Hey Oscar Why Wasn’t “For Colored Girls” Enuf?

I am pissed off about the Oscars.

First of all, what am I missing about The Social Network that everyone else is raving about? That long-ass dry-as-burnt-toast movie about spoiled genius privileged nerds fighting over who made Facebook first? Aww! Boo hoo ::snifffle stomp stomp sniffle::  someone made more money than you on a website!


I couldn’t even finish The Social Network because it was so painfully boring and obnoxious.

So. Jesse Eisenberg (who I like) gets an Oscar nom for playing a socially awkward nerd douchebag?


But no love for ANY of the women in For Colored Girls?

Nicole Kidman’s boring ass gets nominated EVERY DAMN YEAR for an Oscar! Is there a clause in her contract that says “no matter what role I play, I must get nominated for an Oscar?” Must be nice to make the same facial expressions in every single movie and get awarded for that shit.


Ok — the movie DEFINITELY has its shortcomings:

1) The writing. So, I’m a writer and I don’t wanna shit too hard on anyone else’s writing… but the words from Ntozake Shange’s Obie-Award-winning play, For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf, are spellbinding and utterly beautiful.

The words from Tyler Perry’s screenplay are cringe-worthy.

2) Just because Janet Jackson plays a fashion editor does not mean she’s required to throw a tantrum and yell GET BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD! at her team. Yeah, no.

3) I do not EVER really appreciate how rape scenes are handled in movies — they’re usually unnecessary. In Colored Girls, their decision to cut in a brutal rape scene with an opera performance was distracting — rape is VIOLENT. I feel like sometimes filmmakers try to make them more graphic or violent for a movie’s sake and they never need to be — rape is pretty fucking violent all on its own.

But. For Colored Girls held itself together beautifully on the strength of its actors.

For your consideration…

Anika Noni Rose

Brilliant. I want to date her in this movie.  Her character speaks Spanish and dances and cooks.  She is delicate and poised and broken.  Effortless. She is the one that is raped… and somehow she ends the movie filled with strength.


Thandie Newton

Fucking rocked my world! She plays a brassy badass. In her character’s own words “I’m not a prostitute. I just like to fuck.” ahahahahaha! But even with Showgirls-esque lines like that — her performance is gut-wrenching.


Kimberly Elise

Her man throws her kids out of the fucking window. Shouldn’t that get a chick an OSCAR NOM???? Her acting killed me.  She played the role of an abused girlfriend/babymoms with such nuance and honesty.  I wanted to die with her.


Loretta DEvine

Now if you have followed Miz Devine’s career, you will know that she’s been in EVERYTHING. She even has her own “Loretta Devine” way of acting — it’s kinda like “BET meets Lifetime.” BUT in For Colored Girls she is on her grizzzzz with the acting.  She outdoes herself in believability and connectedness.


Michael ealy

Is fiiiinnneee BUT he also puts his acting chops to the test playing an emotionally destroyed war veteran with a drinking problem who [SPOILER ALERT!] tosses his kids out the damn window. Oh, it goes there. He finds the line between overdoing it and creating a believably distraught individual.

I think Hollywood gets mad uncomfortable when African-American cinema steps outside of the comfort zone it’s been placed in. This movie ain’t Soul Plane, but it also ain’t Precious.

The women in this film are in all different types of relationships and come from diverse economic backgrounds.  Perry shows them at work in offices, in dance studios, hitting the streets like a social worker, bartending, housekeeping, being a damn personal assistant.  These women are everywhere.

Perry also took some admirable risks with his music choices and edits. He effectively mixed play monologues in with the narrative action of the film, even intercutting two monologues together during a pivotal scene between Thandie Newton and Whoopi Goldberg. For Colored Girls dabbles in the avant-garde which might also be difficult for mainstream audiences to connect to.

But DAMN, do not sleep on this film.  Matter fact watch it again and tell me if it doesn’t make you want to hit the floor screaming and crying out loud over the brutalities that life throws our way.

Then tell me if Nicole Kidman or The Social Network could do that for ya.

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Gabrielle Rivera is an awesomely queer Bronx bred, writer, spoken word artist and director. Her short stories and poems have been published in various anthologies such as the Lambda Award winning Portland Queer: Tales from the Rose City and The Best of Panic! En Vivo from the East Village. Her short film "Spanish Girls are Beautiful" follows a group of young Latina and Caucasian girls who like girls as they hook up, smoke up and try to figure sh*t out. She also freelances for Autostraddle.com while working in the film and television industry. Gabrielle is currently working on her first novel while bouncing around NYC performing spoken word and trying to stick it to the man.

gabby has written 102 articles for us.


    • Agreed. Great article, Gabrielle. I’m so glad someone wrote about FCG. It was a great film that was rudely overlooked.

  1. “I think Hollywood gets mad uncomfortable when African-American cinema steps outside of the comfort zone it’s been placed in. This movie ain’t Soul Plane, but it also ain’t Precious.”

    And if the main characters aren’t emo white boys or pretty blond girls you’re not getting an Oscar nod. Disappointing to say the least.

    • I’m not sure I see how only ’emo white boys’ or ‘pretty blond(sic) girls’ getting Oscar nods is disappointing?

      If race is to be truly irrelevant in the Oscar noms. process (as in life), then don’t we have to realise that this may result in outcomes which may appear to be caused by some undercurrent of racism but are in fact simply artifacts of a fair and colour-blind process?

      That is to say, if all white/all black/all rainbow people get nominated because they deserved it, then so be it!

      There are less black people in America than there are white people so there are less black Oscar nominees. In addition, unless we hold infinity number of Oscars, the results will always remain slightly off what would be statistically expected anyway. On many an occasion, this will result in some years having no black nominees etc.

      On the other hand, there is a dirth of roles for black actors and actresses, which is bad. It is an issue.

      Also…I don’t think that any one can truly believe there is actual racial discrimination being perpetrated by those who decide the nominees.

      N.B. Forgive me if my use of the word ‘black’ is insulting in any way; I am confused by media usage – whether this is either totally accepted or totally abhorred as a way to describe African Americans. Also, I feel a bit pompous using the term ‘African American’…besides, if we can say ‘white’ we can say ‘black’ no?
      Please tell me the right words to use dudes!

      • This is kind of a crazy/strange argument. There are less Oscar nominations for people of color because there are more white people in America? Really? Is that why only one black woman has ever won an Oscar?
        If it was really only ‘some years having no black nominees’ maybe that would be an explanation. But it doesn’t explain in the 77 years of holding the Academy Awards only 4 black men and 1 woman have won for best actor/actress. There has NEVER been a nomination for a Hispanic best actor or actress, either, even though they make up nearly 16% of the population.
        I don’t know if the people deciding the nominations are making a conscious choice to be racist, but there if definitely some systemic/institutional racism going on there.

        • Whoopi Goldberg and Halle Berry both won Academy Awards.

          Still cinema does not quite reflect society’s diversity,
          no matter where you look (Europe, America…).

          Definitely a need for bold people in film business to change that situation.

        • I wasn’t clear. Time has passed, the world has changed, attitudes have changed, America has changed, Hollywood has changed etc. Over 77 years, Oscar nominations will not have been affected by race in the same way. In early years, one can imagine how certain forms of racism and racial prejudice were widespread, acceptable and obvious. Nowadays, moral outrage by the public via 24/7 TV and internet media prevents such attitudes publicly. Since nominations are, obviously, publicly available and those in charge freely open to questions by the media, the chances of institutional racism existing in this case are extremely low. It is too unlikely to be possible.

