today due to lack of positive black role modules we must be strong we have not other choice, there is not enough good brothers to good around that is why sisters are turning to other races for mates. This problem is not new, Tyler Perry is not doing anything that others do he is appealing to the audience who supports him, the black woman, at his plays the majority of the audience is black women at his movies as well, I think you are been a tad bit hard on Tyler Perry for this movie. I guess you didn't like the tribute on BET "Black Girl Rock" either sorry but sisters are tire of being in the shadows it's time for us to be seen in a positive light too!

Anonymous said...

As you know, this was an adaptation of a poetic book written by Ntozake Shange in the 1970s.TP can't be blamed for the content and from what I've heard, he did a brilliant adaptation. Moreover, since then black women have suffered from the constant negative comments and portrayals by some rappers and others. I don't think this one movie tries to portray the entire universe of black men, but puts forward the experiences of some black women. Not all black women suffer from these same experiences. If, indeed you believe there should be a similar movie about black men then someone should write the script. We shouldn't put the entire burden for wholesome depictions of the black family and black love relationships on TP's shoulders.

Devo said...

I think that before a critique can be made on the movie, one has to consider the nature of the movie and the climate in this contemporary version of the original play. Albeit, the criticisms are well deserved, they are taken out of context. Simply, there are not too many rays of sunshine that shine through a pejorative light and even when that light shines through, the rainbow is not enough. The characters make a point and are a snippet (not a depiction) of reality. If someone thinks otherwise, than that is their prerogative. Perry does has in the past done Black men a favor, because the reality is that we are not all successful athletes, entertainers and academics...some of us have to wear uniforms that are not sold with our names on the backs and can not find our name in a publication online...some of us are the lumpen getting by from our day to day...and in that vain, Perry has done well to depict that cross section of society. It is not all positive down here and sometimes minds, hearts, and souls get lost. If that is offensive to you, let that be the reflecting pool that you wash your hurt feelings in.

Nicole Nelson said...

Sometimes a film, a book, a play, cannot cover the many facets in which an audience would like. With a choreopoem entitled, "For Colored Girls," I would hope those who opted to view, understood whom the target audience was. Just as there are many black men who exemplify the examples you provided, there are those who do not; those were the men in this film.

And, you seem to have missed the point, as the point of this film was not to examine the lives of and many complicated layers of black men. It was about black women, their frailities and experiences. Should the original author and Tyler Perry have sugar coated the real experiences of many black women because gee, that might make black men look terrible? I think black men should get over themselves. This movie wasnt a generalization nor is it intended to be viewed in a vacuum.

I am a black woman and I know there are many upstanding, courageous, honest, loyal, faithful, hardworking and caring black men.I love them, support them and am their greatest ally. However, that does not mean that the black women who encounter and experience men of the opposite should not have a voice and should not have their stories told.

Moreover, the film certainly did not portray all black women as mighty as you seem to make it. Some of those women were weak, frail, promiscuous and selfish. So please, let us not pretend this was the Rocky Balboa movie for women in their most courageous roles. Some of those women were in the fights of their lives and some of them were in those very fights with themsevles. Those portraits were not so flattering either but same as the men, their stories were told. Let us not diminish the work and the depth of this film by claiming to have seen it in another life and another genre; such a statement is as juvenile as it is erroneous.

Shirley Brown said...

Dr. Boyce,
You continue to misunderstand art, women, African American life in white America, The reality of new slavery and the real deal...which is you do not represent Black America but that you are a Black man living in America!I am so sorry thta you did not participate in the Civil Rights movement that allowed persons like you and myself to achieve based on the brave efforts of those who stood before us. I will not allow you or any man of distinction to portray Black men as simply victims that should not be held accountable or anything said should be whispered to not hurt your feelings! I simply say you shut up about the things that you obviously know nothing about!
Tyler can represent because in case, you don't know, he writes, produces and spends his money on behalf of our people as well as himself!I am tired of your self serving attitude! You may look like me but you do not represent me! Take this bull crap article to the liars of both Black and White America! Have you heard, the Truth will set us Free and you will be another one who hit the dust!No apology offered and no apology required!I still believe in the Power of the Spirit of God and the
Mercy and Grace that he bestows.

Young Gepetto said...

