When I snuck and watched the film Friday (though I had previously sworn off any more TP movies), I sat thinking that you go see a for colored girls for all the collaborative, disciplined work of the black female actresses. You also go to see what can be considered the radical reality of having a black female playwright’s work be adapted for the Big Screen. It is this type of work that encourages these women, undoubtedly, to set aside their own critiques of TP, and of the overwhelmingly masculinst culture of Hollywood, and contribute to the only commercial feminist film production so far this millenium. There is no perfect feminism! Even if Shange had directed the work herself for a commercial audience she would have undoubtedly been plagued by some measure of heteronormativity (remember there are no alternative sexualities explicitly engaged in the play). She also may not have invoked any semblance of Diaspora (beyond the, arguably, Africanist religious practices of Alice/White in the film). She may; moreover, have likewise represented the fractured, discordant trajectories of black, brown, Ghanaian, Nigerian, refugee, African-American, Afro-American, hoodrat, babymama, buppie, butch . . . “colored” girls in a convenient, “framed” (as in frame story) social network, as if we all live in Harlem, by way of some African-American migration story, in a brownstone, or are seperated from a Harlem brownstone by one degree of separation at the most.
On the low, despite any warranted judgements of TP’s systematic Black Church narratives in all other films, I would like to suggest that Mr. Perry excercised a somewhat subversive move in the film. Piggybacking on Ntosake Shange’s assertion that “god” is a “her” (to be loved “fiercely”), I was struck by TP’s willingness to present all of the women together on the roof at the end, except Alice/White. He essentially ostracized the only outwardly religious character in the film.
Yes, there are ways in which Alice/White’s character did not represent traditional notions of Black Christianity in the play, particularly when she poured, “bacon grease,” as the woman sitting nearest to me in the theatre deciphered it to be, on to her daughter to pray over her. Yet, she was too holy to attend her daughter’s graduation party because they were playing the devil’s music. She also spent her days inundating Harlem residents with leaflets dutifully inviting them to her church. In her film poster, she literally totes the Bible. She is this new “colored” woman (there is no lady in white in the play) that TP deliberately includes to ultimately exclude.
Perhaps, after his “investment” in Precious, TP really is moving away from conservative Christian portrayals.
Tanji would like to apologize for purposely, and painfully, avoiding reading her colleague, LaToya’s post until today. Ironically, she was trying to avoid being “influenced” prior to her own screening of the film.