          The period of time we can consider to be most like today, say, the last 10 years or so, is the period to which I was referring. During that period (or other, depending on your view of how much change constitutes a discernible difference in attitudes on this issue) it is a view generally held privately, and DEFINITELY held publicly, that racism is wrong, bad etc.

          During this much shorter period of time, therefore, (thought I lack breadth of knowledge on nominees in the last 10 years) I would propose that the representation of different races is much more balanced.

          One also has to look at the socio-economic status of the majority of members of each ethnic minority……..

          WOAH. ESSAY. I wonder if anyone has actually read this far.

          I need to turn my brain off haha.

          • The problem is black actors are all expected to play the same type of roles, and with a movie like this, where there is a large group of women playing all sorts of types, it’s virtually ignored. Media perception of minorities isn’t balanced in any sense of the word.

          • “Nowadays, moral outrage by the public via 24/7 TV and internet media prevents such attitudes publicly. Since nominations are, obviously, publicly available and those in charge freely open to questions by the media, the chances of institutional racism existing in this case are extremely low. It is too unlikely to be possible.”

            this argument does not make any sense to me.
            how are nominations publicly available when you have to in the academy to vote?
            and how can you even begin to rationalize that “institutional racism existing in this case” is extremely low?

            i am baffled.

            i think i need to step away from this thread for a moment.

          • Regardless, your argument does not make any progressive/conscientious sense. It’s loaded full of ignorant statements. How about you read the article again for what it’s actually worth? As a black woman, I am happy to see the number of women in this discussion board who agreed with gabrielle’s article and did not pull out any b.s. However, I am also sad to see that there are still individuals, like yourself, who feel the need to get defensive and distort information for their own ego. Dijmosse summed it up best below.

          • …and that therefore, privately held racist views would be revealed upon the revealing of the nominees….

            as they have been this year, with responses including this very thread!

            I don’t doubt many people still hold racist views, but I do think they are prevented **TO A DEGREE** from airing these views for fear of public reprisals.

            Anyway, lets be honest, the Oscars have never been the arbiter of what constitutes a good movie.

          • Sorbet, just to check because the thread format always confuses my ickle brain, are you responding to me? :)

          • Of course I’m talking to you. The majority if this discussion is against you. But you already knew that. I agree with this: “Anyway, lets be honest, the Oscars have never been the arbiter of what constitutes a good movie.” BUT visibility is what matters here and saying “oh well” in this case is why I am underrepresented. Thanks!

          • I am actually upset by the reaction to my comments on this thread.

            In reference to your initial comment, Sorbet, I DID NOT get defensive. You have misidentified defensiveness. THIS is defensiveness. NOW, I “feel the need to get defensive” as you said.

            You suggested I reread the article. I suggest you reread my comment.

            I think that maybe you saw that my views were not in complete alignment with the article and with what you saw as the view that most people would/should hold and immediately jumped to the conclusion that I was saying something bad and wrong. As a result, you have, as I said, completely misidentified my statements as defensive.

            In addition, you have turned insulting by suggesting (without base) that I distorted information for my own ego.

            1. I gave VIEWS not facts, so no information was distorted.
            2. You could not be more wrong on the ego front. I have severe anxiety and depression and little to no self esteem. It takes courage for me to even exist in the world, let alone post on a website like this filled with (what I have observed to be) extremely intelligent and articulate women.

            I presented a reasoned argument which may be completely erroneous, but it it nevertheless a valid view to DISCUSS.

            I am astounded. And tearing up a little. Yes I am a sook. (Aussie slang to be googled).

            I hope that you (and others) can read my comments a little more carefully and try not to twist things yourself.

            Pace. Pace.

          • First let me throw a disclaimer out there – I am white. I’ve studied systemic racism more than the average white person, but my ass is still blinding. So I am not attempting to speak for people of color. I understand that there are quite simply some things that I, as a member of the white majority, will never understand. I am constantly learning, and am repeatedly humbled in that process.

            That being said, I agree that there has been positive change in the last 77 years. The extent/relevance of the “moral outrage by the public” can be debated (should be debated… elsewhere), but I think it’s safe to say that baby steps are happening. 10 month-old, teetering, tottering, falling on our ass, baby steps.

            What I find problematic is your assertion that “the chances of institutional racism existing in this case are extremely low.” The thing about systemic racism as it exists in the United States is that you cannot separate out one case, one event, one institution and declare it racist or not. It is so much more complex, so much more interconnected than that.

            You agree in a comment below that the issue is more about “support for black movies with diverse characters and storylines.” Where do you think this support comes from?

            It comes from future black writers, directors, and producers of vision – who are, at this moment, disproportionately dropping out of a failing public education system or shuffling through a broken legal system.

            It comes from the risky capital investment of passionate and talented believers in the promotion and visibility of projects that are honest to the minority community, and not simply cheap representations of the prevailing dominant culture stereotypes – capital wealth that is disproportionately accrued by white men (not the group most known for this type of passion… although, again, baby steps).

            It comes from a white majority audience that sheds its privilege long enough to take an interest in the stories and struggles of America’s black communities – the same white majority that thinks “taking an interest” means shuffling a few Kanye songs into an iPod workout playlist, and couldn’t tell you who Linda Brown was to save their lives.

            The embedded racism that inflames disparities in our education, legal, and economic systems is the same embedded racism that leads to black actors, actresses, etc. to be over-looked by the Academy. Please don’t believe the calculated lie that they aren’t connected!

          • Ok — I’m gonna go out on a limb here for ‘ever_saying_never’! It sounds to me like maybe you are just misreading the argument, or maybe are just unaware of some of these sort of concepts that this discourse is based around. You seem to think that Gaby is saying The Academy ignores black people because it is consciously racist against black people because they don’t want black ppl to win anything. 77 years ago people made decisions based on the color of someone’s skin — for that reason and that reason alone — and sure, it’s not like that anymore mostly. Instead, it’s WAY more complicated but still just as relevant.

            But the issue here isn’t necessarily a white guy going “don’t want them on my bus, don’t want ’em in my schools, I’m going to vote for a white person instead ’cause black people are dumb and lesser creatures who deserve to lose!” It’s not that kind of racism. it’s systematic and institutionalized racism (and sexism) that pervades every aspect of the American consciousness — women’s stories are not valued or celebrated or seen as important or compelling — especially the stories of women of color AND of queer women!

            It’s an issue in every aspect of media/art — tv shows, book publishing, film — marketers feel that women see dude-flicks, POC see white movies, but they don’t think it works the other way around, so these movies rarely even get MADE.

            Institutionalized racism is largely unconscious and similarly unchallenged and unquestioned. Hollywood doesn’t even pay attention to black people’s stories or see them as valuable or “important’ enough to be representative of American cinema as a whole.

            (Also, this has nothing to do with the demographics of the US population, if it did, then movies about women and movies about men would exist in 50-50 proportion and they don’t.)

