Spike Lee is Right; Tyler Perry Makes Black People Look Ignorant
Do you think Tyler Perry's work is offensive?
Spike Lee has stirred up a fresh batch of controversy for comparing the work of Tyler Perry to turn-of-the-century minstrel shows like Amos 'n Andy. His comments have divivded onlookers into those who support Lee, and those who support Perry.
However, Spike was dead-on accurate about Tyler Perry's productions.
People have been raving about Perry's accomplishments: the fact that he keeps Black actors employed, that he has his own studio and that he is the highest paid African-American director in Hollywood.
But let's be real: Tyler Perry isn't doing anything praiseworthy. He's just recycling the same, age-old stereotypes. The ones that make Blacks look so ignorant that people begin to believe that all of us act uncivilized, which isn't even remotely true.
Some people parade this man around like he's a positive role model for Black people. If he really cared about Black people, why did he fire 4 of his Black writers when they tried to unionize? Why is his only defense for the ignorant "characters" he portrays the fact that they exist in real life? And why do his movies and plays seemingly try to destroy the image of the male African-American?
Table of Contents
My Experience With Tyler Perry's Work
I'll admit it right now; I haven't watched that much of Tyler Perry's catalogue. That's because it would take me an entire lifetime to digest that much ignorance.
When I was a freshman in college, I caught a few minutes of one of his plays recorded on DVD. I forget which one it was, but it doesn't matter anyway; they're all pretty much the same. I didn't take much notice of it then, it just struck me as kinda...meh...
A few years later I sat through Diary of a Mad Black Woman. That was a pretty good film except for one, glaring mistake: Madea. "Her" ignorant antics were just too much. I mean really, chainsawing a couch in half? Really?
But again, I didn't really pay that much attention to Tyler Perry because he wasn't doing anything I hadn't already seen. And then House of Payne came on. Oh wow, that is one of the most irresponsible and self-destructive shows about Black people I've ever seen. I only sat through one episode because it was so offensive. I'm surprised BET didn't pick it up.
My Experience With Tyler Perry's Work (cont'd)
I had never seen anything like it in my life. It was literly like watching Spike Lee's Bamboozled, but in real-life! It wasn't even funny for starters. Like...you could actually tell it wasn't filmed in front of a televised audience; that's how dry it was. And it wasn't just that, it was the way some of the characters were portrayed. Specifically the Black men.
I was shocked to see Allen Payne was apart of this foolishness. He went from performing in movies like New Jack City, Jason's Lyric, and The Tuskegee Airmen to this garbage. I couldn't believe it.
And Meet the Browns...Oh God. Just from watching that asinine commercial with Mr. Brown trying to practice "yoda", spewing out random, incoherent words and phrases is too much. That's what you call "A Happy Negro"; a Black man that is content with being ignorant.
Tyler Perry Fired Black Writers That Tried to Unionize
Another problem I have with Tyler Perry is the fact that he fired 4 of his writers for that God-awful show House of Payne when they tried to unionize. Really? This is the man people are championing around as a crusader for the Black man; America's underdog. And this is how he gets down?
I added a link to an interview at the bottom of this article with an interview where he addresses this; but it sounds like he's talking sideways, dancing around the Hollwood stunt he pulled.
Some of the benefits of being in a union are higher salaries, job security and mandatory insurance coverage, and from a worker's perspective, I was infuriated. According to sources, these people wrote nearly 100 episodes for that coonery-laced sitcom of his. And when they try to band together to better themselves, he hits the kill switch on their jobs? Come on now. No matter how you look at that, it's messed up.
From a Black man's perspective who's aware, I'm confused. He's supposed to be "one of us", so why the theatrics? He should know firsthand how hard it is for Black people to break into the industry. Oh wait. He wouldn't. He took the easy route.
Madea & The Emasculation of the Black Man
The most disturbing reason I don't like Tyler Perry has to do with the subliminal message that keeps showing up in the majority of his work. It's about the emasculation of the Black man, or simply, making Black men more feminine, and thereby, less of a threat.
How can I see that? Just look at the character of Madea. You've got a grown Black man, in a dress, wig and makeup, acting like a woman. And this same man just so happens to be the highest grossing Black director in Hollywood? Do you see the subliminal message that sends out?
There's a very dark history of getting all men (not just Black) to "put on the dress". I won't go into it in this article. Rest assured it's there. However, when it comes to Black actors, its like a requirement that you have to put on the dress in order to be accepted in the industry. Chris Rock did it in CB4. Ving Rhames did it. Martin Lawrence did it in Big Momma's House. Chris Tucker did it in The Fifth Element. And they tried to get Dave Chapelle to do it in Blue Streak, but he wouldn't.
The Youtube Video below explains this in more detail.
Dressing in Drag in Hollywood Explained (Video)
Madea & The Emasculation of the Black Man (cont'd)
Anyone familiar with the history of this country and slavery will see similiarites between this theme of emasculating Black men and the practices / mentalities that used to plague this country. Some of which still do. (i.e. Planned Parenthood eugenics)
Male Black slaves were regularly castrated (mentally and even physically) to keep them from reproducing and under control. It was a systematic approach to keeping an entire culture of people in check. Nas spoke about this in the unreleased song "Fear of the Black Man's D*ck", and there are studies and entire college courses dedicated to this topic.
So it's really no surprise that a Black man who dresses in drag was so easily introduced into the industry and so heavily rewarded. They call Tyler Perry revolutionary and courageous, but only because his work makes Black men look weak and sub-human.
So there you have it. I wholeheartedly agree with Spike Lee's view on Tyler Perry. He makes us look ignorant. And it's crazy, because people are so used to seeing ignorant depictions of Black people, that they think its acceptable! What happened to good-natured comedies like The Steve Harvey Show, or The Bernie Mac Show? Sanford & Son? Does anyone even remember My Brother and Me? Shows that made you feel good about being Black, not guilty!
It's irresponisble to peddle stereotypes that bring Black people down, when it's very possible (and profitable) to show us how we are: a multi-dimensional group of people with flaws and strengths just like the rest of the world. You can show ignorance, but create some kind of balance, damnit.
But then again, its always easier to stay fed when you sleep at the foot of the master's bed.
Nas - Fear of the Black Man's D*ck (Video)
- Tyler Perry Fires Writers for Union Activity, Strikers Claim | NBC Chicago
NBC Chicago article about Tyler Perry firing writers for trying to form a union.
- Tyler Perry's Interview About The Firing of 4 of His Writers
A reproduction of the article where Tyler Perry discusses the firing of his 4 writers.