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I Tried It: My Co-Worker Shamed Me Into Watching Purple Rain

Illustration by Sam Woolley/GMG

Yesha Callahan, The Root’s deputy managing editor, is a tyrant.

I think my troubles really began in earnest last April when the greatest of all time, Prince Rogers Nelson, departed this earthly plane and the office was reminiscing. Of course, Purple Rain, both the album and the film, came up in conversation. I casually mentioned that I had never seen the film.

That was a mistake.

I haven’t been able to live since.

Apparently, I had committed some crime in the first degree against the black community; my black card was immediately threatened, never mind that I had a good handle on the music (because I’m not an absolute heathen).


I tried to buffer my sins with the fact that I was raised in the West Indies. The fact that I didn’t really have a TV growing up because Hurricane Louis knocked out our cable in 1995 and my traitorous family never bothered to have it reinstalled. The fact that the film came out six years before I was even born. But Yesha was merciless because that is, in fact, just her middle name.

We could be talking about anything. The fact that I hadn’t seen Purple Rain automatically negated me from the conversation.

For example, this conversation from back in July:

Yesha: I’ve never had a 40.

Me: Neither have I.

Yesha: You haven’t seen Purple Rain … so that’s not saying much.

It got to a point where I think I was kind of not seeing it out of spite.

But Thursday—Thursday—I finally caved. Not because I actually cared to see the film, but because I wanted to see what the hype was about, to see what exactly Yesha had been holding over my head for the past year.


So I shelled out $4 to Amazon Video, grabbed my favorite white-cheddar popcorn and settled in.

And thus, there went two hours of my life—on a day off, as a matter of fact—that I would never be able to get back.

About 20 minutes in, I messaged Yesha:

Me: This movie is terrible and weird as shit.

Yesha: OMG. SHUT UP.

But I said what I said. I think those who are honest with themselves can objectively say that Purple Rain is a terrible movie. The acting is just a whole new level of bad, with no actual good actors to even attempt to carry the movie on their impressive acting chops. The plot was patchy at best.

That being said, all 200 of the concert scenes? Absolutely amazing. Prince may have been a terrible actor, but a performer he still was, and seeing him onstage, even TV stage, will never not be a treat.

Let me find out that Purple Rain was the first visual album.

And that’s when it hit me. Halfway through cringing through the acting, and singing along with the songs, I just stopped thinking of this joint as a movie and enjoyed it a million times more.


By the time Prince got around to singing the titular song, I may have been cheesing like an idiot and drumming on my laptop.

What a journey.

It was a conflicting one.

Prince’s musicianship and artistry will never be up for question. All musical parts of this experience were 10/10. Everything in between, though … eh.


Am I glad I watched Purple Rain? I could honestly have continued just listening to the album and thrived just the same. But hey, at least I’ve taken away Yesha’s trump card, which is never a bad thing.

Well, at least until she figures out what else I haven’t seen. But I’ve learned my lesson. She won’t be hearing about it from me.

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