Hatin' on "Colored Girls"
Sunday, November 7, 2010
Boston Globe critics Ty Burr, left, and Wesley Morris review "For Colored Girls." Morris said, "It’s too much — too much screaming, too much crying, too much preaching, too much reaching, too much healing, too much feeling, and, by the time a man dangles two small black children from an apartment window, it’s too much too-much." (Video)
The hatin' on Tyler Perry's film "For Colored Girls" was so intense that Ronda Racha Penrice, writing on theGrio.com, had to find solace in the opening weekend's box office take:
"Negative reviews from respected film critics like The Hollywood Reporter's Kirk Honeycutt, who proclaimed Tyler Perry's For Colored Girls . . . 'this train wreck of a movie' didn't keep black female filmgoers away. Although Friday night's box office numbers suggested that 'For Colored Girls' was on pace to gross $28 million, its actual weekend box office receipts of $20.1 million are more than respectable," Penrice wrote on Monday.
"In an age when most black films must fight to get just a thousand screens, 'For Colored Girls,' according to BoxOfficeMojo, played on nearly 2,900 screens in 2,127 theaters, averaging a healthy $9,450" per screen. "Those numbers may mean little to you but, in Hollywood, they are huge. With a reported total production budget of $21 million, a $20.1 million opening means that 'For Colored Girls' will be profitable. Hopefully, that also means that more black directors besides Tyler Perry will get to make films starring black people."
Then she got to the hatin'.
"Mainstream reviews of the film have been laced with a viciousness rarely seen when evaluating the work of other filmmakers. ' "For Colored Girls" is so shamelessly terrible it would make a great midnight hoot-fest, if you had the stomach to laugh at Shange or some of the best (and most underused) actresses of their generation: Kimberly Elise, Kerry Washington, Anika Noni Rose, Phylicia Rashad, and, as a cartoon sexpot, Thandie Newton, who gets by on her killer timing,' writes New York Magazine's David Edelstein. The Boston Globe's Wesley Morris, who is African-American, began his review with 'Tyler Perry is no stranger to kitchen-sink melodrama. But "For Colored Girls" is the kitchen sink, the washing machine, the curling iron, the sofa, and the ironing board.' "
"For Colored Girls," based on Ntozake Shange's 1975 "choreopoem" that became a classic, was the cultural event of the weekend for much of black America.
And there were in fact a few kind words.
Jenice Armstrong wrote in the Philadelphia Daily News, " 'For Colored Girls,' inspired by Ntozake Shange's 1975 poetic play, isn't the movie to see if you're feeling fragile. But if you're in a healthy place, definitely go. Just take Kleenex and a girlfriend because you're going to want to talk it out afterward. Phylicia Rashad, Loretta Devine, Elise and Thandie Newton tear the screen up. Elise, in particular, puts on an Oscar-worthy performance in her role as a battered mother who goes to hell and back after witnessing the unthinkable. My favorite line comes near the end, when Elise's character declares, 'I found God in myself and I loved her fiercely.' What a lesson there is in that."
But the headline on Courtland Milloy's column Monday in the Washington Post was, "For black men who have considered homicide after watching another Tyler Perry movie."
And Teresa Wiltz wrote on theRoot.com, "It's an exceedingly hard slog, 2 hours and 14 minutes of overwrought melodrama, bleaker than bleak, and unleavened by humor or wit."
Keli Goff, writing on theLoop21.com, said that considering all that she has read about the film, she's reached her own conclusion. "I simply remain as on the fence about seeing 'For Colored Girls' as I’ve been on the fence about other recent films with similarly negative reviews," she said.
"And I’ve ultimately decided to wait to see those on Netflix. (For the record, I read the somewhat positive review in the New York Times, one of the film’s few, but the critic, Manohla Dargis, lost credibility points with me the moment she declared that part of Mr. Perry’s baggage is that 'Black people love him and white people don’t get him.' Um, this black person would like you to try again Ms. Dargis.)"
- Abdul Ali, theRoot.com: http://www.theroot.com/views/wheres-colored-girls-men
" target="_blank">'For Colored Girls,' Not for Black Men
- Jenice Armstrong, Philadelphia Daily News: 'Colored Girls' isn't easy viewing
- Karen Grigsby Bates, NPR: 'For Colored Girls' Counts On Fans, Not Critics
- David Germain, Associated Press: 'For Colored Girls' Takes Third at Box Office
- Keli Goff, theLoop.21: Do I have to go see 'For Colored Girls'?