            Look at who HAS won:

            – Sidney Poitier for Lilies in the Field — black lead actor in a story about a bunch of white women, based on a book written by a white guy

            – Halle Berry in Monster’s Ball – story about a black woman’s relationship with a white man

            – Cuba Gooding, Jr. for Jerry Maguire – i can’t even

            – Morgan Freeman for Million Dollar Baby – black man training a white woman boxer

            – Hattie McDaniel for Gone with the Wind – black maid to a bunch of rich white people

            – Whoopi Goldberg for Ghost – black ghostlady helping two white people who love each other and one of them died

            Really the biggest signs of change in the Academy have been Jennifer Hudson’s win for Dreamgirls and Mo’Nique for Precious.

            Voters/viewers often migrate towards stories/performances that seem relevant to them personally or that they can relate to. Hollywood needs to wake up and realize that — GASP! — we’re all human beings and a movie doesn’t need to reflect your skin color in order to be relateable, culturally significant and incredibly important.

            Really if the privileged classes realized that everybody’s stories are important stories, regardless of race/gender/orientation, then the whole world could change, not just the movies.

          • Appreciated. But, to paraphrase Hanna, below, I do not want to derail this thread by my white girl self needing consoling.
            So bye dudes.
            I am extremely hopeful for the continued existence of this website and have, since reading this article/thread, decided to donate a whole load of my white privileged dosh (money argh) to this wonderful bastion of wonderfulness.
            It is not the place for me anymore, but it is and will be for loads of other cool people.
            Love, all.

  2. First off, i dont see why people hav to vent it on kidman. If u wonder why shes been nommed a lot, its because shes damn good. She has bad movies but shes a great actress.

    I think its also racist to hate on this year’s nominees just because theyre white. If u think denzel, halle, monique and all the other black noms and winners deserve their statuettes, then u should do the same for people of other ethnicities. Its not the miss univerese! Its the oscars!

    Black artists will get noticed again when they deserve it. But this time, respect the achievement of the nominees. We dont rant when blacks win the grammys! Or when they sweep those other music awards. Or the national elections!

    • there are quite a few actresses and actors who totally deserve an award but just never seem to get nominated.
      and that is often the case with actors of a skin just slightly darker than white.
      so there seems to be a double standard applied as far as nominations are concerned.

      Plus IMO “Black artists will get noticed again when they deserve it. But this time, respect the achievement of the nominees.” sounds kinda rude.

    • This writer is not being racist. Calling the writer racist in response to her pointing out a trend in the oscars that comes from both racism and white privilege is to completely ignore the history of race/racism/privilege in this country as well as to distort the meaning of “racism” to fit your own point of view.

      To believe our society and particularly award ceremonies are a meritocracy of a sort, free from prejudice and privilege, is naive and unrealistic.

      Honestly, your comment is really offensive and demonstrates a complete lack of consideration for the legitimate claims of the writer, having gone the route of “why are you making a fuss about this.”

      And this is not important, but Nicole Kidman is, in my opinion, completely unwatchable. So to each his own.

    • wow you really just said we don’t weep when blacks win national elections.

      i have no words. it’s not even really worth arguing with you.

      And never once did I hate on the nominees because of their whiteness.

      I specifically said both the social network and nicole kidman were just boring. boring. not boring cuz of whiteness, just boring.

      And just because the United States has a president that is of MIXED race because he is black AND WHITE, doesn’t mean that racism has been abolished in this country.

      I don’t think it’s a coincidence or lack of good ethnic actors that keeps these categories consistently ethnically imbalanced.

      Hollywood, just like the rest of society, is structurally geared for the privileged and in this country that usually indicates rich, white and male (and heterosexual).

      Doesn’t make all rich, white males bad or evil or racist. It just means that the proverbial ball is definitely in their court.

      That underlying structure just fucks up everything else and every single one of us that is different has to fight for every right, every award and everything else that much harder.

      if you can’t agree with that then i feel like you may be deluding yourself.

      but much love and hey feel free to spout whatever you want.

      • Unfortunately, the rich get richer.
        Privilege begets privilege. Until the richness buys drugs and a downward spiral ha.

        However, a fact to remember might be that there are MILLIONS upon MILLIONS of non-privileged, non-rich white people in America and across the western world.
        The ‘rich, white guy’ cliche is, like all stereotypes, based in fact but exaggerated beyond reality. The rich are an elite group. Of all colours. White men are disproportionately represented because we are so VERY recently arrived in this modern world of 2011. The remnants of the past have yet to fade, but they will.

        I have to say also that as a white person, I have difficulty seeing privilege anywhere. It is about using what you have to your advantage, as with everything in life…

        Personally, I find life effing hard. Just really, really hard. In every way. If there is something I can use to make it easier, I will. Ref. positive discrimination/affirmative action.
        Ahhh so off topic.

        Also, I really appreciate your post and your comments and you keeping your temper so well under what I imagine must be VERY trying circumstances for you i.e. reading these comments!

        I love Autostraddle for being a place I can be found irritating and be argued against. Love it.

        • Oh buddy. As one white woman to another – your comments are making me so. fucking. nervous. I can’t shake the feeling that they have massive potential for damaging misinterpretation. I know you mean well… I hope you mean well. I’ve been there.

          But here’s the thing: We don’t get to say that the remnants of the past are fading. We don’t get to say that racism is on its way out. Why? For the same reason that if some man told me sexism was over, I would swift-kick him in the testicles and demand additional funding for Planned Parenthood.

          Also, the reason you have difficulty seeing white privilege is because *you are a member of the dominant culture.* Our society is structured so that you, a white person, never have to think twice about the color of your skin. The “invisibility” of our privilege is one of the greatest aspects of its power. Geez, I’m turning this into Race and Social Welfare 101 (take that, maybe?) or something. But, please – so. fucking. nervous.

          • Also, I think about the colour of my skin ALL the time. I live in a city where I am a visibly VERY much a minority. I feel obvious and out of place. I think about the colour of my skin all the time.

          • Duuuude. You’re such a classic case of white privellge. Instead of addressing the issue being discussed- racism against blacks at the Oscars- you make it about you, the “racism” you face being a minority in one small area. I suggest turning on TV or opening a newspaper. You’ll see people who look like you. African Americans (or Asian/Latina/Native…) can’t do this. They can’t drive to another part of town and suddenly lose their minority status as you can.

            I used to think kind of like you, I didn’t get what was racist unless it was incredibly blatant. I suggest googling “White Privellege Backpack”, that article put me on the right path.

          • Same thing I was thinking, “This is not about YOU!” The privilege, advantage, having it hard the way that the article addresses these things is categorically different from the type of privileged, etc. that ESN is referring to.

            I understand that as queer people we are a microcosm of the world at large and have individual experiences as such, but like gabriel mentioned:

            “That underlying structure just fucks up everything else and every single one of us that is different has to fight for every right, every award and everything else that much harder.if you can’t agree with that then i feel like you may be deluding yourself.”

            It’s a nice thought, but we’re not always aware of our own prejudices, that’s what makes them institutionalized, ingrained, unnoticed unless overt and quite frankly – normal.

      • No. Im sorry, but i really didnt mean to offend. Im not even white.
        What im trying to say is, if we keep on segregating people based on color, these wounds will never fade. Sure the academy was a white-people crowd for the majority of its existence, but we cnt force it to do a complete turnaround in a blink of an eye.

        As you can see, black people hav begun to win. Im sure there will be more and deservingly so. But in cases where black people dnt make it, i dont think its necessary to thrash on the whites. What you gotta do is supoort movies for peole of color more. Make more movies abt it. Be involved without picking ob past wounds.

