There's been alot of outrage in certain circles behind reports that filmaker Tyler Perry is on-board to write and direct a screen adaption of Ntozake Shange’s play “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow Is Enuf.” Shange's work resonates with a generation of young black women eager to define themselves outside of society's conventions, and as well it should. But I can't think of anyone better to handle this project than Tyler Perry, and I don't mind telling you why.
I think we sometimes have romantic relationships with literature and have a way we'd like to see that dignified, should these works ever go to the big screen. But Hollywood isn't in the business of preserving your feelings about a given material. Hollywood is in business to make money. Given that at the top, nobody in black Hollywood is winning like Tyler Perry. Whatever you think of the quality of his work, Perry has the chops as a writer and director and the box-office sex-appeal to make "Colored Girls" a hit. The crap about whether he will give it the chitlin' treatment or whether or not a black man can tell a black woman's story is ridiculous. Steven Speilberg managed to do Alice Walker justice and Forest Whitaker brought Terry Macmillan's work to the screen fairly intact. Sisters do great screen work but that rarely, if ever, translated to box-office gold, and that's the name of the game. If black women telling black women's stories mattered as much as some people say, seems like they would come out in hordes to support that kind of work. But they don't. The fact is that nobody is winning in Hollywood quite like Tyler Perry. Make of that what you will.
There are rumblings on black female empowerment blogs (wtf?) about boycotting the film, and that would be a dummy-move. The last thing we need is for studios to shy away from telling and adapting black stories for the screen for fear of economic failure due to public outrage. What, you would boycott Tyler Perry's "Colored Girls" but got twop tickets on Fandango to be first to see "Big Momma's House 3?" Get your mind right.
I'm glad to see Shange's work make it to the screen, and unless you have a string hit movies in your pocket and the box-office pull to get it poppin' trust that Tyler Perry is the man for the job. And I promise you that many of the same blogs coming out to take down Tyler Perry will be among those telling you to go see it twice.
Single Father, Author, Screenwriter, Award-Winning Journalist, NPR Moderator, Lecturer and College Professor. Habitual Line-Stepper