- Lee Hill, "Tell Me More," NPR: Finding A Place For Colored Boys
- Esther Iverem, SeeingBlack.com: The Colored House of Pain
- Annette John-Hall, Philadelphia Inquirer: 'For Colored Girls' truths are undeniable, including Tyler Perry's role
- Wil LaVeist, New Journal & Guide, Norfolk, Va.: What's in it for 'Colored' Men?
- Wesley Morris, Boston Globe: For Colored Girls: ‘Precious’ on steroids: Stars can’t save director from overreaching
- Christopher Nelson, theGrio.com: For Colored Girls' author finds 'few flaws' in film version
- Kevin Powell, daily Kos: Tyler Perry’s ‘For Colored Girls’
- TheRoot.com: All About 'For Colored Girls' - Reviews, Photos, Videos and Commentary
- Mychal Denzel Smith, theGrio.com: Does Tyler Perry have a problem with black men?
- Goldie Taylor, theGrio.com: 'For Colored Girls': Tyler Perry's closest film to perfection
- Teresa Wiltz, theRoot.com: 'For Colored Girls,' the Movie: How Tyler Perry turned an artistic classic into a crude cartoon
The National Association of Hispanic Journalists, wrestling with an ongoing financial crisis, has decided "to nullify chapters that have been inactive for more than a year and reclaim their share of membership dues," and, as an emergency measure for 2011, to claim all incoming dues, funds that had been split 50-50 with local chapters, President Michele Salcedo announced Friday on the NAHJ website.
"The convention numbers are in. Without allocating the cost of staff time to the convention, we made money," she began.
"I wish I could tell you that’s good news, but here’s why it’s not: When staff time and other overhead are factored in, our profit is more than wiped out. The convention is NAHJ’s main moneymaker, and we were counting on making a substantial chunk of our revenue for 2010 from the convention. Falling short means we have to find other sources of income. With an economic climate as tough as the one we’re in, that’s no easy task."
Brandon A. Benavides, president of the Washington, D.C., chapter, one of NAHJ's most active, told Journal-isms, "This was a complete surprise to us. We were not told this was in effect. Nor were we told this was being considered.
"We were planing to use the funding as seed money for a chapter conference in the spring. We lost up to $3,000 for local programming. Right now we get $35 from each member. We have more than 100 local members.
"The chapter board is discussing its options. We have a membership meeting on Wednesday at NPR headquarters at 7 PM." He sent a similar message to members.
Presidents of other active chapters did not respond to inquiries.
The group No Wedding No Womb opposes "the rampant births of children who are born without physical, financial and emotional protection."
"One recent day at Dr. Natalie Carroll's OB-GYN practice, located inside a low-income apartment complex tucked between a gas station and a freeway, 12 pregnant black women come for consultations. Some bring their children or their mothers. Only one brings a husband," Jesse Washington, the Associated Press' race relations reporter, wrote from Houston on Saturday.
"Things move slowly here. Women sit shoulder-to-shoulder in the narrow waiting room, sometimes for more than an hour. Carroll does not rush her mothers in and out. She wants her babies born as healthy as possible, so Carroll spends time talking to the mothers about how they should care for themselves, what she expects them to do — and why they need to get married.
"Seventy-two percent of black babies are born to unmarried mothers today, according to government statistics. This number is inseparable from the work of Carroll, an obstetrician who has dedicated her 40-year career to helping black women.
" 'The girls don't think they have to get married. I tell them children deserve a mama and a daddy. They really do,' Carroll says from behind the desk of her office, which has cushioned pink-and-green armchairs, bars on the windows, and a wooden 'LOVE' carving between two African figurines. Diamonds circle Carroll's ring finger.
"As the issue of black unwed parenthood inches into public discourse, Carroll is among the few speaking boldly about it. And as a black woman who has brought thousands of babies into the world, who has sacrificed income to serve Houston's poor, Carroll is among the few whom black women will actually listen to.
" 'A mama can't give it all. And neither can a daddy, not by themselves,' Carroll says. 'Part of the reason is because you can only give that which you have. A mother cannot give all that a man can give. A truly involved father figure offers more fullness to a child's life.'
"Statistics show just what that fullness means. Children of unmarried mothers of any race are more likely to perform poorly in school, go to prison, use drugs, be poor as adults, and have their own children out of wedlock.