        Thats all. I dont know how tjis kind of thinkibg suddenly makes me a source of balck hate.

      • See? This is what being oversensitive about race does. Esperanza isnt being attacked for being a poc, shes being attacked coz some bieber fans r crazy n obsessed tweens! Any person, of any ethnicity will get the same treatment from this tween armada. Im not saying its ok, but it stems from a completely different reason. Not everything is about race.

  3. really, my beloved autostraddle commenters? Are we really going to take the “you’re racist because you don’t want pretty white ladies to get ossssscars if there were good non-white actors they’d totally be nominated” route only three comments in and pretend that race has no influence in hollywood either?

    we can be better than this.

    • YES. Holy hens does this weird me out. Even in spaces you might think would be progressive, time after time, if someone non-white has the nerve to say, “Hey look, hardly any non-white folks represented in this particular thing, kind weird, right?”, you can just count the seconds until some white girl jumps in to say “WHY DO YOU HATE WHITE PEOPLE YOU ARE BEING RACIST I FEEL HURT THAT THIS WAS NOT ALL ABOUT ME!” (Not in so many words, usually. But what is this panic? Where does it come from? I’m white too, but I really don’t get it.)

      • thank you for saying this.
        and you know the weirdest thing is that i feel like i should be 100% used to it.

        but dude it still fucking burns…especially in a space like this.

    • “There’s only one Tyler Perry, and apparently that’s all Hollywood has room for.”
      This this 1 million times this.

    • Ha, when I wrote that, I didn’t even realize the movie was produced/written/directed by Tyler Perry. Of course.

      Um, I just….. I am confused by what is going on here. I keep trying to articulate something but I am too confused. For real people, racism, especially systemic racism, for real exists. As a few people have stated, its this near-invisible form that is most dangerous, because it is so easy for some people to wave off.

      Also, I read the play and watched this movie this afternoon. My heart is hearting, but it was beautiful. The play is really worth a read, people.

  4. White privilege is prevalent, enmeshed and destructive on a daily basis- institutionally, economically and within our homes and conversations. The fact that it is ignored or rationalized with ignorance is part of the privilege itself.

    Gabriele speaks the truth beautifully and without racism- she is calling attention. Speak.

    And as a white woman, mother of a Black son, survivor of domestic abuse and so on, FCG was for me a powerful film that gave me voice EVEN as a non Black woman. THAT is the power of film making. And the actors deserved recognition.

  5. Ok, this officially makes me feel like a jerk for not having made time to watch “For Colored Girls.”

    Thanks AS, for making me a better person!

  6. Tyler Perry had success before entering this realm of the industry. He isn’t even a black Hollywood success story. He attained success through the black community and was accepted into Hollywood because his movies are seen as economically viable. Perry’s movies do a lot for Tyler Perry. They don’t do a lot for black people in the industry.

    For the most part, best actor/actress nominees were in movies up for some other category (usually best picture). So when those movies lack P.O.C. leads, there’s really no chance. Look at the stories the movies up for best film are about! They inherently exclude P.O.C. lead roles. Black Swan – ballet, The Fighter – story about a white boxer/family, The kids are all right – white family, The king’s speech – doesn’t get much whiter than this, 127 hours – bout a white dude, Social Network – about a bunch of white dudes, True Grit – a western.

    It all goes back to the stories being told and the people telling them. Racism is a constant undercurrent in Hollywood because the entertainment industry is another form of institutionalized racism. On the biggest stage (Oscars) is when a lot of people take notice but trying to nip it in the bud there is gonna get nowhere. That wouldn’t cut the head off the snake. It’d be like putting make-up on it. And the snake is an anaconda so it just might eat you and your lipstick. Do snakes have lips?

  7. I would just like to say that I really appreciate this article being posted on Autostraddle. I think a lot of women of color(myself included) feel really unrepresented in mainstream media and left out of queer and feminist circles. I am very disappointed by some of the responses to this article upthread, but I do hope AS continues to post articles like this and continues to actively recruit articles and perspectives from WOC.

    Also: Thandie Newton!!!! So. Good.

  8. As y’all know, I hate everything, especially movies. I think everything sucks, but I read a lot of movie reviews so that i can pretend to know what sucks and what doesn’t. And I’d been looking forward to For Colored Girls because I loved the play and the movie’s cast was kickass, but the reviews were lukewarm so I skipped it. (However, EVERY SINGLE REVIEW EVER did say that the acting was phenomenal, despite Perry’s lacking directing/writing skills.) So I watched this yesterday after reading this post and I REALLY REALLY REALLY LOVED IT! Seriously! I surprised even myeslf. And agree 100% with Gaby’s points.

    [I also loved The Social Network but that was entirely for personal reasons, having been involved (in clearly a MUCH smaller scale) in similar negotiations/hand-wringing over website start-ups. I also dislike Nicole Kidman in everything, she never does anything inventive except for in The Hours.]

    I don’t know how anyone who reads this website regularly or exists in the world as a queer woman could question the institutionalized discrimination that consistently rewards white heterosexual men over women of color (you may have noticed in your everyday lives that white heterosexual men are valued over queer women and espesh queer WOC?). Even the fact that Perry wrestled the reins of this film away from black female director Nzingha Stewart’s hands (Lionsgate urged Stewart to ask Perry to produce the film, he said he would but only if he could also write/direct it, Stewart — who bought the feature film rights to the piece — ended up getting shut out of the process) is indicative of the shitty state of affairs regarding facts like (as aforementioned) “there’s only one Tyler Perry, and apparently that’s all Hollywood has room for.”

    The system doesn’t arbitrarily reward white performances over black performances. The system is SYSTEMATICALLY UNINTERESTED IN WOMEN’S STORIES. And BLACK women’s stories? Ha! Forget it. I don’t know how anyone can deny this, I am really confused by some of y’all today.

    Though I loved TSN and it was well done, doesn’t anyone else find it interesting that a relatively “quiet” film (nothing that inventive or groundbreaking or progressive happened in the movie) got so much attention? Because it’s a story about rich white guys fighting over money, power, and women! Speaking of TSN, as I said earlier, I related to the film b/c of my own experience as a young person doing an internet start-up/hoping to change the world. So I really liked it. What we need are more women and people of color in the academy voting for the stories THEY relate to.

  9. one white girl’s perspective: institutional racism exists. in hollywood, on wall street, in podunk, in your head while you sleep. it’s there. it is in the fabric of our culture and we’re still in the process of washing it out, hopefully. when you’re white and don’t consistently deal with its clearest consequences, i guess it’s harder to see, since so many of my white peers maintain it’s a phantom, a made-up nightmare, an excuse. that’s privilege for ya.

    there is a difference between jim crow and a lack of representation of people of color in the media. there is a difference between segregated lunch counters and only one black woman having ever won an oscar.

    but they are all symptoms of the same illness. and while our national health on racial issues has been improving (slowly) for the last century, by no means should we get complacent with these disparities. they are alarm bells, alerting us to the deep injustices still existent in the roots of our society.

    a parallel, perhaps: sure, women are allowed to hold jobs these days. but how many are CEOs? even better, how many women (and men) (and transpeople, hoo boy) of color are CEOs?

    unless somewhere, deep inside, you believe that people of color have less talent/drive/whatev (note: FALSE), you ultimately have to accept that the system is way outta whack. and that includes the oscars.

    thank you, gabrielle, for this article, and autostraddle for posting it.

