Sunday, October 25, 2009

You Can Only Speak For Yourself

The faint scent of ginger still hangs in the air. I made a quasi-Asian soup with shrimp, cabbage, carrot and ginger for dinner tonight. The Spouse watches a dark mystery from Sweden.
My own mind mulls over tonight's "60 Minutes" interview with Tyler Perry, my newest creative hero. His independent studio near Atlanta brings his TV shows and movies to the world. He's written several plays as well as helping his alter ego Madea hit the best seller list. Instead of the extremes of the socioeconomic spectrum, Tyler's vision was to bring the stories of working class African Americans to the screen and stage. After being rejected by Hollywood and lambasted by some as setting the stereotypes back to the Amos and Andy era, he financed his projects with his own money and the rest is history.
Granted, I'm Caucasian, and I don't tote a gun as does Madea in the clips that I've seen. But there are times when faith and your own inner strength are about all you have to go on. That I can relate to. Caregiving for crazy relatives? Been there, done that, have the T-shirt in several colors. 
I thought tonight of the times when I sat through movies or abandoned books that were "should" reads because of telling women's stories, and feeling an utter lack of resonance with them, such as the movie version of "Under the Tuscan Sun," which had been dumbed down into a syrupy mess bearing little resemblance to the book whatsoever. "Sex and the City?" I am not into shoes; I have been married to The Spouse for over 20 years. It had nothing to do with my life. Well, the episode where a boyfriend's Brittany demolished a $300 shoe, I found that entertaining. And the movie "American Psycho" being described as "feminist?" No, I don't think describing a serial killer's mental processes has anything to do with the reality of a woman's life.  I think it's called male bashing, which is divisive and not very helpful.
The more personal a writer or an artist gets, the more he or she touches on the heart of human experience. The more a writer or artist acts as if they give voice to other members of their demographic group, the more his or her arrogance separates them.
Gloria Steinem once said that the personal is political. Maybe if we spoke for ourselves, spoke out about our own stories without presuming to tell someone else's story, the voices would blend into the soundtrack for the revolution.


  1. I enjoyed reading this post. I especially like the last paragraph. What profound words. I have always been fascinated by the personal stories that people have to tell about who they are, where they've been, and what they believe. I find hope in the fact that even though these stories are often dismissed as anecdotes, they do still have a space and a voice in any society. I think it is up to the ones who believe in the power of such stories to continue to work to bring them to the center of public consciousness.

  2. Hi, and thanks for your comment, Voluntary Simplicity! It made my day. Do you have plans to write your story?