Saw "Colored Girls" when it was new and I was much younger.(pre-Tyler Perry) Growing up in the projects, the challenge I faced was that I knew of men who were depicted in the play. The question I always had to ask was "Are black men born this f_cked up?" Fortunately I was raised by a father(black Man) who's wife(my mother,a black woman) died of a stoke and resulting complications. I share this because I was blessed to have two great teachers in my parents. Even though I didn't have my mom for very long, it was long enough for me to view how devoted my parents were to each other, how they respected each other, listened to each other.
Having had this example, somehow I knew intrinsically that black men were not born this "f_cked up". My dad wasn't, many in the hood weren't, I wasn't. Somewhere along the line, a sickness took root. Also had an older brother who for whatever positives he brought to the table, was the embodiment of "The Player". The only time he was serious was when he was lying to paraphrase Stevie Nicks, and a large part of my youth was spent being subjected to his gauntlet of what was supposed to represent a dysfunctional "Rites of Passage" to manhood: Dis-respect these b_tches, make em feel helpless w/o you, blah,blah. Long story short, by the time I was about 13 yrs. old, my older "player" brother(22 yrs. old) STOPPED TRYING TO INDOCTRINATE ME TO THE WAYS OF THE STREETS because as near as I can sense, he knew I was stronger than him, and better than that.(these streets)
As for Mr. Perry's work, I did think that "Precious" was an awesome presentation of how abuse becomes generational if not checked and somehow positively and extensively addressed. Having been a social worker for 23 yrs. I've known too many 'Precious', female and male and the damage both endure, so to feed too much into what one is capable of w/o looking into the extensive history of abuse is not always an easy task. The problem I had with "Precious" was it was tied together with a neat bow at the end with her walking off into the 'sunset' with music swelling with positive hope. The reality is she was a single mother of two, one challenged, HIV positive, and barely able to read. I would hope Mr. Perry is considering a sequel to "Precious."
As for "Colored Girls" I haven't seen Mr. Perry's version yet. Not feeling a need to rush to see it. I have seen the original and got the message then. Knew that Black Men were being demonized back then, and even before. Knew that Black Women being demonized. Knew that the entire Black Community was being demonized. WHERE WOULD THAT DEMONIZATION CONCEPT BE COMING FROM? From within? I don't think so. Despite that pattern of demonization, I still know better, and even now, I still believe I'm better than these streets.

Young Gepetto said...

Saw "Colored Girls" when it was new and I was much younger.(pre-Tyler Perry) Growing up in the projects, the challenge I faced was that I knew of men who were depicted in the play. The question I always had to ask was "Are black men born this f_cked up?" Fortunately I was raised by a father(black Man) who's wife(my mother,a black woman) died of a stoke and resulting complications. I share this because I was blessed to have two great teachers in my parents. Even though I didn't have my mom for very long, it was long enough for me to view how devoted my parents were to each other, how they respected each other, listened to each other.
Having had this example, somehow I knew intrinsically that black men were not born this "f_cked up". My dad wasn't, many in the hood weren't, I wasn't. Somewhere along the line, a sickness took root. Also had an older brother who for whatever positives he brought to the table, was the embodiment of "The Player". The only time he was serious was when he was lying to paraphrase Stevie Nicks, and a large part of my youth was spent being subjected to his gauntlet of what was supposed to represent a dysfunctional "Rites of Passage" to manhood: Dis-respect these b_tches, make em feel helpless w/o you, blah,blah. Long story short, by the time I was about 13 yrs. old, my older "player" brother(22 yrs. old) STOPPED TRYING TO INDOCTRINATE ME TO THE WAYS OF THE STREETS because as near as I can sense, he knew I was stronger than him, and better than that.(these streets)
As for Mr. Perry's work, I did think that "Precious" was an awesome presentation of how abuse becomes generational if not checked and somehow positively and extensively addressed. Having been a social worker for 23 yrs. I've known too many 'Precious', female and male and the damage both endure, so to feed too much into what one is capable of w/o looking into the extensive history of abuse is not always an easy task. The problem I had with "Precious" was it was tied together with a neat bow at the end with her walking off into the 'sunset' with music swelling with positive hope. The reality is she was a single mother of two, one challenged, HIV positive, and barely able to read. I would hope Mr. Perry is considering a sequel to "Precious."
As for "Colored Girls" I haven't seen Mr. Perry's version yet. Not feeling a need to rush to see it. I have seen the original and got the message then. Knew that Black Men were being demonized back then, and even before. Knew that Black Women being demonized. Knew that the entire Black Community was being demonized. WHERE WOULD THAT DEMONIZATION CONCEPT BE COMING FROM? From within? I don't think so. Despite that pattern of demonization, I still know better, and even now, I still believe I'm better than these streets.

Young Gepetto said...

