Last night, Movieline released some disturbing info about Tyler Perry’s film adaptation of Ntozake Shange’s For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf:
Maybe Tyler Perry got tired of having to constantly say, “Precious: Based on the Novel Push By Sapphire”? Whatever the reason, Movieline has confirmed that Lionsgate shortened the title of Perry’s award season ensembler For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf to just For Colored Girls (the new title just got its debut in these character posters).
First Perry ousts a black female director and now he edits down the title? Nsenga Burton provided an account of the director controversy at The Root weeks ago:
The process of adapting For Colored Girls to the big screen is one example of what can happen when black female filmmakers try to make movies centered around the lives of African-American women. Nzingha Stewart is matter-of-fact as she recounts what happened: “I wrote a draft. The draft enabled me to option the script. I started sending it out to actresses, and everybody was really excited. We then took it to a studio. Tyler [Perry] became involved, and now the movie is getting made.” What she doesn’t say is this: The blogosphere blew up with outrage when it was reported that Stewart originally had been tapped to direct but Perry pushed her out of the director’s chair.
So here’s the deal: often when Shange’s project is referred to, usually on the second reference, it goes by the abbreviated “For Colored Girls.” But it’s an entirely different matter to market the film without the complete title. In doing so, Perry obscures the fact that this project is about the range of intense emotions displayed by women of color. The notion of considering suicide and the spectrum of the rainbow fully captures the nuanced emotional state of women of color. The shortened title reduces the project to a film simply for women of color without context.
These developments make me really weary about what else has been left out or cast aside. One scene that many feminists will be watching out for is the gripping account from the Lady in Blue on her decision to have an abortion. While I am trying to be optimistic, these indicators aren’t a good look for what Shange set out to do with this life-altering play, a work of art that has touched the lives of so many women.