  10. ever_saying_never, I can’t seem to reply to your actual last comment, but I think I should say this for your benefit: Please back away from this article now. Staying here is only going to result in you and other people getting more upset, and in the conversation this article seems to have intended to start being derailed to console an upset white girl.

    • What I have to say is PART of the conversation this article was intended to start.

      Consoling me (the ‘upset WHITE girl’ as you so POINTEDLY mentioned) is not a derailment of the aforementioned conversation, it is a RESULT of it.

      You all seem to have forgotten how to be nice.

      This is sad. Sadder than anything this article is talking about. Niceness is the basis for everything good in the world. If you can’t just basically be nice to a fellow human being, how can you condemn anyone else for any other wrongdoing?

      A final question might be why you felt the need to mention my RACE when pointing out that the consoling of me seemed to be derailing the intended discussion…?

      Would replacing the word ‘white’ with another race have meant I was worth derailing the thread to console?

      I think you may not have realised how your wording came across in that part.

      Lastly, I thank you for, essentially, peacekeeping. Much needed. No sarcasm intended. I do need to back away.

      • “Would replacing the word ‘white’ with another race have meant I was worth derailing the thread to console?”

        Uh, no? Because a white person complaining about racist statements against white people is in no way the same as a POC complaining about racist statements against POC. The most important thing I ever picked up from Talking About Serious Stuff Online was one simple sentence: “You can’t oppress an oppressor.” When someone is saying “Hey, POCs and women are severely underrepresented at the Oscars!” and a white person goes, “Oh my god, that’s RACIST against WHITE PEOPLE,” it’s exactly the same as a man complaining about sexism when people call for more women in government, or when straight people ask why there’s no straight pride parade.

        Also, no, a lack of “niceness” is not sadder than racism. I totally understand the need to back away, but if you do happen to come back and see this comment, you might want to check out this blog post to see why that statement in itself is hurtful:

      • Aw, shit. See, this is why I was nervous… I hate it when barriers come up and conversations break down. Feels so goddam counterproductive.

        Also, I know you already made your exit, but are you actually Australian? Because that might explain some/most of the misunderstanding. American race relations have a long, intense history that can be hard to fully grasp from an outside perspective.

        • yeah i agree with you Dijmosse — and yeah she is Australian. I think it’s REALLY different over there, like dramatically different.

        • Oh, damn. In my comment I was going by the assumption that she’s American (I somehow got the impression that a lot of Autostraddle readers are) and my comment about derailing to comfort a white person probably only makes sense in the conversations about American race relations I’m used to.

      • I didn’t intend to be mean to you, just blunt (actually to try to avoid accidentally seeming mean lol), and I’m sorry that my comment was rude to you.

      • Be quiet and check your privilege. You are white.

        There is no need to be “nice” when there is a white girl sitting here diminishing/putting down/devaluing statements about racism. That is racist. You don’t get to determine when racism is over or if something is not racist.

        “bawww you guys are being mean!”
        No. You know what’s mean? You sitting here making the conversation ALL ABOUT YOU and taking the spotlight away from WOC.

        -a fellow white girl

  11. how the did this comment thread happen what is wrong with people have i been taking too many classes on racism and blaxploitation and pan african freedom fighters that i forgot that there are people who still completely miss the point ohmygod

    also: i’ve yet to see the movie, but the For Colored Girls play is amazing.

  12. I haven’t seen this and probably won’t (I can’t usually handle rape scenes in movies) but I’m definitely going to check out the play. Also, Anika Noni Rose! She’s amazing and deserves all of the Oscars ever.

  13. I absolutely fucking love this movie. I was crying the entire 2 hours in the theater because I could totally feel the pain. I think the best response for the Oscars nominations and shit is just who-the-fuck-cares. I mean, really. A bunch of our peers sit around a desk in a gilded hollyweird office and decide which movie gets what award. All I care about is the raw emotion contained in 2 hours, and FCG definitely went above and beyond my expectations. I love it!

  14. Okay. I completely agree with you about Rabbit Hole and Social Network. BORING. I did not finish the latter.

    The problem with Four Colored girls was not the acting, but the writing. I agree with you it was terrible, so contrived. I almost couldn’t finish.

    Janet Jackson is a horrible actress. Just because she is Micheal’s sister doesn;t mean shit.

    Also I hate how the gay story was told. I know HIV/AIDS is rampant and a big problem BUT NOT EVERY GAY MAN has it. Could we not just do the story as a normal cheating story without having the gay be infected and infecting his wife? Further perpetuating the idea that it’s a gay man’s disease. Or some people who think its a punishment to them for being gay.

    My biggest problem is that the film felt way too familiar. If it had been any other writer/director but Tyler Perry it would have been better received. BUT we have seen this over and over again from him. Down and out, abused, betrayed and/or struggling black woman that have to find their inner strength. It’s been done so many times by him and it’s tedious. You could play a drinking game for every whore, drug addict, ghetto, raped, abused negligent mothers, etc. there will be in Tyler’s movie.

    It’s upsetting that black women have to be portrayed like that. Everyone does not have those problems. And any movie that portrays otherwise rarely crosses over. I blame the lack of diversity from the casting couch. Stories that are not even race specific or necessary still go to white actors/actresses. For instance, the Rabiit Hole, it would still have been boring, but that could have been any family.. any race, but no it was white. It also didn;t need to have a big name

    I love movies and friends/family say I am such a critic. It saddens me to say that I own/watch more movies with a white cast versus a black cast because of the quality that is allotted.

    Hell, take any show and pay attention to the extras, not the main cast but just the freaking extras.. How’s the diversity?

    Micheal Ealy,’He finds the line between overdoing it and creating a believably distraught individual.”
    I said the exact same thing. THE SAME THING. He does and it is very interesting to see. I highly recommend ‘There Eyes Were Watching God.’

    Honestly, the award quality movies have not been up to par since 2008. There have been very slim pickings when it comes to nomination time. That’s why some movies and people, that have been greatly overestimated snuck off with some awards

    • yes, you’re totally right on. and oh my goodness, i can’t believe i forgot about the whole down low straight from a noah’s arc script i gave my girl HIV cuz i was doin the deed set up!

      cringe cringe cringe!

      for gay men of color, this “on the down low” stigma is almost completely unbreakable in cinema and literature.
      as if all MOC are afraid of their homosexuality and need a woman to shield them from giving in to who they really are.

      also, their eyes were watching god, yes!!! that book is my all time favorite!
      love zora neale hurston so much! and halle berry is wonderful in it.

      and just on a mini separate note, i appreciate the use of Women of Color.

      I’m Latina (Puerto Rican) um and just in case you’re wondering, yes I am a legal citizen of the United States. ahhhaa
      (not that it matters but just to clear things up)

      this is not just about black women vs white women or whatever.

      there is a lack of diversity ALL across the board.

      for no good reason at all.

      that’s why we’re here on Autostraddle in the first place, u kno?

      • I couldn’t agree more about the downlow thing. Don’t people know that movies have the opportunity to EXPOSE people to “new and exciting” concepts?? Really, I know gay black men that SAY that they’re gay, don’t have a beard, and live in happy monogamous relationships with other men. Just think of the impact it would have on ANY gay kid (or adult) afraid to take that leap. Visibility’s such a problem.