Saw "Colored Girls" when it was new and I was much younger.(pre-Tyler Perry) Growing up in the projects, the challenge I faced was that I knew of men who were depicted in the play. The question I always had to ask was "Are black men born this f_cked up?" Fortunately I was raised by a father(black Man) who's wife(my mother,a black woman) died of a stoke and resulting complications. I share this because I was blessed to have two great teachers in my parents. Even though I didn't have my mom for very long, it was long enough for me to view how devoted my parents were to each other, how they respected each other, listened to each other.
Having had this example, somehow I knew intrinsically that black men were not born this "f_cked up". My dad wasn't, many in the hood weren't, I wasn't. Somewhere along the line, a sickness took root. Also had an older brother who for whatever positives he brought to the table, was the embodiment of "The Player". The only time he was serious was when he was lying to paraphrase Stevie Nicks, and a large part of my youth was spent being subjected to his gauntlet of what was supposed to represent a dysfunctional "Rites of Passage" to manhood: Dis-respect these b_tches, make em feel helpless w/o you, blah,blah. Long story short, by the time I was about 13 yrs. old, my older "player" brother(22 yrs. old) STOPPED TRYING TO INDOCTRINATE ME TO THE WAYS OF THE STREETS because as near as I can sense, he knew I was stronger than him, and better than that.(these streets)
As for Mr. Perry's work, I did think that "Precious" was an awesome presentation of how abuse becomes generational if not checked and somehow positively and extensively addressed. Having been a social worker for 23 yrs. I've known too many 'Precious', female and male and the damage both endure, so to feed too much into what one is capable of w/o looking into the extensive history of abuse is not always an easy task. The problem I had with "Precious" was it was tied together with a neat bow at the end with her walking off into the 'sunset' with music swelling with positive hope. The reality is she was a single mother of two, one challenged, HIV positive, and barely able to read. I would hope Mr. Perry is considering a sequel to "Precious."
As for "Colored Girls" I haven't seen Mr. Perry's version yet. Not feeling a need to rush to see it. I have seen the original and got the message then. Knew that Black Men were being demonized back then, and even before. Knew that Black Women being demonized. Knew that the entire Black Community was being demonized. WHERE WOULD THAT DEMONIZATION CONCEPT BE COMING FROM? From within? I don't think so. Despite that pattern of demonization, I still know better, and even now, I still believe I'm better than these streets.

Domo said...

Unfortunately, this isnt Tyler's original work. This film is adapted from a book. If there are any qualms with the film then it should start with the book and the author of the book. I find it unfortunate that you of all men felt embarrassed to be a Black man, after seeing this film. There are plenty of things going on today, that should do that, rather than some piece of "art." There has been discourse for a while now, about Black men being bashed for this and that. However, if it walks and quacks like a duck, then it probably is. If we're tired of the bashing, then Black men need to be more responsible for changing the narrative. Unfortunately, the stories portrayed in the film (and the book) are real. Black men have been atrocious, just as other men have, but we're not concerned about other men. We're concerned about that which has been done to us (Black women) by Black men. It's unfortunate that we've been told for decades not "to air our dirty laundry" but then when we do, we get "embarrassed." So hypocritical. Who are we really fooling? Why should we be concerned with what our counterparts think of us? If we dont want these stories to be told, then we shouldnt be living them out. The Black community has so many issues to deal with, starting with emotional and mental health. FCG targets these health related issues and spews them back at us, raw and slightly undeveloped. Thats so you can find yourself or someone you know in these characters. Once you do, hopefully, you'll be moved to create change or stop the cycle. Enough is enough already. GET OFF the "bashing Black men wagon" and continue to ask Black men to step it up, take charge of their own narrative, put out better examples of responsibility and be concerned with their community, not their "women" or their "money." Wouldnt be a story to tell if it didnt exist in some form of truth. Our history dictates a lot about our future, but in the end, who is responsible for what really happens, we are. We, meaning, individual (Black men and women) and our community at large. If and when we get serious about our legacies, we'll start to see the change we want. Until then, expect the same ole same. If we choose to reject it, then we'll be slightly further ahead than we are now. Black men have power beyond their own understanding and once they tap it for the benefit of their households and communities, I am highly confident that we'll be on our way to a healthier community. Yes, women have a role in it all, but when we try to give the reins back to the Black man, to lead the household or to lead the decision-making or to lead the community, something goes wrong. This isnt the case all the time, but its the norm not the exception. When we can rely 100% on our men to be the provider, protector, teacher, father, and lover, we'd be less inclined to tell these stories which are so deep in our history. Ive recently discovered that an older male cousin has been sleeping with 2 of our first cousins. Pretty disgusting. He has been in and out of jail and also has a 2 year old son. Now, I would have never imagined this type of incest would be found in my family, especially in 2010. However, it is. When looking for someone to blame, its not easy, but one does have to lay responsibility where it should lie. My male cousin is the oldest of them all. He should know better. Yet, he propositioned my female cousins and they took the offer. They should know better too, but in the end, they did it. As long as this monstrosity exists within our families and households, the stories should continue to be told. Embarrassment should be the least of our worries.

