October 28, 2009 | | Comments 20

Tyler Perry: Cunning or Cooning?

madeaby Demetrius D. Walker

Nobody in Hollywood can hold a candle to Tyler Perry’s meteoric rise to stardom in the last decade.  From niche market gospel plays to Black blockbuster bravado, Perry is the American Dream realized – a rags to riches phenomenon.  Despite Tyler Perry’s cinematic and syndicated success, anchored in applying Christian family values to modern day strife, there are those who choose to label the brother a sell-out.  In defense of America’s first Black movie mogul, these haters are nothing more than ornery crabs in a barrel.

Critics of Tyler Perry’s work tend to cite his caricature of Madea, a fiesty, pistol packing granny, as the fundamental flaw in his representation of the Black race.  They feel that if it weren’t for Perry cross dressing and posing as the boisterous, belligerent, “buffoon” we love to laugh at, he would be irrelevant.  Most recently, Spike Lee, a brother I admire, threw a pity party and chose to throw Tyler Perry under the bus.  Lee, not understanding why many of his movies have flopped by box office standards, inappropriately lashed out against Perry for stealing his shine.  Peep the clip here:

Sorry Spike, but that was a hater move homie.  Fundamentally you are complaining that the audience which appreciates your intellectually stimulating, artistic gems, is quantitatively limited, therefore relegating your films to irrelevance and elevating Brother Perry’s films to prominence.  Nothing could be farther from the truth Spike.  Yes, it is difficult to gain the attention span of a generation breast fed ignorance by BET, commercialized Hip Hop, and mentally contaminated media… Trust me, if anyone knows this it’s me.  But Spike, Tyler Perry supplies solutions to these problems, not provocations.

While I cannot say that I have thoroughly enjoyed every TP film, musical, or television episode I have watched, (some have been a little corny), I will admit that I see the light in all the endeavors Tyler Perry produces.  Never have I witnessed Perry using his theatrical vehicle to encourage ignorance, promote Black destruction, or attract mockery.  Perhaps it is because I, like many other Black Americans, grew up with someone strikingly familiar to Perry’s Madea.  Inside my brain I shriek when critics label this character too “over the top.”  If you think Madea is over the top, I challenge you to come to Harlem with me and meet my great-aunt A.P.  APReneeJasmineStep to her wrong and A.P. will curse you out worse than NWA in ’91… piss her off and I hope you wore a teflon diaper cause she’ll bust a cap in your @ss for sure!  So for the critics that claim characters like Madea are too unrealistic, over the top, and don’t really exist in the Black community, I advise you to get off your bougie high horse and politic with your folk in the hood.

Anyone who cannot see the brilliance that Tyler Perry exudes is pointing a misguided finger.  If you just can’t resist pointing out the coons that are truly responsible for the dumbing down of Black youth, let me help you out – PLIES.  Yes, this 5 foot, gold-mouthed, midget single handedly destroys more Black brain cells than malt liquor, pork fried rice, and slavery combined.  Consciously concealing the fact that he attended college, Plies tries his best to be the innovator of ignorance.  Instead of promoting the proper grammar and sentence structure he accidentally reverts to in radio interviews and chance meetings, Plies sells albums to your kids telling them to be his “bust it babies” and assuring them that he is “real.”  Jamie Foxx recently called this so called “goon” out, mentioning how he cowered like a bust it baby fresh out of Newports when some real gangsters showed up to his video shoot.

Anyway, back to the debate on Tyler Perry.  Before you cast judgment on this brother I challenge you to watch Diary of a Mad Black Woman (no Bruno).  I also challenge you to investigate his opening of the first fully independent Black production studio, a studio that puts great Black talent to work amidst a Hollywood that overwhelmingly shuts us out.  If you’re still not satisfied after that then kick rocks… Tyler Perry is good for Black America.

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  1. PhilICEopher says:

    Music and movies are no comparison, again rap videos are “mini movies” but the IMAGES that are viewed by his huge audiences BUT I think Spike has a very good point, he is telling the truth, he is not throwing anyone under the bus, he is saying what WHITE america says as they sit on their couches and watch Tyler Perry’s coonery

  2. PhilICEopher says:

    correction: “Images that are viewed by his huge audiences are taking effect not just in the so called hiphop generation, but it transcends MULTIPLE generations”

  3. TheBrownAngel says:

    This is a prime example of division causing magic not to happen. If these brothers were to get together and make a movie, I bet it would be amazing.. They won’t because the script says be at odds with each other… The sad thing is that I believe that they both want the same thing, there’s just a generational difference on how to do it.. Spike Lee should respect Tyler Perry more then he’s showing by putting him on blast like he did… On the other hand, Spike Lee has earned his stripes and he has cleared the way for brothers like Tyler Perry. He’s taken a lot of fire for the cause, so people can’t be too hard on him.. You talk about your aunt in Harlem, well look at Spike like you old salty Vietnam Vet uncle…lol.. I think this shows the lack of respect that Tyler Perry has shown for Spike Lee too. How has he not reached out to get to know Spike Lee, an industry elder?… You can tell because if they had really had any one on one conversation, then this would have come out in private… You can tell they haven’t talked… If that is the case then that’s not right on his part… They need to do a movie together, it would probably make a killin’…

  4. @PHILICEopher Using White America as your barometer for what you deem worthy as entertainment to the Black community means you have succumbed to White Supremacy. Why should you or Spike Lee deem any art coonery based on how you perceive White people reacting to the images? Coonery is the conscious exploitation of ignorance for the sole purpose of turning a profit and/or impressing those outside the Black race. Perry is not selling out Blacks to Whites…. he’s pitching self worth to Brothers and Sisters.

