A writer posted his critique of For Colored Girls a few weeks ago. Another Black man bashing movie by Tyler Perry, is what he labeled it. “Why couldn’t there be a movie about good black men,” he asked. This was just another method to make Black women bitter, he accused.
I wonder if he actually saw the movie. The same movie that haunted me into my sleep. The one about the women, who carried within them the misery that would cause anyone to lose their minds.
Did he read the choreopoem by Ntozake Shange from 1975? The one that vividly illiterates the secrets, hidden so deep in these women that they can only be spoken of in prose and given life through color?
Has he met these women, who came to life on the screen, and labeled them bitter, whores, crazy, nosey and sinful? Perhaps not. But maybe so. That explains how wrong one could be. The movie was not about the evils of men, it was about those things. Those secrets. Those miseries. Those tears not cried. That we bury deep. So deep that the only escape is to escape from the body and mind that contain them. Or so is the thought of those trapped in it, until they find their escape. Sweet freedom.
It haunted me. In the theater, my eyes got wet, but I couldn’t cry. It haunted me. They looked so familiar.
I talked to a friend after the movie. He said you know that was fiction right? The story may have been one crafted through the artistry of a poetess, a writer, a visionary. It may have been formulated into a film by a playwright, a cinematographer, a filmmaker…but those stories were real.
I’ve met those women. Every last one of them. I see them every day. I have stared them face to face. Caught glimpses of them in reflective pools. I know those scars, intimately. And there they were on the screen in vivid colors.
Those secrets that torment…and carry you to the edge…revealed through the most traumatizing ways… On a cold table with instruments of death, prepared to give you your life back. The rise and thrust of flesh, swelling within your flesh, meant to fill a void dug so deep that the only way to deal with it, is to not deal at all. The fleeting pain of being in love not controlled, leaving you bare…naked…scared…scarred.
And to know that there were others who have been there before you. And it continues on. Those were the images that haunted me. SCREAMED AT ME…taunted me…When I see them again…in real life. Will I be like Jo (Red) and say I don’t see them? Like Crystal (Brown) and try to love them away, while pretending they aren’t there. Like Tangy (Orange) and repeat them with each escapade? Like Juanita (Green) and not practice what I preach to my sisters?
Like Yasmine (Yellow) and fear every step I take in an uncertain path? Like Kelly (Blue) and carry with me the scars of my past, pussed over and unhealed? Like Nyla (Purple) and try to hide it, while risking everything? Like Alice (White) and try to pray it all away without dealing with the reality of it all? Or will I be like Gilda and pull it all together in the end. Sharing the truth, removing the scars and seeing the rainbow through all the storms?
I don’t know. But Tyler put it all on the screen in the most perfect way. And I applaud him. For the first time, I see a literary work truly come to life on the screen. Bravo!
For the version of Four Women performed by Kelly Price, Jill Scott, Ledisi and Marsha Ambrosius go here.