Thanks for the article Boyce, keep 'em coming.

Anonymous said...

I haven't seen the movie and probably won't, but my wife is planning to go. I have seen the play twice (many years ago) and it is excellent although depressing for men. If Mr. Perry is true to the play, he had no choice about the tone of the movie. Can a black movie director/producer just present a movie that entertains, has moving well-acted characters, and/or invokes strong emotional responses without having to have a positive message?

Blythe Dhia said...

I've yet to see "For Colored Girls," but maybe you shouldn't be so sensitive. Every movie tells a story from a specific angle. It's not Tyler Perry's job to assuage the ego of Black men. He was simply making an adaptation of Ntozake's book. Perhaps Spike Lee and other critics of Tyler Perry should tell stories from other unique angles. Nothing is ever 100% fair and balanced.

Debra said...

I have not gone to see the movie. After reading this post I don't think I will. All I can say is that I am a blessed black sista who has been married to the same black brotha for 37 years. Loves me, loves the children and grands. Have always worked, encouraged importance of education in our home. Supports me,respects me and I him.He believes in opening and closing the door for me. I love it!He supports my dreams and ambitions. Never robbed or raped, I have found him to be a very honorable man that I am so proud to call my husband and the father of my 4 adult children and who the grands refer to as "Grandpa." Maybe I'm just one lucky sista.Perhaps I just picked the last one.But that's not true because I have wonderful brothers, uncles, son-in-laws and a host of friends who happen to also love and care for their families and their communities and the last time I checked they too were African-American men!

BLU said...

I disagree with your observation, 1st i didn't see a pimp in the movie which man was a pimp? second the movie was a book/play perviously written by Ntozakhe Shange and tyler added the good guy to help ease the issue of the portrayal of the men in the book.
Also I don't think his spin on "for colored girls" wasn't the color of their skin, but the color of their issues highlighting the colored issues that women of (All races face)black women. I believe White women would see that movie and should name personal friends that are in or have been in each of those situations.
Keep in mind it wasn't written by Tyler Perry also keep in mind that Tyler is the ONLY producer today that uses an all black cast. so he could have put a white women in the movie with a black man, and portray that relationship and you've protest him as being with her to be his servant, using her for her money, to make a pretty baby, the list goes on.
Dr. if you really think about you have to admit the issues address are common place in the world today, our black men are in jail, abusive, mentally ill because of military service, women and men are killing thier kills, and the term down-low even thou some white men are doing the same, is a term posted on the black man cheaping on his wife with another man.

Anonymous said...

Thank You Dr. Boyce for pointing this out. I had this conversation with my brother after he and his girlfriend watched this movie. His opinion is of the same as yours. While he generally likes Tyler Perry movies, he feels that Mr. Perry has consistently portrayed black men negatively and he said and I quote, "I will not watch another Tyler Perry movie again unless he address the issues black men also have and some positive images of black men". While Tyler Perry's main audience may be women, he's losing the few men who also would watch his movies/plays with their wives/girlfriends/daughters.

Anonymous said...

Where do I begin? Unlike other movies where TP had absolute poetic license to craft the story, this was not the case for the movie. And I know that you are old enough to KNOW that this movies was adapted from a play. What Tyler did was give a face to the men identified in the play. In fact it was his idea to insert Hill Harper to try and balance the faceless voiceless men in the play.

Michael Ealy's character was exact from the play, Anika Noni Rose's issue was simply amplified from her peom of what hapepened to her. What exactly did you want him to do with the movie, create an entirely new plot from the poems despite their subject matter.

And for the record, the problem always begins when we train ourselves to give a damn about what white people will say. These are the same people who applauded Precious, a movie about a big fat black girl who the only good people in her life were light skin or white people. Where was the disdain for that apsect. No we got crtiticms of black people because we were told that didn't embrace a story that needed to be told because of the way she looked. When the reality is White people seek to jump on ANYTHING that we have a negative view of.