  15. I just want to say that She even has her own “Loretta Devine” way of acting — it’s kinda like “BET meets Lifetime. made me LOL.

  16. I just remembered. Before all the skinny-threaded drama, I was here to say I liked this article – appreciated the perspective. Bang up job and all that.

    • Also- black folk only win Oscars for playing either demeaning or negative roles (ie- Halle Berry @ Monster’s Ball, Denzel Washington @ Training Day & Forrest Whitaker @ The Last King of Scotland)

      • Forrest Whitaker was brilliant in that movie though. Denzel Washington and Halle Berry was just playing yet another shade of Denzel and Halle. They play the same charcater over and over again.

        • I would never say that forrest whitaker performance as Idi Amin was negitive or demeaning. That movie is the best portrail of post colonial africa i have seen.

          But in training day Danzel was just trying to be jack nicholson, and there is just the one.

  17. I wish I could see a movie that was acted by a diverse cast without the diversity being the point. Rarely do you see mainstream movies fronted by people of color without the film pointing out “Hey look I’m black, or Hispanic, or …!”
    This goes for queer characters too. I wish for a film with queer characters who are treated like any other character, but who’s queerness is not necessarily the point of the film. That’s why I liked The Kids Are All Right so much- it’s just a story about a family. The queerness was almost a non-issue.

    I wish we could all get along like we used to in middle school… I wish I could bake a cake filled with rainbows and smiles and everyone would eat and be happy.

    • I thought A Single Man kind of fit this description. One of the best movies I’ve seen in many years.

    • It would have been cute to have a diverse cast, but alas, the play was written to speak specifically for black women’s experiences in the play. Although I must say, one woman in the play is actually Black and Puerto Rican, but is taken and accepted as a black woman.

      it’s really important to read the play before seeing the movie. As it is a choreopoem, a lot of the context gets created by Perry and not by Ntozake.

  18. Maybe it’s because “For Colored Girls” sucks so much! I had never in my life walked out of a movie until I tried to see this. It was awful. The writing made me want to puke. It was so over-done! And, if it *wanted* to be too much, it didn’t go there enough: the movie was actually confused. And then the whole rape/opera later throwingthekidsoutthewindow/janetjackson’sface montage was ridiculous. Walked out. It was TERRIBLE.
    I have no faith in the Academy anyway (2006:Crash vs. Brokeback), but still, this movie should never get nominated for anything.

  19. Preach, Gabrielle!

    Also, I think white privilege–or privilege of pretty much any kind–is sorta like an invisible blanket: It swaddles and protects those who benefit from it, but they usually don’t realize it’s even there. Meanwhile, those outside the blanket know it’s there, because they’re left out in the cold. When they try to explain this, the folks in the blanket deny its existence and say what’s the matter, they should just warm themselves up.

  20. I am going to try and read the play maybe over the summer because I dislike Tyler Perry and I cannot watch most Hollywood made African American movies.
    Anyway, I am really impressed with AS and how this conversation went down. It matters where in the world you are from- I am originally from a majority black country (but still managed to find myself in a class with only 3 other black kids- the rest (24) all white) and when I moved to Canada I couldn’t understand why some African Canadians where not jumping for the chance to go to school, college, get degrees etc. I didn’t understand why so many teenage girls have 2 kids by the age of 18 or whatever.It is difficult to sometimes understand why things are the way they are if you do not go out there in search of the truth. Circumstances are different but no matter where you are in the world the “race” which perpetrated and promoted racism is the same. No matter where you go in the western world most POC have it harder than most white people.

    You can’t change someone unless they are willing to change. If for some reason you find a lot of people disagreeing with you- do some research. Even if it is to strengthen your case, just read a book or google or talk to an actual POC or something. It’s frustrating how unwilling so many people are to learn things for themselves.

    • The play is really good; a fairly quick read.

      I think it adds a LOT to the movie to read the play right before, as there are a lot of lines that might sounds weird, but are right from the poems that make up the play.

  21. I completely agree. I absolutely loved the movie and thought the acting was phenominal. Now Im wondering how come it didn’t get more media. This film is spellbounding and really takes a turn in the way that “colored” girls should look at themselves and the people around them. I first heard about this film from a male coworker of mine. He told me he cried and that I should go see it. Unfrortuantely I didn’t get to see it in the theaters but I heard a great many men did. This just goes show how pivotal this movie actually is. Now that I’ve seen it, I couldn’t be more distraught and empowered at the same time. Beautiful..

  22. I haven’t seen this yet and was kind of on the fence about it because I have a hard time with Tyler Perry’s movies. I mean, generally they’re all very, very good. But I feel like I’m watching them for six hours and have to invest my whole life into them. Which is good! It’s just exhausting, you know, so it takes me a while to get around to watching them.

    However, this has definitely inspired me to watch it pronto. Because yes, it does have the most stunning cast. Additionally; I really adore the full title. It’s so beautiful, you know.

    (I’m with you re: The Social Network. It was a good story, yes, but I thought that shit was so boring.)

  23. reading through all these comments, and seeing the responses to ever_saying_never made me feel really sad and uncomfortable for her; she was just saying her interpretation, her feeling, her point of view, and those things are hers and hers alone, and because most of you disagreed with her – re your interpretations etc – you ganged up on her and applauded each other for your, what could be construed as, catty remarks, which has meant she no longer wants to be a part of a community which has an appeal for people who feel like there have no where else to go, because they don’t feel like they’d be accepted anywhere else

    people have different points of views, and even if you perceive them to be wrong, i don’t think there has to be what felt like a public shaming of “omg can you WHAT EVEN are you you must be mad selfish egotistical i am right we are RIGHT morally sound you are white and WRONG” completely deviating from the topic at hand, ignoring her words/your own words – “tone argument” – and the whole thing felt very awkward

    this is my interpretion, my feeling, my point of view, and those things are mine and mine alone

    • I do agree with you in some ways, but if someone is being a tad (or very) racist, it can sometimes be because they haven’t heard this point of view enough, or from the right direction. Even if it’s awkward or uncomfortable, it’s important not to let people continue making racist remarks without challenge. Yes, she was quite defensive and a bit unresponsive while commenting, but perhaps she’ll give things more thought and see another point of view.

      Some people did get a little mean, a little defensive. But they felt attacked, and I think that’s valid. I feel attacked when people make anti-gay remarks, and I (try to) do something about it, or at least not let it go unchallenged, let the opposing point of view be voiced.

      • i agree with you in some ways as well and I’m sad how this turned out.

        but i think in general if you come onto a post and make a comment that directly disagrees with and, in this case doesn’t JUST disagree but also tells the author (a queer woman of color) that the racism she perceives is not even real… girl, when you say the chances of institutional racism existing in this case are extremely low. it is too unlikely to be possible, you gotta be ready to duke it out! Everyone’s got a right to their own feelings/perceptions, but if you’re disagreeing with a post’s primary point, you’re starting a discussion/conversation/argument. Like Hannah says, I flip and say irrational things when someone says homophobia is in my head.

        I feel like the problem here — and I think the problem on a LOT of threads that go like this — like — when y’all comment, what do you think is going to happen? It seems like you think everyone is going to either applaud you or ignore you. And if anything besides that happens — like disagreement, arguments, defensiveness — you flip out! Ladies if you’re gonna dish it out, you gotta take it! It was an imperfect argument and maybe unnecessary things were said but I think that might be par for the course.

