Thursday, November 11, 2010

Tyler Perry - A Thoughtful Commentary on the One Man (Out of Many) Who (Further) Tarnished Black Cinema

Tyler Perry (born Emmitt Perry, Jr.; September 13, 1969) is an American actor, director, playwright, screenwriter, producer, and author.[1] Already a successful artist in Southern theater, Perry began to make national celebrity status in 2005 with the release of his first movie, Diary of a Mad Black Woman. In 2009, Perry was ranked by Forbes magazine as the sixth highest-paid man in Hollywood.[2] As of July 2009, Perry's films had grossed nearly $400 million worldwide. -

Extracted from Wikipedia

Writer, actor, producer, director. Born Emmitt Perry Jr. on September 13, 1969, in New Orleans, Louisiana. Tyler Perry has forged his own way in the entertainment industry, building an empire that consists of successful films, plays, and even a best-selling book. One of four children, he had a difficult childhood, suffering years of abuse at the hands of his carpenter father. He once described his father as a man "whose answer to everything was to beat it out of you." -

Extracted from (click the link to read more)

Now, to begin, I want to start off by saying that I am happy for the man, truly I am. If his biography is to be believed in its entirety then I wont begrudge him finding a little success. However, this is were my happiness, forgiveness, and understanding come to an end, because, regardless of the events that occurred during his childhood and early adulthood, the man is a blight on cinema.

Just peruse some of the films in his filmography. I'll admit, Diary of a Mad Black Woman was not a horrible film, but a work of cinematic brilliance? Not so much. However, subsequent films like Meet the Browns, I Can Do Bad All By Myself, etc. have incorporated some imagery and stereotypes that almost make his attempts at movies (I won't comment on his plays as I've never seen one) seem almost though he's trying to incorporate a religious mini-minstrel show into the mix. From the hyper religious aspects to the character of Meda, Tyler Perry seems to believe incorporating and overemphasizing features of the black community (most notably the urban or rural lower class segment of the black population) in order to craft his tales. However, due to the fact that his screen play writing abilities seem lacking at best-in the opinion of this blogger that is-his characters often come of as false and patronizing. They are mere caricatures with little depth outside of what is immediately obvious, which is often the same across most of his works. The women, having lost God in some way or another, have lost their way in life and are struggling to understand why their life is so difficult; the men, arbiters of the forgotten God, work in one capacity or another to force the woman to return to religion and mindless faith; and, of course, there is Madea, who explains his/herself . And that, in short, is the sum total of Perry's characterization of his characters.

However, Perry's movies also work on another detrimental level. That level being the demonetization of black males who could not pass the brown paper bag test, and also of black males who make over five figures annually. I doubt many could explain why, other than typical Hollywood racism, why the "evil" characters, or those characters outside of "God's Will", typically tend to be darker skinned. However, as the situation stands, they are, and Perry has quite a bit of influence over the casting direction the film takes, so why then would he not be an equal opportunity demonizer? Lighter skinned black males are just as capable of being selfish, oppressive, dictatorial, and crude as darker skinned males, yet you'd never know it from a Perry film. Indeed, darker skinned black males not only possess the aforementioned character traits, but they are also the buffoons, sleazebags, and worse. Additionally, Perry's films seem to degrade men who are monetarily successful, either through skill, intelligence, or savvy, while those who are blue collar workers are placed on a pedestal as the zenith of success and humility. Sorry Perry, I'm not buying it; people with negative character traits span the spectrum of race and class, and anyone with any lived experience knows this.

But I don't blame Perry entirely for this; I don't care how much you want to break into show business, black men should never degrade themselves by taking up these roles. That's not to say I believe that black men shouldn't play the villain, or what have you, but after awhile someone should have started a strike against Perry until he reversed the overly simplistic roles and dichotomy (e.g.-dark good/light bad).