Furthermore, white folks don't lok at their movies and feel ashamed because we may think their drunks, nasty, rapists, crass, gay, evil etc. Thus why i the hell should we care what they think. Also, lets not fool ourselves, white people know the damn difference but as long as WE allow them to get away with allowing 1 thing to characterize an entire race, why would they stop? Its been working like a charm.

Your argument about feeling bad for Black women flies in the face of the TRUE fact which is why the movie needed to be told now. That is that white men or women feel any kind of respect for Black women. The don't feel sorry for us. In fact, its them who have amplified some criticisms from black men that we are undesirable, angry, not loyal, attitudinal etc. White women can't possibly feel any way about black men since they still are the most preferred while Black women get shoved to bottom of the heap with Hispanic and Asian males. All the while the white man continues to creep around as he always has to bed you down.

So please spare your rhetoric about this movie. Furthermore, since you are such a TP defender, then you know that mosy of his movies show that the man was the rich guy and the good brother that gave the woman trues love was the down to earth brother with a REGULAR job. Daddy's little girl showed a good father and a snooty black chick and the Family That Preys showed the consequences of Black women striving so high they forget about the good men they have.

STOP PERPETUATING THIS NONSENSE. Finally, our community can't possibly be doing a good job of making a man marry even when he isn't ready considering 42% of black women have never been married. But the moral of that story is if his butt ain't ready quit making babies and having sex.

Anonymous said...

Where do I begin? Unlike other movies where TP had absolute poetic license to craft the story, this was not the case for the movie. And I know that you are old enough to KNOW that this movies was adapted from a play. What Tyler did was give a face to the men identified in the play. In fact it was his idea to insert Hill Harper to try and balance the faceless voiceless men in the play.

Michael Ealy's character was exact from the play, Anika Noni Rose's issue was simply amplified from her peom of what hapepened to her. What exactly did you want him to do with the movie, create an entirely new plot from the poems despite their subject matter.

And for the record, the problem always begins when we train ourselves to give a damn about what white people will say. These are the same people who applauded Precious, a movie about a big fat black girl who the only good people in her life were light skin or white people. Where was the disdain for that apsect. No we got crtiticms of black people because we were told that didn't embrace a story that needed to be told because of the way she looked. When the reality is White people seek to jump on ANYTHING that we have a negative view of.

Furthermore, white folks don't lok at their movies and feel ashamed because we may think their drunks, nasty, rapists, crass, gay, evil etc. Thus why i the hell should we care what they think. Also, lets not fool ourselves, white people know the damn difference but as long as WE allow them to get away with allowing 1 thing to characterize an entire race, why would they stop? Its been working like a charm.

Anonymous said...

Your argument about feeling bad for Black women flies in the face of the TRUE fact which is why the movie needed to be told now. That is that white men or women feel any kind of respect for Black women. The don't feel sorry for us. In fact, its them who have amplified some criticisms from black men that we are undesirable, angry, not loyal, attitudinal etc. White women can't possibly feel any way about black men since they still are the most preferred while Black women get shoved to bottom of the heap with Hispanic and Asian males. All the while the white man continues to creep around as he always has to bed you down.

So please spare your rhetoric about this movie. Furthermore, since you are such a TP defender, then you know that mosy of his movies show that the man was the rich guy and the good brother that gave the woman trues love was the down to earth brother with a REGULAR job. Daddy's little girl showed a good father and a snooty black chick and the Family That Preys showed the consequences of Black women striving so high they forget about the good men they have.

STOP PERPETUATING THIS NONSENSE. Finally, our community can't possibly be doing a good job of making a man marry even when he isn't ready considering 42% of black women have never been married. But the moral of that story is if his butt ain't ready quit making babies and having sex.

Sherry said...

For Colored Girls was not about the men in the film but how we as black women have been treated and how we have or have not treated ourselves poorly (self-image). For once a generational truth was told in a very dignified way.

Thank you Tyler for not making this film about men (give them their turn next)! To everone else stop making everything about men!!! And men since your see your misgivings and the things you project towards others (in this case women)clean up your acts!!!!

Anonymous said...

??? You do know this is a remake, right ??? O_o

Doria Scott said...