"The black community's 72 percent rate eclipses that of most other groups: 17 percent of Asians, 29 percent of whites, 53 percent of Hispanics and 66 percent of Native Americans were born to unwed mothers in 2008, the most recent year for which government figures are available. The rate for the overall U.S. population was 41 percent."
In politicians' latest effort to spin the language, Republicans lined up on the Sunday talk shows to define as "Obamacare" the health-care legislation they say they would repeal. To their credit, the journalists resisted the spin, except in quoting Republicans.
Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., used the term six times on NBC's "Meet the Press"; Sen.-elect Rand Paul, R-Ky., once on ABC's "This Week"; and Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota once again on CNN's "State of the Union." On that program, however, moderator Candy Crowley found herself using it in quoting Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., in a letter to House Republicans. "If all of Obamacare cannot be immediately repealed, then it is my intention to begin repealing it piece by piece, blocking funding for its implementation and blocking the issuance of the regulations necessary to implement it. In short, it is my intention to use every tool at our disposal to achieve full repeal of Obamacare," Cantor wrote, according to Crowley.
On "Fox News Sunday," regular panelist Bill Kristol, editor of the conservative Weekly Standard, worked in the phrase no fewer than nine times, three in the same passage.
"What the issue does point out is the power of headlines, the dangers we all face over being politically manipulated by word usage and the inexact science of deciding when a term has entered the popular lexicon and is acceptable," Schumacher-Matos wrote.
Meanwhile, in an interview that aired Sunday on CBS-TV'S "60 Minutes," President Obama defended his many recent media appearances. CBS correspondent Steve Kroft pointed out that the president has been on everything from "The View" to "The Daily Show," Molly Stark reported for TV Newser.
Obama replied, "I guess my attitude is if I’m reaching people, if I’m talking to them. If I’m engaged with them, whatever the venue, then hopefully that makes people a little clear about what it is that I’m trying to do, and understand the challenges that we face. And so I’m willing to take the risks of overexposure on that front."
In another development, Robert L. Johnson, co-founder of Black Entertainment Television, sent a letter urging the Congressional Black Caucus to support Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., in his bid for House Minority Whip. Current House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland said he might seek the same post. Clyburn is currently House majority whip.
"The Democrats’ loss of the U.S. House majority in Tuesday’s election will cost them the powerful speaker’s position, which current House Minority Leader John Boehner will assume in January when the new congressional session starts with Republicans in control of the chamber," James Rosen and David Lightman explained Monday for McClatchy Newspapers.
"That means there will be one fewer House leadership [spot] for Democrats. Clyburn and Hoyer indicated neither of them is willing yet to be odd man out."
In a new memoir excerpted on the CNN website, Soledad O'Brien, who has an Irish Australian father and black Cuban mother, recalls the day "Jesse Jackson managed to make me ashamed of my skin color which even white people had never been able to do.
"Even though I am not sure what he is saying, I can tell he is angry," she writes in "The Next Big Story." "Today he is angry because CNN doesn't have enough black anchors. It is political season. There are billboards up sporting Paula Zahn and Anderson Cooper. He asks after the black reporters. Why are they not up there? I share his concern and make a mental note to take it back to my bosses. But then he begins to rage that there are no black anchors on the network at all. Does he mean covering the campaign, I wonder to myself? The man has been a guest on my show. He knows me, even if he doesn't recall how we met. I brought him on at MSNBC, then again at 'Weekend Today'. I interrupt to remind him I'm the anchor of 'American Morning'. He knows that. He looks me in the eye and reaches his fingers over to tap a spot of skin on my right hand. He shakes his head. 'You don't count,' he says. I wasn't sure what that meant. I don't count — what? I'm not black? I'm not black enough? Or my show doesn't count?
"I was both angry and embarrassed, which rarely happens at the same time for me. Jesse Jackson managed to make me ashamed of my skin color which even white people had never been able to do.
". . . It wasn't until recently that I called him and reminded him of what he'd said to me that day. I had done 4 documentaries on race in between the two conversations. He was totally surprised and barely remembered the details. He had not known I was black! He said he honestly did not know, that when he said I didn't count he was alluding to the fact that he thought I was a dark-skinned someone else. That is how precise the game of race is played in our country, that we are so easily reduced to our skin tone. That even someone as prominent in African American society as Rev. Jackson has a box to check for black and one for white. No one gets to be in between. I thanked him for his candor."
