No thanks to the world according to Tyler Perry

2011-05-12 11:08

I really don’t like the world according to Tyler Perry. It’s one I could not live in.

I know saying that is much like stepping in front of a firing line of all his fans, waiting for Oprah Winfrey to give the go-ahead to “shoot the blasphemer down”.

But, I maintain, Perry has a serious self-hate complex and what some have called a “diva-worship” obsession and he has found a way to make millions off it.

Last night I attended the premiere for his latest film For Colored Girls, a screen adaptation of Ntozake Shange’s For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When The Rainbow Is Enuf. Having performed in the play as Lady In Brown back in high school, and given the importance the original piece has for black women all over the world, I was interested to see the film but approached it with due caution because Mr Perry just knows how to rub me up in a way I really don’t like to be rubbed up.

The film was long, heavy and intense. It forcefully called on emotions I’m not entirely comfortable engaging with, especially not in the company of 100 other strangers.

I have not yet seen a Tyler Perry movie that even suggests he could pull this one off, so I was not entirely surprised – just irritated. He writes for stock characters and stereotypes.

In his world black women are always angry, hurt and dealing with some turmoil, because they are either downtrodden damsels in distress or overly independent black widow spiders who can’t have healthy relationships and families.

And his black men are always depraved animals whose sole purpose is to terrorise women.

Luckily for Perry, he had Shange’s original script to fall back on and phenomenal actresses who brought the poetry to life (well, actually Janet Jackson never reaches the bar her co-performers raised).

There were scenes that hit hard, beautifully portrayed and will be etched in memory for a while but the melodrama that was used to string these scenes together was far from appreciated.

Pre-empting the negative reviews, Perry assured audiences three weeks before the movie’s release date that, “This movie is powerful. It is incredible. The performances in it are astonishing, but most of all this film will leave you lifted”.

Unfortunately the movie left me drained and disappointed.

And if Perry’s characters were anything to go by, I would hope to never meet a black man...ever, and would never strive for any amount of success or independence.

And that, for me, just won’t do.

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