Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Why I Can't Hate on Tyler Perry
I was one of those people who viewed Tyler Perry's work as coonery. I couldn't understand why black folks go out in droves to see a grown man dressed up like a foul-mouth grandma who keeps one hand on her cigarrette and the other on her gun. Yet, won't pack a theater for an August Wilson play. I refused to support Perry's plays. One day my co-worker in Oakland convinced me to watch some of the plays she had on VHS. I figured I might as well see what the hoopla was all about. My mom and I watched "Diary of a Mad Black Woman," "Madea's Family Reunion," and "I Can Do Bad All By Myself"all in one weekend. I was hooked. I loved Madea, bad diction and all. She's the friend you call when it's about to go down because you know she'll have your back. She's the sista that tells it like it is and isn't afraid to do it. She's the relative that needs Jesus but you love her anyway. Sometimes when Madea goes off, you feel her anger and wish you could snap off on somebody just like she does. Madea cracks me up.
I couldn't tell anyone about my guilty pleasure. I studied these images in my ethnic studies college classes back in the day (not too far back in the day though). Aren't these the kind of images that only reinforced negative stereotypes of black people? Or are they okay because Perry's work is for our black eyes only?
Once Perry started making films I confessed to loving his work. I can't hate on Perry. His movies are funny and they carry a positive message. Plus, he's giving black actors work --something desperately missing in Hollywood. Will Smith, Halle Berry and Denzel Washington are great artists but I'm sure they're not the only black actors who can read a script. I understand those who don't like Perry's work. My issue is not with him, it's with Hollywood. If movie producers and directors were more open to casting black actors in roles that weren't stereotypical--Perry wouldn't be a problem for some black folks. I know he has said he's tired of playing Madea. Judging by "The Family that Preys" and "Madea Goes to Jail" I can see Perry in the near future creating good black dramas. I'm not crazy about his TV show "House of Payne" but I would love for him to produce a black TV drama. The only black TV drama on is "Lincoln Heights" on ABC Family. The last one before that was Showtime's "Soul Food."
With that said I'm not surprised "Madea Goes to Jail" is #1 for the second week in a row. Reuters reports Perry is set to shoot his next film this month--"I Can Do Bad All By Myself." He's also working on a sequel to "Why Did I Get Married?" Hallelujer!