Listeners Rave, Rant About 'For Colored Girls'

Tell Me More host Michel Martin and producer Lee Hill, the program's "digital media guy," offer important news updates to recent conversations heard on the program. This week, listeners react with praise and criticism of director Tyler Perry's film For Colored Girls. Also, rapper Kanye West is walking back his comments made in 2005 about former president George W. Bush not caring about black people in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

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MICHEL MARTIN, host:

And now it's time for Backtalk, where we lift the curtain on what's happening in the TELL ME MORE blogosphere and get to hear from you, our listeners. Lee Hill, our digital media guy, is here with me as he is most Fridays. Hi, Lee.

LEE HILL: Hey, Michel. Well, the blogosphere continues to buzz about the new film directed by Tyler Perry called "For Colored Girls." It opened in theaters last Friday and since - before the curtain even lifted, it stirred a loud chorus of criticism. Some say it's the story of wounded black women that deserves to be told. Others say that story is being told at the expense of demonizing black men.

And you'll remember last week we talked to actress Kimberly Elise who stars in the film as a devoted and abused girlfriend.

Here's a clip from "For Colored Girls" with Elise, who stars as Crystal. And co-star Michael Ealy, who plays her boyfriend, Beau Willie.

(Soundbite of film, "For Colored Girls")

Ms. KIMBERLY ELISE (Actor): (as Crystal) Beau, maybe you shouldn't drink tonight.

(Soundbite of slap)

Mr. MICHAEL EALY (Actor): (as Beau Willie) Are you saying I got a problem?

Ms. ELISE: (as Crystal) I'm saying you need to take your meds.

Mr. EALY: (as Beau) Now you're telling me what I should do.

Ms. ELISE: (as Crystal) I'm telling you what to think. I'm not accusing you of anything.

Mr. EALY: (as Beau) I'm trying. I'm trying, Crystal.

Ms. ELISE: (as Crystal) I know. I know why you get mad sometimes. I get mad. But sometimes when you drink, you get out of control. Don't drink tonight.

MARTIN: Lee, you and I both wrote about the film, asking folks to tell us what they thought about the movie, whether they loved it, hated it, whether they were dying to see it or would do anything to avoid it. Blogger Tasita(ph) responded to my callout and she had this to say.

She wrote: I have not been a fan of Tyler Perry. I went to the film with two girlfriends, all of us black women, and we all had very different reactions. However, regardless of our critiques, we all agreed that the film raises issues that must be addressed in the black community. It isn't a film against men, it is a film for women.

HILL: Thanks, Tasita. We also heard from a male perspective. Blogger Darren(ph) wrote to us saying, I will not go see it. My wife went with the women in her family. I told her I would not go because it sounds like the same old stuff from Tyler Perry. From seemingly benevolent portrayals of black men in movies like "The Blindside," to broken male antagonists in Perry's movies, we're always pitched spitballs from Hollywood. And Darren says, I for one, am not catching those pitches.

MARTIN: Yes sir. I have to say there were some very interesting reactions to this film.

HILL: Plenty.

MARTIN: It just - all over the place. All over the place. Well, thank you, Darren. And, Lee, what else?

HILL: Well, Michel, there's a new development in the whole dust-up between rapper Kanye West and former President George W. Bush. There's been a lot of buzz surrounding Bush's, quote, "disgust" with the rapper's infamous comments during a live TV special in 2005. The rapper criticized the government's response to Hurricane Katrina, saying that, quote, "George Bush doesn't care about black people."

Well, Kanye this week stepped back from those comments on NBC's "Today Show."

(Soundbite of show, "Today Show")

Mr. KANYE WEST (Rapper): I would tell George Bush, in my moment of frustration, I didn't have the grounds to call him a racist. That I believe that in a situation of high emotion like that, we as human beings don't always choose the right words.

HILL: To which President Bush responded...

President GEORGE W. BUSH: I'm not a hater. I didn't hate Kanye West. But I was talking about an environment in which people were willing to say things that hurt. And nobody wants to be called a racist if in your heart you believe in equality of race.

HILL: So there you have it, Michel. I guess some might call this the hip-hop beef of 2010. I don't know.

MARTIN: All right. Between W and Kanye.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MARTIN: That is it. Thank you, Lee. We actually might talk about this a little bit more in the Barbershop. We'll see what the guys have to say. Thanks, Lee.

HILL: Thank you, Michel.

MARTIN: And, remember, with TELL ME MORE, the conversation never ends. To tell us more, you can call our comment line at 202-842-3522. Please remember to leave your name. You can also find me on Facebook or log onto our website. Go to NPR.org. Click on Programs, then on TELL ME MORE and blog it out.

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