Saturday, April 24, 2010

Writing Voice and Race: Can You Pick Up a Writer's Race in Storytelling and Tone?

Not a long post here, but I had to share the beginning of Wesley Morris's review of Tyler Perry's movie, Why Did I Get Married Too? It made me laugh, yes, but I also could tell before even clicking Morris's name to see his picture that he was black just in the first paragraph.
Tyler Perry is many things to many people. Stingy isn’t one of them. I paid $11 to see “Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married Too?’’ I got $111 of drama. That’s Broadway value. But very little on the stage — not even one of Perry’s own plays — has had me sweating, crying, rolling my eyes, and sucking my teeth like this. The movie is 120 minutes of emotional Stairmaster. It’s so exhausting, in fact, that Perry himself has to climb off early, ending the movie without really finishing it. Shocking car crashes, shocking confessions, shocking cancer, shocking cameos, shockingly wet hair: It’s like two seasons of some cable show condensed into two hours. Just watching a hysterical — and hysterically coiffed — Janet Jackson redecorate a house with a golf club burns 500 calories.

Perry’s premise is both more flagrant and more flagrantly entertaining than in the first film, from 2007, in which four flamboyantly bourgeois couples got together and examined the fractures in their loves. (BostonGlobe)
You can't always discern a writer's race from tone, but this piece is a great example of a writer's personality and cultural identity coming through in tone and voice. It's entertaining writing with flavor.

No, I did not get to see this movie, but it's still showing in my area, so maybe I will just to see all this drama that's not about me.

Yes, I am studying voice and style in writing at the moment.


steveburks said...

The words "stingy" and "drama," together in the same piece, are cues to the writer's cultural orientation. Especially "stingy." Do white people even say that? It's like our "ashy," versus their "chapped."

Vérité Parlant is Nordette Adams said...

I thought so too, and the word "bourgeois" doesn't mean quite the same thing either among whites as it does among blacks.

msladydeborah said...

If I had read the review it would of been obvious to me that the writer is Black.

"Tyler Perry is many things to many people." I use a similiar expression during peak times of multi-tasking that isn't going as planned. "You're being too many women at one time." I have never heard any White folks say that. Also the hair comment. We pay attention to the do-White folks only notice our hair when it is different than what they are accustomed to seeing.

TNT really doesn't know drama IMHO.We know drama and have no problem admitting that we laughed when it occurred.

I haven't see it yet either. But it is on my HSN (Hood Shopping Network) list. :-)

Naomi Johnson said...

Oh yeah, some white folks say stingy. All the time in my family. Maybe it's used more by whites in Appalachia than in other parts of the country?

Vérité Parlant is Nordette Adams said...

Yeah, Naomi, there's sometimes regional cross over. The farther south you go, the more you see and hear that's similar.