  5. Endurer says:

    I think both have validity in their comments but again, media using this to pit two brothers seemingly against each other. Yeah, in essence Rosewood gave a very serious and real account of what took place in Florida. Boyz-n-da-Hood gave an accurate depiction of what takes place even today in the Negro community. Tyler Perry, if reports are corrects, brought more money to Hollywood than any other last year. If that be the case, he’s adding to the economy. The problem with America is that it’s not enough for people to just be in media and entertainment we have to do what they deem we should do. If Spike wants to complain about something, he should go after Black Exploitation Television, oh sorry B.E.T.

  6. Michael says:

    First off, Boyz in the Hood’s message was the loss of innocence. The characters destroy beauty through their ignorance. It doesn’t belong in the same category.

    Madea Meets Ernest. They go to prison.

    Buffoons. White bufoonery, black coonery- it is the same. The sad part is that while he might think that it is a favor that it all ends well and has a message, some people don’t critically look at movies and only see the initial message sent.

    They are loud-ass characatures of very real people. I grew up around Madea just like you, but I also grew up with 1000s of not-Madeas. Normal, plain, working, striving poor black folk that have stories that are worthy of telling. They’re the story of me growing up and the hood I occupied.

    The thing that Spike is failing to portray is that white people see crazy-ass niggas doin some crazy-ass nigga shit. That’s nominal because they already are afraid to look in on the real black man. If that is the only time that someone sees black people, then it is no loss. White people are only seeing this in passing. The real shit is when I see little black boys and girls thinking Tyler Perry is what BLACK is. I see adults that can’t act right and instead of holding themselves responsible, they blame it on “just acting black.” “You wouldn’t understand because you ain’t BLACK.””It’s just a black thing.” I would say that they are just excuses, but they aren’t. That is what black people show each other that they are, what the box office tells them they are. TV, music, movies, sports, entertainment, church, school… all places to learn what BLACK is. What we have is a problem with who is telling us.

    Obama is black (REALLY BLACK) when he’s fucking ballin’ in the white house. He is white when he meets dignitaries. He is black when he meets the All-Star team. White when he legislates, black when he gets pissed off and fired up. When I see it, he’s always acting black. He’s always Obama. We need to know that all people have emotions and when a white man reacts it is the same reaction. You can ball and be white. There’s not a black sport out there and I’m glad. There used to be and it was terrible.

    My man Brandon’s aunty was loud and shit, and threw shoes. That was who she is. She was also the lady that took us to museums and taught inner-city school. She was multi-faceted and intelligent. She had a hard time raising a son that wasn’t hers and teaching right from wrong and being a mother to anyone that’d let her. Was she Madea sometimes? Yeah. Did she act like a nigger at resturants? Yep. Did she carry a piece and live in the hood? Sure did. Did I focus on that? Yes, and I learned what I didn’t want for myself. Did it make me think less of her? No. I try to be more and less like her every day.

    Larry the Cableguy is the exact same character. A white, male, BUCK COON. He is not Larry the Cableguy. That is a character that he made up for people that identify with the dumb asshole in the movies and on stage. He thinks less of his audience and gets what he wants. Bags of cash, loyal dumb fans, and licensing deals. Do I think it’s despicable? Yeah. People that could have kids that grow out of the situation they’re in will instead be told- “YOU ARE A REDNECK. WHEN YOU GET IN A PUBLIC SITUATIONS ACT THE PART.” The excuse for acting niggerish will be the exact same. ” I will not take responsibility for my actions because I was being me- a redneck. This is how I am and you would never understand.”

    I do understand. Listen to the jokes- they are the same jokes. Look at the little kid at walmart with mama screaming at the bad-ass little kids. Coon or Buffoon?

    Cultural learning. You are poor and stupid, so stay that way. This is what we are shown, so this is what we are.

    Could Tyler Perry be so intelligent and well thought and think so little of the people around him to make these people the focus of his movies? Black people are watching and they see it. Now they know. He is speaking to them, and what is he saying? He shows all of the beauty and God, but can he entertain his audience without Big Momma or Mushmouth? I’d like to see his writing on display.

    Please make a serious drama about a real quiet, strong black man or woman that stands alone. Make a comedy that is light-hearted and fun that isn’t derivative. White writers do it all the time for white audiences but he shows me that either he thinks that the monkeys he makes movies for wouldn’t get it, or they don’t deserve it. Would the message not shine though if not through the prism of a bunch of stereotypes?

    He could add to the economy and hire black people and cast them in serious roles. He could shift his focus and no one would be paid any less.

  7. Peace and I have seen one of the productions and in general.
    I don’t watch or go to events with black men wearing dresses or wigs or running around screaming like they are women.
    That is crazy and there is nothing funny to
    me about it.Especially when I think what Ida B. Wells went thru.

  8. Eric Jones says:

    Not a fan of the Madea stuff. I think it portray a small section of the black community. I think that we need to really take a deep look at what we are doing. It is time to separate black people from niggas. And your skin color does not make you a nigga. So we as black people need to do and be better.

    I think Spike comments were a little harsh tho. He could have communicated his opinion in a better way as to not diminish Tyler Perry’s character. But Spike is human and he was probably speaking passionately. I don’t think he was hating just speaking passionately without considering his responsibility to kind and loving even in his disagreement.

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