All movies are not going to be about knights in shinning armor. This movie portrayed life, not just in the African American community, but in all communities. If a white woman was in the audience, I am sure she saw both white women and men she knew in this movie. This is what the play and movie were about...Life. It happens in every race. I have seen so many "white" movies that portray white men as monsters, killing and raping everyone in their way. I don't judge all white people by what I see in a movie and I think for you as a educated man should not either. I can't tell you how to think or feel, I just think you and all of us should not be so sensitive and try to shelter Black people, and understand that even though we are a very unique people, the things that go on in our neighborhoods go on in "white" and other neighborhoods, good and bad. If this movie had been made about "white girls" would you have felt the same?
I am not a critic, but I think Tyler Perry is an exceptional director who brings another spin to his movies, and I love his work. It is my opinion that he did an excellent job with "colored girls"

Anonymous said...

Dr. Watksins you have missed the mark on the entire premise of the movie, book and play.

Let me respond to your statement:

1. There is no thief in the movie. When Loretta Devine's character so eloquently stated, "Someone stole all my stuff," she was referring to her heart, soul and love. Not actual material things.

2. Most women regardless of color have experienced in some form or another date rape, rape, being abused (sexually & physically), cheated on and there are some women (primarilly black women) that have contracted the HIV virus from a BLACK man on the DL.

and lastly,

3. The original play/book was written for all women by an African American woman and I believe a Latin American woman from THEIR perspective and from what they have personally witnessed as "Colored" women in America.

So with that being said, I do not expect you as a man to fully understand the plight of women of color, but as a highly educated man I expected you to be more tolerant and I expected you to understand the plight of your mothers, sisters, aunts, grandmothers, female cousins and daughters.

Sincerely,

Anonymous said...

Tyler Perry is not to blame for the words of the author,..a Black woman. He is the producer, and director, and interpretor of another's feelings and thoughts. He has done it superbly! The words expressed in the film are not his!. Why blame him?? He has such talent for what he does. Go to the source for your criticisms!

Khafee said...

I can't voice an opinion on the movie because I have yet to see it. But, I think the examples you pointed out and your argument was well stated, "black men are human too and both genders are inclined to make bad choices." This is very true; some black men being wrong doesn’t make all black women right. However, Scripture states that to whom much is given, much is required. Therefore, Black men tend to bear the brunt of the blame because they have the greatest responsibility of leadership as the head of the family, and everyone knows that when the head is destroyed everything else is to follow. There are many black men who are loving and responsible fathers, husbands, and leaders. But, sadly, there is a high population of black men who are not. I don’t think that this image should be constantly portrayed in the media, but I do think that it does need to be addressed, perhaps in another forum. The Million Man March gave the same message as Colored Girls, The Color Purple, etc, but with a less abrasive approach. The message: Time to Man Up.

B.J. Williams said...

Please keep in mind that Tyler Perry DID NOT write this script, he produced it. This particular story was a long-running play in New York many years ago. Just thought I would throw that in.

Anonymous said...

I too saw the film and I wasn't particular satisfied with the portrayal of us "colored girls". I left the movie in a fog about whether it was good or not but I appreciated the glimmers of hope and beauty in the women. I also left saying it was not as "bad" as the movie Precious (which was ridiculously over the top with dysfunction). My comment is that all of Tyler Perry's film with atleast one positive portrayal of a black men such as Idris Elba in Daddy's Little Girl; Boris Kudjo in Family Renunion; Shamar Moore in Diary of a Mad Black Man; and Adam Rodriques in I can do Bad by Myself. The only thing Tyler Perry is guilty of is producing the same story line "very well" in all his films. You can hate the player but you can't the game...Tyler Perry is winning his game!

SISTA42 said...

I must add, I saw the movie twice on opening day, not planned but two invites I couldn't pass down since they were BDay gifts w/dinner. I believe the movie overall gave a vision on big screen from the book and the play in more modernized view. I heard of the book and the play but never thought twice about it. It was not until I saw the line up for this film that peaked my interest. Those women played their roles so well I know one or more should be up for oscars and I wouldn't be surprised if any of the men, ( hill harper) gets a nodd, well deserving of course. I truly cannot wrap my brain around the dialogue from the african american community when T.P. writes yet another espisode of the realities in our culture. Certainly there are exceptions and there will always be postive male/female role models as well as negative so if he's telling our stories or not, take what you can use and leave the rest. He has paved the way and introduced young starving black actors/actresses that we might not know as well today and for that I give him much love. When white america would not buy into his vision, he didn't stop, give up, complain, he kept his grind on till he brought his own production company where he could open doors for many to follow. We are always our own worst critics and that's why we tend to have to worker harder, strive harder, compete harder,etc. The other races and cultures see us just as that and if we kick each others back in, kill each other, etc. daily why should they not continue in their demise. We need to have a better union amongst our culture like back in the days when we stood together. It's sad Of course everyone has their likes and dislikes and healthy talk is good, it's the garbage, bashing talk that useless.

