Obviously, this is Tyler Perry discussion. A few days ago, one of my white co-workers approached me, the lone black guy in the office, and asked “What’s your opinion on Tyler Perry movies?”
I already know what you’re thinking, and before you guys start asking if I went to Human Resources about it, let me be the first to tell you to CALM DOWN! It was an innocent question, and he made it clear that he’d seen previews and clips of Perry’s movies, along with the infamous verbal back-and-forth between Perry and Spike Lee in the news. He wanted to know what the target audience is for Tyler Perry films, because he knew it wasn’t simply “black.”
This probably should have been an awkward conversation inappropriate for the workplace, but it wasn’t. I told my co-worker that I respect Tyler Perry’s accomplishments and the fact that he’s doing his thing pretty much independently, but I usually do not like his films. Every once an awhile I actually do, but for the most part, they don’t do it for me. Also, we agreed that House of Payne is f*cking payne-ful to watch. That didn’t need much discussion. To answer his target audience question, I said “To each his or her own, but if I had to name a group most likely to watch Tyler Perry movies, it would be the same folks that are likely to go to see church stage plays. I’m not big on his movies and shows, but my Grandma likes them.”
It took all of that to say that I’m rooting for Tyler Perry to succeed, but at the same time, I hope he grows and challenges himself to improve on the product he’s putting out there. I don’t have a problem with Spike Lee speaking his mind about his opinion, nor do I have one with Perry responding to it. However, when Tyler Perry decided to go hard in the paint, talking ’bout “Spike can go straight to Hell“, this was my immediate thought regarding the matter:
“Damn Tyler! I’d respect the way you fired back at Spike, if you weren’t a 6-foot n*gga wearing a dress. That undercuts the message!“
Don’t get me wrong: the Black man in drag for laughs thing has been done many times before Madea, and it’s been everything from funny to unbearable. My problem with it is that in 2011, there’s not much humor left in that shtick. I grew up a Martin Lawrence fan, but there was no way in Hell that you’d get me to sit through another Big Momma’s House movie. I don’t care if someone had a gun to my head. I’d just have to die a man of principle, because sitting through another “black man dresses up as an old black woman” movie would make me wish my captor had just pulled the trigger. I won’t even go into the deeper issues, because plenty or articles have already been written about those.
So Tyler, if you’re reading this, instead of getting your panties in a bunch over the criticism, focus on the craft of filmmaking and challenge yourself to not rely on some variation of the “good woman with bad man with good job meets good man with shitty job and/or prior arrests” formula you’ve been using in the films of yours I’ve seen. Well, that, and stop dressing like a giant woman with floppy titties. If you can at least do that one, it’s a start in the right direction!
*Leon’s Note* I will admit that I’ve had a laugh or to thanks to Madea, but not many. Just wanted to clear that up for folks who think I’m saying the character is 100% horrible. To me, Madea is just 75% horrible, and 25 percent “Ehh…whatever.”Tweet