Friday, November 12, 2010

Miss Moon's Musing About: "For Colored Girls".. and the Backlash

“ When I die, I will not be guilty of having left a generation of girls behind thinking that anyone can tend to their emotional health other than themselves.”
-- Ntozake Shange

I admit to being more than a little bit nervous when I learned that Tyler Perry was taking on "For Colored Girls", primarily because he is a relatively young director and I thought he may not have the chops to take on such a important piece of work. Despite my fears, I vowed to go see the movie due to my love and adoration for the works of Ntozake Shange. And despite the anger and controversy surrounding the film, I am very much looking forward to seeing the movie this weekend.

The backlash to this movie isn't really surprising to me. When "The Color Purple" came out, it received a similar backlash (Check Out Alice Walker's Book "The Same River Twice: Honoring the Difficult" which chronicles her experience making the movie and the aftermath).

I will never truly understand why there is always this feeling of betrayal that is talked about and discussed when a movie is about black women and actually tackles serious issues. Think about the opinion pieces that were written in response to “The Color Purple” and “Waiting to Exhale”.

Are all black men abusive, alcoholic, evil beings who only spread chaos and despair in a black woman's life? Absolutely not. Should we ignore the fact that there ARE men like “Mister” or “Beau Willie” in the world? Should we ignore the fact that as you read these words, a woman somewhere is being abused? We should not!!! And we shouldn't prevent a woman from relating and seeing their lives, or the lives of their Mothers portrayed on the silver screen. I can talk about the way women are portrayed in classic movies that are geared to black men (New Jack City, Boyz in the Hood, etc.), but I am not interested in turning the tables.

The contempt and fear of “For Colored Girls” is strangely reminiscent to me of plantation owners fearing groups of slaves assembling. There is nothing wrong with women sharing their stories with each other: the good, the bad, their fear, anger, frustration, passion and their hope.

Black women have always had to be strong for their families, for their communities... often at the expense of their own personal development. Why is a black woman's journey to “find God” in herself tantamount to selling out in some way? A fantastic part of life is finding a connection: to God, to each other, to life, to one's own sense of purpose, and to deny any woman (or any man for that matter) the chance to find that connection is sinful.

This movie can be considered a great opportunity to discuss the impact of substance abuse, of rape, of domestic violence and how it affects our culture. To ignore this opportunity by debating Tyler Perry's worthiness as a director, Janet Jackson's acting prowess and even if this movie is “male-bashing” is a disservice to women and children in need of our love, our protection and our respect.

We gotta dance to keep from cryin
We gotta dance to keep from dyin
So come on
Come on
Come on
Hold yr head like it was a ruby sapphire

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