Awarrior said...

With respect to your observation Dr. Watkins, I'm sure some black men have done every abusive thing in this movie; but we also know it is not reflective of the many good and decent black men in this country.

For years, Hollywood has portrayed black men as pimps, drug dealers, thugs and womanizers. We know this leads to numerous stereotypes that usually determine how many view an entire group of people.

Some people say that films such as Waiting to Exhale and Diary of a Mad Black Woman may have led many Black women to believe that there are not many good Black men around, and that those no-good men are the reason for the turmoil that sometimes exist in Black relationships. Let us remember, these are just the independent perspectives of writers, artist and filmmakers in their own right.

We need more films like The Pursuit of Happiness, The Great Debaters and Diary of a Tired Black Man.

bobomanjr said...

Tyler Perry is first and foremost an astute business man, He knows who his audience is and he developes projects to that end, his audience is primarily Black Women, so he developes fictional projects for this group. The key word in this is FICTIONAL, trying to read more into it,than what is, says more about the writer than Tyler Perry. The fact that there are not more Black producers and writers presenting the various aspects of the Black community is the problem.

Obviously he has taken cues from the Oprah playbook , find your audience, and speak to them.
Flag R and 9 more liked this Edit ReplyReply

Brenda C. said...

When will Black people stop feeling responsible for the ignorance of others? Every time a movie is made by and/or about charactors that are black, black people take it apart because "they will think we're all like that." But, that's never heard when movies of the same ilk are made by and/or about other people of color or those that lack color. We have a right to explore comedy and tradegy on equal terms with the rest of the world. We don't owe anyone an explantation! If someone sees a film starring an all black cast and the story line is a negative one, the person doing the viewing must take it upon themselves to have some common sense and realize that's just a film (not a documentary) and not to depend upon Hollywood for their education.

Anonymous said...

It is just a movie. Like many works before it we will recognize the success or failure based on the results at the box office. I doubt if many women will be empowered by this film that were not potentially empowered already. I am certain that men of color do not view the film as a model for human behavior like many of the movies that preceded it. Still, the movie has an audience and if you did not like it the movie was not for you. Let those that enjoyed it bask in its glow. Mr. Perry leaves no doubt about his fan base so please don't expect him to extend that base because of a few negavtive comments about his product. There is no law that requires us to enjoy every movie we watch. We are lucky if we are entertained by them.

Anonymous said...

Please, sir, read the original work by Ms Shange. It's a choreopoem and Tyler did a wonderful job adapting it to a movie. I was coming of age when the book came out and it was wonderful for me so see one of us writing about us for us. The poems were depicting the not-always-rosy types of life many women lead. TP couldn't change the entire plot of the movie and keep it true to the original work.

Sable said...

I have yet to see For Colored Girls... I plan on reading the book first to get a better understanding of the movie. I want to express that some African Americans will watch this movie and not see past the color of the actors. I am a big fan of lifetime, and when I watch a lifetime movie, I do not say to myself, this movie is making women look bad, or making men look bad, labels stripped a person of their character, so when I watch a movie I am able to enjoy it on a human level, without getting weighed down by gender, race, or sexuality.

If your worried about perception, than I suggest you get over it, The human mind left to itself is bias and unjust, that is why we educate ourselves so that we know better to do better. Perception is part of our DNA; we fight it by finding the truths in the world.
The only people who will walk away from this movie with a negative perception of black people are people who already had that perception before they walked in the theater.

You cannot be worried about what a person may think about you that limits human the spirit. The people who are worried about the perception of the movie are people who are only projecting their insecurities out into the world. I have never in life felt that because someone saw a movie about a black woman, that I would have to endure the effects of said movie and if I was to even run into a person who lives in a world of perception I would gladly sit with them and explain to them the false and true parts of the film.

This movie does nothing to disgrace black men; it is a story about these women lives, not your life, unless you can relate to the women in the movie.

Do you know how many movies about the subjects in this movie are shown on lifetime the only difference, For Colored Girls is an all black cast. I enjoy Tyler’s movies because he discusses subjects that some in the black community don’t want to discuss. No one can make a you look bad, if a person comes up to you and ask you a question about black people they saw in a movie, that is an opportunity for you to help educate them.

“The quality of your life is determined by the quality of your thinking.”

www.allpoetry.com/sableofnight

Anonymous said...

