Saturday, November 20, 2010

For Colored Girls: Seeing Red

After being very vocal about being Tyler Perry a less than favorite choice to direct an adaption of Ntozake Shange's "For Colored Girls who have considered suicide when the rainbow is enuf" or better known now as "For Colored Girls", I watched the movie feeling empty. I've seen myself in the colors of orange and green. I've empathized with the browns in my life. I know yellow and I know blue. Then there is RED.

I could spend time examining the issues I had with the movie. I could also celebrate the power of dynamic words used to express OUR stories of various hues, depths, and struggles. The color red, Janet Jackson's character, disturbed me. This development of this character reeks of Perry's own personal agenda. He wanted to talk about the down low situation. He wanted to bring in HIV and so he did.  In spite of Janet's less than wonderful acting abilities, I was interested in how her story would play itself out. I heard about her. This would speak to the professional black woman: busy, cold, unemotional, and troubled.  She can't relate to other women or her man. I feel like she was plucked from one of those youtube clips that have gone viral, laid out on my Facebook news feed for me to embrace as real, a reflection of who black women have become. RED.

Her husband is on the proverbial "down low".  [sigh]  Understand this. I co-facilitated a workshop with J.L.King before he wrote the book, "On the Down Low". I've done radio shows with them. I understand this issue.  I was disappointed that this was presented in this manner.  Black women and HIV is a serious issue but data does not support the notion that women are getting HIV from bisexual black men.  Perry went for dramatics and not responsibility. In the HIV/AIDS field, we have had to rework, undo, and convince women that they are not victims of HIV and bisexual men but they are ultimately responsible for their sexual health.

But then there's the cough. 

Who told Janet to cough to display she was "sick"?  We are not in the 80's. I was pissed. We do so much to reduce stigma around HIV/AIDS.  Was she suppose to have an AIDS diagnosis? Irresponsible but it was Perry wanting this storyline to happen.  He wanted this in but did more harm in my opinion.  He tried to counter it with Loretta's character teaching about HIV to a group of women its appreciated but that can't stand up against the dramatic HIV/down low moment.  Irresponsible. Maybe I can't appreciate the attempt. I believe his intent was to be relevant with this story. I was angered. RED.

At the end of the day, its not about Tyler's movie but Shange's masterful work which pushes through Mr. Perry's limited abilities. Every time I hear the poetry, my spirit connects and responds with tears, sighs, and memories.  My rainbow, sometimes, wasn't enough so I'm at least thankful that women who would have never picked up Ntozake's work can at least have somewhat an experience of seeing themselves in Perry's take on For Colored Girls.   There's so much more I could say and want to say but this is enuf.

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