        I’m disappointed that she doesn’t want to be a part of this community anymore and I hope she changes her mind and comes back. It sounds like she has a unique perspective to share.

        Also I just want everyone to love each other and I get upset when people leave, just like my first wife

        • everything riese said for realz.

          i don’t want anyone to feel bad.

          those were not my intentions with this article.

          i just wanted to express my surprise that such incredibly talented actresses were overlooked in a major awards ceremony.

          race plays a roll in that equation. in my life. in all of our lives.

          i am glad that people got heated up. i feel like there are so many people that say nothing, are affected by nothing and FEEL nothing.

          i like my women loud, intelligent and unafraid…even in online forums.

          i feel that when it comes to certain issues people get a kick out of being more “aware” or “accepting” than others are and that sucks too.

          we’re here to help each other and learn from each other.
          i feel like i learn something from autostraddle in some way every time im on the site.

          i am not morally superior to anyone. i am just a chick navigating this world with my own biases, opinions and terrible one liners.

          anyway, no one needs to feel ashamed or victorious or embarrassed or anything.

          i jumped up and spouted and ranted and let loose and it felt good.

          so now let’s regroup ladies and make some tea and smoke some weed.

          • i am ready for the tea and for the weed!

            also i agree i think these conversations are the point and are good and we all flex our brains, even the part where we have conversations about the conversations. i feel smarter now than i was on friday.

            ok t-time

    • It is a shame that feelings got hurt and that maybe not everyone could feel good about the discussion.

      However, honestly, I would rather that a single commenter like ever_saying_never feel somewhat uncomfortable, than say nothing and make the rest of the autostraddle community, especially our POC members, feel uncomfortable and like this space is not for them. I don’t want us to accidentally default to a white queer community while saying we’re just a queer community.

      Obviously autostraddlers of all races still have different opinions on this issue. However, I have been to way too many feminist/lesbian/progressive websites that have alienated their POC members because they did not bother holding themselves and their commenters to a higher anti-racism standard. Without being too dramatic, this is about more than just ever_saying_never, this is about the kind of community we want to be.

      • also thank you Riese/Gabrielle for doing the hard work of watching over this thread, I wouldn’t want the job, I have to say.

        • it’s actually rachel and sarah’s job

          gaby and i are here for the love of the game!

          mostly i started thinking today that i don’t really know anything about anything and shouldn’t always be in the fray acting like i know a thing. but then i watched two documentaries and feel a little bit better.

          also i agree with everything you said

      • “However, honestly, I would rather that a single commenter like ever_saying_never feel somewhat uncomfortable, than say nothing and make the rest of the autostraddle community, especially our POC members, feel uncomfortable and like this space is not for them.”


      • THIS 10million times over.

        I can’t explain to you all how many times that I have walked into a queer space that would have normally felt even more comfortable that we all like licking vaginas, except that my vagina was the only one of color. Like, just because we’re all queer here, doesn’t mean you get to come up and “pet” my hair, or compare your skin to mine after a vacation, or say some shit like institutionalized racism in Hollywood is a very low occurrence, and not expect to get called out on it because you’re oppressed as a queer person. No, it’s not cute. Queer oppression does not equal a dismantling of white supremacist logic and classism. While queer spaces should strive to be counter-hegemonic, they become quite uncomfortable for queer POC. Hence, some of my earlier issues with queer websites. I always feel like a special topic and never an integral part of the actual community.

        “Damned if I do, damned if I don’t” responses smack of the ability to just turn off thinking and not care either way, right? When do POC get a day off from feeling uncomfortable?

        About the movie:
        Not a Tyler Perry fan, writing wasn’t the best. But the greater issue of not having any women of color be nominated is really important. It’s like that magazine that released the article “Top Rising Hollywood starlets” or some shit like that, and they were all lily-white. The ability to say that “maybe black, latina, and asian actresses just aren’t good enough” smacks of a deep investment in whiteness. As if the good enough is set by only white actresses can/have done in Hollywood.

        I also wouldn’t say that counter-resentment is an accurate way to describe what happens when a POC alerts you that the shit you’re saying is not okay. Offensive is not always the key word here. Untrue, biased and inappropriate is usually what is meant in a lot of cases. Being politically correct is only covering up the reasons why you would have said something that ridiculous in the first place.

        And for some ways to really see the issue and contextualize it on an individual level and not so systemic level, please see performance artist damali ayo’s I CAN FIX IT: RACISM, VOL. 1.


        specifically for the white folk:

        1. Admit it: (that you’re white, that racism exists, taking notice of your surroundings aka stop letting white be the default setting in every single area of your life).

        2.Listen: (shut up and listen. don’t derail. don’t minimize a POC’s experience. who are you to dictate how racism is experienced? stop being defensive, stop mixing up discussion on race with feelings of anger, stop expecting coddling and gentleness when the discussion is being held, and stop making it all about you.)

        3.Educate yourself: First of all, fight the urge to tell people of color what a great job you’ve done by researching racism. Do you want a cookie now? Challenge your thinking, research past what you have been taught about race relations in this country and allow yourself to be taught.

        For example: How many of you have seen The Birth of a Nation or The Jazz Singer? How many of you understand why derailing a person of color’s experience with racism by claiming that you’re “ethnic/jewish/irish” is unproductive and incomparable when discussing issues of white privilege in this country? Read up on it. But don’t expect a pat on the back either. You should be doing it for yourself.

        4. Broaden your experience (which is not to be done before 1-3).
        Acknowledge that reverse racism cannot and does not exist. Do not use your experience as being the only white person as a way to start a discussion about how it feels to be black, latin@, asian or native american in this country. Make a commitment to challenge yourselves in your friendships, in your daily interactions with people of color. But do not make friends to say, “I’ve slept with x, I’m friends with x, so I cannot be y.” Yes you can.

        5. Take Action: (do not think that the only people who can, should, and will always talk about race and racism are people of color. Challenge each other [as white people] to talk about things more deeply *as was seen on this thread* and be visible in that fight for racism. You are not fighting against racism FOR POC; remember, this shit affects you too.

        And I’m OUT.

  24. Hi everybody(Dr.Nick voice)

    Q. Why aren’t minorities better represented in media?
    A. White people have all the money. People with the money create the content and just like God they do so in there own image i.e. with people that look like them.

    About the Oscar Nominations. Who cares?
    the Oscars suck. The only thing the Oscars are a measuring stick of is being long winded.

    with the exception of anything Clint Eastwood makes
    Cause he’s awsooome!

    • That is why I love the Berlin Film Festival/Berlinale.
      They have a whole set of awards, the Teddy Awards, for gay/lesbian/trans* movies from all over the world. so basically all colours of the rainbow and the teint are covered. :) Yesterday marked the 25th anniversary of the teddies. They started off as a small initiative of LGBT folks showing gay movies at a gay book store late at night at the same time the Berlin Film Festival was in town, but they eventually made it and became an official part of the festival with official awards.
      I guess that makes another reason to love Berlin/Germany ;)

  25. I read nearly all of the comments before posting.
    For some of you, it makes me worried when you say “racism is over it’s all about merit now”..the racism has been so finely institutionalized, and you’re expecting an overt handout of Jim Crow. IT’s the same worry I get when I hear people (especially women) say “post-feminist” or there’s no more need for feminism. Just because men aren;t yelling for you to go back in the kitchen doesn’t mean most men don’t still feel that way, or still feel like women are inherently inferior.