Further, there is the problem of Madea. If Perry confessed to being a cross dresser, gender queer, androgynous, or latent transsexual woman I might not be quite a disgusted as I am with him. However, dressing up as a domineering black woman who epitomizes every stereotype in the book just for ****s and giggles is not okay. It wasn't okay when Eddie Murphy did it (i.e.-Nutty Professor, Norbit, etc.) and it is not okay now. The cooning and ridiculous antics are not funny to those of us who have the ability to critically think, or, at the very least, rub two synapses together. In fact, many of the characters in Perry's films can be down right insulting to one's intelligence, especially Madea.

In concluding, while I do not begrudge Perry for "making something of himself", so to speak, I am terribly disappointed in not only his latest efforts, but his work overall. One would hope in the 21st Century POC would have a more socially conscious outlook, or, at the very least, would not cater to white America's stereotyping of POC. For this grievous offense, Mr. Perry, I would have to humbly request that you desist in writing, producing, and publishing films until you have a more enlightened outlook on life and creativity.


-Side Note/Mini-Rant- By the way, how does one make Angela Bassett come of as a terrible actress!? That's not supposed to be possible! How poor could your directing and writing be that I would be forced to cringe every time Bassett's character opened her mouth? Even more than for the last offense, Mr. Perry deserves to be stripped of his ability to make films, at least until he can write and direct in such a way that he can actually utilize the talent he hires. -End Side Note/Mini-Rant-



-They're waiting for your decision, Mr. Perry, and they won't take no for an answer...-


  1. I must admit I don't know much about this guy or his films. I know some people accuse him of colourism, and I guess there could be some true in those claims. Not sure what can be done here. It's disrespectful to say the least.

    As for -Side Note/Mini-Rant:

    I love Angela Bassett. She's one of my favourite actresses, and I find her to be one of the most beautiful (celebrity) women in the world. <- Just my female opinion, though. But hotness aside, the woman can act and it's a shame she's somewhat underrated.

    I can't believe anything or anybody could make this woman's acting crappy.

  2. Trust me, it's a good thing you don't know anything about his films (well most of them at least. "Why Did I Get Married?" was decent, but the colourism was still there.).

    However, if you must see one film to see what I'm talking about, check out "Meet the Browns". I wouldn't suggest paying too much to rent it (your wallet will probably hate you if you do), but it has everything a typical Perry film has, and you can see what I'm talking about in terms of Angela Bassett's acting. Other than that, I strongly recommend you stay away from most, if not all, of his other "works".

    Also, Bassett is beautiful. If there was one woman over fifty I'd sell one of my kidneys to date, it would have to be her. XD

  3. This is a d@mn good blog you have here. Everything you said is correct. I didn't notice his constant uplifting of blue-collar men until 1. I read a comment at Abagond's about it and 2. I read this...

    Come to think of it all the rich men in his movies had messed up personalities.

    Also, Im getting sick of black men dressing in drag to portray black women. Its adding to the already prevalent and disgusting stereotype that black women are indeed mannish and domineering.

  4. @Zaire Y:

    Thank you!

    Come to think of it all the rich men in his movies had messed up personalities.

    Some of the women are that way too, unfortunately.

    Also, Im getting sick of black men dressing in drag to portray black women. Its adding to the already prevalent and disgusting stereotype that black women are indeed mannish and domineering.

    Amen to that!

  5. What happened to my last comment? I guess I forgot to type captcha word or something.

    Well, it wasn't "that" important, I guess. I thanked you for movie recommendations and said that I always found Angela Bassett beautiful, I just didn't know what's male opinion on her. (Because, let's face it, the most praised celebrity women are those who don't look classy at all).

    As for black men in drag- Zaire, you are right! I am not against men in drag, but not when it's disrespectful and for a comic effect. This way, they simply continue with the harmful stereotypes about black women. It's really offensive, and pointless. And while men dressed as women can be funny, it also gets old fast. On this case, this is more than just a simple fun...

  6. You're very welcome. And, yeah, my male opinion tends to be a bit different than the opinions of other males for some reason. Often the women men find to be beautiful I don't. I guess I'm kinda weird like that.