NPR Producer Holds Applause for Tyler Perry Film
MICHEL MARTIN, host:
Every now again, when I have something on mind, I like to talk about it in a commentary. But today, I'm handing the mic over to Teshima Walker, senior producer of TELL ME MORE. She peeled herself away from the office long enough to see the film that topped last weekend's box office. But can I just tell you? Teshima was not that impressed.
TESHIMA WALKER: This past weekend, I sat in a sold-out theater with a large bucket of popcorn and a cola waiting to see Tyler Perry's latest movie, "Why Did I Get Married?"
There was so much buzz surrounding the movie, I made plans to see a matinee. I'm vaguely familiar with Perry's past movies that involved him dressing as an old, loud, talking gun-wielding grandma named Madea. His movies are funny, with simple messages about love and family, so I admit it. I didn't have any great expectations for the movie's plot. I didn't expect to see any award-winning performances. I did expect to be entertained, and I love to see movies that portray black people's lives. If you haven't seen it, now is the time to cover your ears. Here's a short synopsis.
Four couples meet annually at some fabulous location - this time Colorado - to recommit to their marriages. They don't have time during the rest of the year because everyone is working hard trying to make that money, live the dream.
Okay, so the movie had some hold-your-belly-funny moments, and I'm laughing with everyone else in the theater until the scene on an airplane with husband and wife, Sheila and Mike, played by singer Jill Scott and actor Richard T. Jones.
Sheila has the middle seat. Her hips and butt spill onto the seats of some eye-rolling passengers. The flight attendant walks slowly toward Sheila to inform her that because her butt is a size extra-extra large, she's going to have to pay for two seats. Her husband Mike snickers. He has no sympathy for his wife. Mike opens up his wallet, takes out some cash, hands it to Sheila and tells her to drive her big ass through three states to the retreat. And she takes the money and drives, all the while praying to save her marriage.
Oh, it was too much. It wore me down. Michel, let me borrow you line right here, and can I just tell you that I'm a black woman with an extra-extra large behind. And if I had a dollar for every time I saw a character in a movie where a fat black woman was an emotional victim, the center of a hurtful fat joke, the prayerful matron of all thin women and children, I'd buy my own damn studio and write movies about real, everyday fat women.
I'd write about fat women that love food and lick their fingers after eating a piece of chicken. I'd have modest fat girls and juicy fat vixens that wear tight-short skirts with five-inch heels. I'd have fat evil executives that shout at everyone to hell, and I'd have the loveable fat woman that had two men vying for her attention.
Now, do I say all of this to say that I - well, other fat women don't have moments when we feel sorry for ourselves. Have I considered diet pills? Yes. Hired a personal trainer? Yes. Do I consider any of the surgeries that will shrink my stomach and my buttocks? Sometimes, yes. But because this is my body and I love it, I've made some decisions.
I want to be healthy. I will marry the man that loves extra-extra large me. And the next time a movie director or writer struggles to create a smart, funny and fashionable fat girl, call us, sister. I can help.
MARTIN: Bring the heat, Teshima. Teshima Walker is the supervising senior producer for TELL ME MORE.
(Soundbite of music)
MARTIN: And that's our program for today. I'm Michele Martin, and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News.
Let's talk more tomorrow.