O'Brien, who was named 2010 Journalist of the Year by the National Association of Black Journalists, concludes, "Black is not a credential; it's not even a skin color. African American culture is so much more than that. I feel like it's important to say 'I'm black.' I'm proud of my roots. I am a bit Irish too, by way of Australia. Should I not say that? I am certainly Latina. Latino is an ethnicity, not a race. Latinos can be of any color from any place. I can be Latino and also black. So why can't I have a father from Australia but be black when my mother is black. People looked at me all my life and saw black. And, I am thoroughly proud of the black I am.' "
The American Society of News Editors Monday announced "a two-day summit of Mexican and U.S. editors, press freedom monitors and government officials, to be held next month in the border city of El Paso, Texas. The summit will focus on the startling violence unfolding against journalists in the region, and will look for solutions to what has become one of the most deadly and vexing journalism issues in the hemisphere.
"The meeting will take place at the University of Texas-El Paso on Dec. 5-6, and will be organized in conjunction with the Inter American Press Association.
"The goal of the program, which will be presented in English and Spanish, is to draw on resources, ideas and leadership in both Mexico and the U.S., to begin to identify a response to the violence that has taken the lives of at least 11 journalists in Mexico this year."
ASNE President Milton Coleman, senior editor at the Washington Post, has learned Spanish and interacts with Latin American news executives through the Inter American Press Association, of which he is an officer. Next year's ASNE convention is to be held in San Diego in conjunction with the IAPA.
- Committee to Protect Journalists: Mexican reporter killed in Matamoros crossfire
Dr. Rawle Farley, a native of Guyana, had been a professor of economics at the State University of New York, College at Brockport since 1966. He was the founder and first chairman of the Department of Economics at SUNY Brockport, and was named professor emeritus in 1995. He was the author of seminal works that helped shape the study of the economics of the developing world, including "The Economics of Latin America: Development Problems in Perspective."
He died in Rochester, N.Y., at age 88 on Saturday, and his journalist son, Christopher John Farley of the Wall Street Journal, wrote that day that "On shows like 'House,' ailments are exotic and are diagnosed and solved in 60 minutes, with a couple commercial interruptions. On TV talk shows, talking heads scrap over health care policy and try to score political points. What’s typically missing is the human element — how health care decisions actually affect flesh-and-blood people. . . .
"My dad and mom raised four sons. All of us went to public school, and all of us went to Harvard or Harvard Law School or both. All of my brothers, thanks in large part to their guidance, have gone on to interesting jobs of one kind or another.
"But this last night was a final lesson. Part of reaching maturity is accepting, without fear, that life ends. Staring into that mysterious abyss makes other challenges seem small. I felt privileged that I had gotten to go to the edge with him. Dad helped teach me how to live, and how to die too."
The author of this column has been named the 2010 recipient of the Oakland PEN's censorship award, because of his "tireless chronicling of disappearing minority viewpoints from the nation's newsrooms, an act of de facto censorship as we see it," writer and novelist Ishmael Reed, the board chairman, said.
Lifetime achievement awards are to go to Paul Krassner, the satirist best known for his 1960s magazine the Realist, and Vance Bourjaily, the novelist who died in September. The ceremony is to take place Dec. 11 at the Oakland Public Library.
PEN Oakland is "a Bay Area Chapter of the International Organization of Poets, Essayists, and Novelists" and "was founded in 1989 to address multicultural issues, and educate the public as to the nature of multicultural work."
Among past winners of the censorship award are Kitty Kelly, author of 2004's "The Family: The Real Story of the Bush Dynasty," which met with the Bush family's displeasure, and Jefferson Morley, a 15-year journalist at the Washington Post whose 2008 book, "Our Man in Mexico: Winston Scott and the Hidden History of the CIA," discusses the man who was CIA chief in Mexico from 1956 to 1969.
Richard Prince has written the Journal-isms column online for the Maynard Institute since 2002, and in print from 1991 to 1998 for the NABJ Journal, publication of the National Association of Black Journalists.
In 2009, the American Society of News Editors reported that in the previous year alone American daily newspapers shed 5,900 newsroom jobs last year, reducing their employment of journalists by 11.3 percent to the levels of the early 1980s. The loss has blunted diversity efforts.
- "Uptown Media: the lifestyle magazine serving affluent black readers in Washington DC, Chicago, Atlanta, NYC, Charlotte, Detroit and Philadelphia is boosting its circulation from six issues per year to eight, kicking off with the March 2011 issue. The rate base will also increase, from 200,000 to 225,000," Alex Alvarez wrote Monday for Fishbowl NY.
