From Black Voices/By Gina McCauley — When Tyler Perry moved up the release date for his latest flick, ‘For Colored Girls,’he also expedited the traditional pre-release anguish of his critics. ‘For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf’ is a classic tome of African American literature, and to some the maker of ‘Meet the Browns’ shouldn’t be allowed within a mile of this project. Yet there he is, and there are those top-rate black actresses, and here we all are again debating how many years it will take for Tyler Perry to single-handedly plunge all of black culture backwards permanently to the coon times.
Despite the all-star cast, breathless anticipation is not what appears to be greeting the release of the first trailer for this movie. Over at Deadline Hollywood Daily, the comments section on Perry-related posts are more heated than I’ve ever seen them.Shadow and Act complains that Tyler Perry gets entirely too much credit for doing the same things other black moviemakers have done in the past — giving black actors work. Helena Andrews, is ‘afraid — very afraid‘ — of what this movie will do to the text that was her childhood totem. I wasn’t enraptured with the trailer myself. In fact I have already referred to it as “Precious… the Ensemble Cast.”
As there is no Madea character to bemoan this go round (at least I hope she doesn’t make a cameo as ‘The Woman in Calico’), the complaint most critics have of ‘For Colored Girls: The Movie’ is that Tyler Perry is unworthy of the privilege of working with these actresses and this material. To many critics, these amazing black actresses appearing in a Tyler Perry production is like Derek Jeter being forced to play for theRichmond Flying Squirrels.
I remember the first time I saw a Tyler Perry production. I was a captive audience of one stuck in a chair at the beauty salon when my beautician popped ‘Madea’s Family Reunion’ into the DVD player. I couldn’t have imagined that this loud gospel melodrama with crappy lighting and sound would be a stepping stone to Tyler directing Phylicia Rashad, Janet Jackson, Thandie Newton, Loretta Devine, Anika Noni Rose, Angela Bassett, Cicely Tyson and Taraji P. Henson. But, I should have been clued in by the rapt attention and devotion of all of the women who worked in the salon. But then again, that’s why Tyler’s rich and I’m not. He saw an opportunity that many others didn’t and he’s profited from it. And now he’s enjoying the fruits of his labor — being able to make movies we’d rather he not. ;-)