I am an African American woman who saw the movie and thought it was well done. As it has been stated before Tyler Perry did not write this play now movie.
He put at least 2 things into the movie that where not in the play first was Hill Harper character. The second was HIV disease that Janet Jackson's character contracted.

Either you have characters getting back alley abortions or you contract HIV. These represent 2 different eras combined into one.

Scorpio2749 said...

I am kind of disappointed that you didn't see some of the real issues in For Colored Girls. The brother who refused to admit he was gay...he just liked to screw men. Is not this the type of denial/weak minded mentality that has negro women with the highest HIV infection rate in the country? You mentioned that men were portrayed as rapist, thieves, pimps, etc. What is the percentage of negro men incarcerated? The crime doesn't matter,the issue is large numbers of negro men CONTINUE to go to prison!! What about the brother who dropped his children out the window; do not our men come back from war (any war) suffering from PTSS? We read about white men not getting any help when they return, do we think our brothers are getting any help? And staying with that same relationship,did not Ms.Phylicia help Ms. Kimberly understand her role in the death of her children, by not doing something sooner? Did she not help her come to grips with that fact and breathe again. That was an indictment of women who allow men to abuse them and their children. The truth hurts and it is time negroes face the truth.

Anonymous said...

Clearly, Black women and Black men need to TALK! We are being defined by everyone (specifically White media/society) but US. So much is coming at us from so many ways, we MUST regain control if we are to SURVIVE!. It is almost as though we gave up somewhere along the line, and started believing the DEFINITIONS given us. For Colored Girls is a true depiction of "some" experiences of "some" Black women. "Some" Black men are "exactly" like those portrayed in the movie. At the same time there are loving, caring Black men in our communities that are, in fact, targeted by white society. Black women are loving, kind, devoted girlfriends, lovers, wives, etc., They too are vilified by white society with terms like, evil, baby mommas, bitches, ugly, etc., etc, It is ALL out there but we're NOT defining it we're bogged down by it. WE HAVE TO GET UP AND TALK - REJECTING WHAT WE ARE TOLD TO BELIEVE ABOUT "US" AND REACHING FOR THE WHOLENESS OF "US". We'll find good and bad, sadness and goodness, needy and strong but it will be "US" by our definition. We can draw on each other's strengths if we understand that we need each other (Black men and Black women) in order to Survive. Look at the stats about our community. We are dying. We need to talk honestly to each other. It is not in our interest to vilify. For Colored Girls portrays the hurt that is out there. No doubt Black men are hurting too. We've GOT to find a way to TALK in order to save ourselves. If this election didn't give you a wake up call, nothing will. WE ARE NOT EACH OTHER'S ENEMY. IT IS MEANT TO LOOK THAT WAY"

Anonymous said...

While the work is titled "for colored girls...", know that it could easily be titled,"for women..." regardless of color, socio-economic staus, or ethnicity.
It is unfortunate that many men would have negative and uncomfortable feelings after viewing this wonderful adaptation of the original work. It is not Tyler Perry who should be chastised. He merely took the work of another, and gave it life and a visual that many don't like seeing.
It is unfortunate that, instead of feeling "bashed" one should consider what can be done to end these behaviors, both from African-American men and women.
Take this opportunity to teach the children to be loved, responsible, respectful and resourceful in their actions. Mentor a male or female. Share the positive aspects of your professional or job activities.
Work positively with, and encourage the youth or children in your church, religious,social, and community affliations. So many people want someone else to take the time to teach our children. What do you do when you see our youth acting out in public, wearing clothes that reflect African-Americans negatively.
Live the life you want to see portrayed and encourage your personal relationships to do the same. Applaud Tyler Perry and those who are influential in their lives (esp. sports figures and entertainers) to share what can be accomplished with a dream, perseverence, and hard work!

megan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
megan said...

A little late to the party perhaps, but still a valid point I hope someone will consider.

As a writer, I believe like I believe in air, that everybody has a story to tell. That everything in life has a polar opposite. It must, they validate one another. And much like there can be no good without bad, no high without low, no left without right, there can be no righteous man without an evil one, black - white - or otherwise.

Could it be that instead of there being too many people telling the story of the black man who can't do right, that there is in fact too LITTLE people telling the story of the black man who can do no wrong? If you are this bothered by the surplus of the former, then perhaps consider grabbing a pen, and helping to eradicate the deficit of the latter. I, for one, and clearly so many others, are waiting for that story as well. But for me, that does not mean, that different stories should cease to be told.

One not-so-humble writer's opinion.

Much respect,