- "Keith Olbermann's 'indefinite' suspension from MSNBC turns out to be definitely short: two days," Paul Farhi wrote Monday in the Washington Post. "Olbermann, the host of the prime-time program 'Countdown,' was suspended by MSNBC on Friday after news broke that he'd contributed a total of $7,200 to three Democratic candidates in October." Olbermann apologized to his fans — but not to NBC News — on Monday for the "unnecessary drama," David Bauder reported for the Associated Press.
- Perry Bacon , Washington Post political reporter, "will take on a new role: following the president," Post editors announced Monday in outlining changes in the White House and congressional beats. "He will be the reporter who most closely tracks the president’s movements, traveling with him often and mining the daily schedule for newsy developments, features, analyses and surprises. Perry is an astute analyst of the political landscape and will bring a fresh voice to the second phase of the Obama presidency."
- "The December issue will be our last print monthly sent to subscribers," U.S. News & World Report executives told the staff on Friday. "We're finally ready to complete our transition to a predominantly digital publishing model. . . . Going forward, our non-subscription print offerings will be for newsstand sale and targeted distribution. They'll include the college and grad guides, as well as hospital and personal finance guides. In addition, we’ll publish four other newsstand special editions, focusing on history, religion and some of the other subjects that have been a success for us in the past."
- "ESPN ended its 20-year association with Jon Miller and Joe Morgan as the voices of 'Sunday Night Baseball' on Monday. They declined to renew Morgan’s contract and have asked Miller if he wants to stay on as the radio voice of the Sunday night games. Discussions are ongoing," Richard Sandomir reported Monday for the New York Times.
- The pending merger of Comcast and NBC Universal bodes well for Telemundo, NBC's Spanish-language network, according to Ronald Gordon, president of the Telemundo Television Station Group. He told TV Newscheck's Kevin Downey on Sunday, "I think Comcast is excited about having a Spanish-language platform. Based on my experience and relationship with Comcast, they are very committed to localism. They want to be very engaged locally. It’s part of their culture. We are lined up [with them] in that respect. It speaks well for the future of our stations."
- "Wherever he goes, people lower their voices, stiffen their diaphragms and give him their version of his signature, staccato sign-off: Jesse Jones. (Millisecond pause for effect.) KING-5 News," Debby Abe wrote Sunday for the Tacoma (Wash.) News Tribune, profiling the consumer affairs reporter. "When the KING-5 reporter takes on a case, viewers see companies big and small suddenly fulfill warranties, issue refunds and replace defective merchandise."
- "The deadline expired yesterday. The Cuban government promised the Spanish government, the Cuban Catholic church and the international community that within four months it would free all the prisoners still held since the 'Black Spring' crackdown of March 2003. The four months were up yesterday and the promise has not been kept," Reporters Without Borders said on Monday. "Thirteen of these detainees are still in prison. They include three journalists: Pedro Argüelles Morán, Héctor Maseda Gutiérrez and Iván Hernández Carrillo. The reason for the broken promise is unfortunately known only too well. The thirteen still held are refusing to go into exile, which is the Castro regime’s condition for their release."
- Reporting on the Horn of Africa, "the Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes the presidential pardon and release today of radio journalist Abdifatah Jama, who was imprisoned in August for airing an interview with an Islamist rebel leader in the semi-autonomous region of Puntland," the press freedom organization said on Monday. "CPJ had repeatedly called for his release."
- "Burma must immediately release Toru Yamaji, a reporter with Tokyo-based APF news agency, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Yamaji, 49, was detained Sunday in Myawaddy, on the country's eastern border with Thailand while trying to cover the country's first elections in two decades, according to international media reports, which quoted Japan's embassy in Rangoon," the committee said on Monday. "CPJ research shows that Burma has at least 12 journalists behind bars." Meanwhile, Stephanie Guyer-Stevens of the Center for Investigative Reporting reported Monday that "The reality of Burma's election yesterday is quite different from the 'quiet day' reported on state-run news media."
Richard Prince's Journal-isms originates from Washington and is published Monday, Wednesday and Friday. It began in print before most of us knew what the Internet was, and it would like to be referred to as a "column." For newcomers: The words in blue (on most computers) are links leading to more information. The Web site BugMeNot.com provides passwords and user names to some registration-only news sites, but use may be illegal in some states. Any views expressed in the column are those of the person or organization quoted and not those of any other entity.
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