    Funny coincidence is I just watched For Colored Girls yesterday so it’s still fresh in my mind. The acting was great and it is what truly made the movie. All of the women had real stories, even Thandie Newton’s little sister. Recalling reviews I heard form others, most (and most men) were upset because they felt like the movie played them in a terrible light. It’s a dramatic movie so it called for drama and a little exaggeration, so I feel like that should be expected. Also, that doesn’t make what was happening any less truthful.
    I say this to say that so far, when a movie is almost exclusively a story about women, and women of color, it is still very much ignored, claimed to be too “niche” or even irrelevant. This was a damn good movie and it deserves recognition.

    PS. I agree with your statement about rape scenes. They attempt to make them artistic but rape is rape. One rape scene that was more realistic was the one in Ike and Tina… it was painful to watch because it was so true, full of betrayal and hurt. There were no scenes cut into, nothing to interrupt the viewer from what was really going on.

  26. I’m I bad because I don’t actually have any desire at all to watch this movie? Even after the article, and the comments, and what I perceive as very valid arguments in favor of a need for greater diversity?

    I’m lame; I mostly just like action, explosions, and titties. Most of the movies I like never get nominated for shit, either.

    I’m actually more interested in where the responses went.

    I want to be very, very careful in choosing my words, and I fear I’ll most likely still catch shit – and hell, maybe rightfully so. But this subject pains me, precisely because I have a genuine desire to do right by others.

    For the record, I agree with the assertment in the original article – that Hollywood represents a sort of default level of systematic racism that tends to go unnoticed because we’re comfortable with it. It’s like a nagging buzzing noise in the background that you hear so much, you stop noticing it most of the time.

    Here’s where I’m gonna tread into scary territory.
    I believe white people become defensive in regards to the race issue because many of us feel like we’re damned if we do, damned if we don’t. Speaking only for myself, my prejudice in regards to an unknown african american is not that I’ll be threatened with violence, loss of property, or that this person is lazier or less intelligent than I am. My fear is that without ever even meaning to, I will inadvertantly do or say something that will offend this person, who will then rip me a new asshole over the mistake I never knew I was making in the first place.

    That’s obviously something of a small fear when compared to what a black person in the United States typically has to deal with, so I’m in no way trying to trivialize or make this about me.
    But what I am saying is that somehow, this barrier of resentment and counter-resentment is going to have to be dealt with, and it can’t entirely be done on one side and one side alone.

    There are definitely people of caucasian descent who are first-tier racists, and more of them than there should be even now. These are people who are consciously consuming and espousing hate, degradation, fear, distrust, and oppression. I think, though, that there are just as many who really don’t intentionally want to oppress anybody – but they don’t grasp what more than can do about shit. They feel like they’re resented and being dogged by a community that will never be satisfied, no matter how hard they try.
    I’m not saying that’s a fair view to hold at all, but most of us aren’t walking around thinking every moment of every day how we’re going to try and keep someobody else down. We’re just living our own lives, which are complicated and filled with struggled and problems and even tragedies like everyone else. Being consistently reminded about how we’re just still not living up to the expectations makes a lot of people just want to throw in the towel and say,”Fuck it, why do I even bother?”

    And I don’t know what to do about that. I just want to do right.

    • melerwin,

      You’re not bad for not wanting to see the movie, or how you feel in general. I went to a University that was around 80 something percent white (I’m black), so I understand the fear that you can’t relate to someone because of your skin. But it’s sort of like when you were a kid and you freaked out because you saw a spider and your mother told you that the spider was more afraid of you than you were of it (still skeptical about that).

      I don’t think my peers were more afraid of me, but I think we all feared we would say or do something wrong or offensive (which often times led to someone saying or doing something wrong or offensive). But whether or not you let that fear make you complacent or distant is up to you, and I had to figure that out too.

      A lot of the “dogging” you refer to doesn’t come from nowhere, and I don’t think that’s what you were saying, but I just have to point that out. My dad was born in 1950, my mom in 1959. I have a great-grandmother who is 95, I can only imagine what her life was like as a young black woman. My dad fought in Vietnam, and when he came home he was still a second class citizen. There’s deep seated pain that has led to deep seated anger, and we all have things to work on.

      Don’t worry about saying the wrong thing. And don’t apologize for how you feel – or liking movies with tits. Just remember that we’re all trying to figure this shit out, and the history of race relations doesn’t make it any easier :)

  27. I want to thank everyone for being on board for this thorough and well thought out conversation. I feel I have expanded and reflected from reading it (even without participating.) Thanks everyone and I’m so thrilled to have a place like autostraddle that won’t shy away from hosting this discussion.

    When I first saw this post I was reticent to comment, because I absolutely abhorred this film, more than anything I’ve seen in a long time (and I go to/watch 2-5 movies a week.) But ultimately I think I agree with Gabrielle- these were some solid, commanding performances. And I can identify that what I hated about the film was Tyler Perry’s adaptation and how I felt like so many of these powerhouse actresses were forcing themselves to act above and beyond the script, which is an incredibly disappointing adaptation of a real powerhouse of a play/choreopoem/whatever. I though the source material was unparalleled and watching this film, which I barely made it through, what struck me again and again was how trying it must have been for this exceptional performers to come into work every day and force their way through what I saw as a very mediocre at best script.

    I hated this movie so. fucking. much. But everything you all have said about it is totally valid and relevant. Also- watch the independent spirit awards the night before the oscars on IFC if you want a slightly (and I’ll emphasize the slightness of it) less political slew of nominees from films that are closer to the best that the year had to offer.

  28. i did not enjoy watching the play “for colored girls” at my university but i think that was because it was poorly acted and i was forced to watch it for my world theatre class. this article made me want to read it sometime because it sounds like it is actually probably good.

    also i didn’t watch the movie but mrs. huxtable should def get an oscar. JUST SAYING

  29. I liked this article a lot. Mainly how it addressed the underrepresentation and recognition of diverse actors and movies in Hollywood, BUT…. For Colored Girls does not deserve an Oscar in my opinion. It’s definitely one of Perry’s best movies but that’s not saying much. I support Tyler Perry for being one of the few filmmakers with diverse projects but for lack of a better word …. he sucks. I just wish others were able to stand up and make more films and television series. I’m hoping Perry’s success is opening the doors for this to happen

    -Also didn’t the movie get a little homophobic towards the end? I know it wasn’t just me who felt that.

    • Seconded on the homophobia business. Although (and I hate to perpetuate rumors so please please call me out on this one) the whisperings about Tyler Perry’s own sexuality, this read to me as incredibly self reflexive, self loathing plot point. Like my girl RuPaul says- “If you can’t love yourself, how the hell are you going to love anybody else?”

  30. Hi Guys!!

    This may have been previously mentioned, but the only movies that go on to win at the Oscars are big blockbusters who put tons of time and money into Oscar Campaigns for each actor/actress/category. You can’t even be nominated unfortunately without one which is why so many amazing movies get overlooked and pieces of multi-million dollar shit like Avatar win so so many awards. This movie should have had more buzz surrounding it, but as far as Oscars, maybe Lionsgate is to blame for not pushing these campaigns forward. It would be super interesting to find out WHY they didn’t. Don’t be fooled into thinking the Oscars is about awarding art… its not.


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