Well, I'm glad someone finally said it. In an excellent article from Entertainment Weekly, the cultural war of Tyler Perry's films are examined. The story breakdowns the dichotomy of his films being terribly stereotypical, but bringing in tons of money and providing gigs for black actors. Here is an excerpt:
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
"Perry is being slammed for filling his films with regressive, down-market archetypes. In many of his films there's a junkie prostitute, a malaprop-dropping uncle, and Madea, a tough-talking grandma the size of a linebacker ('Jemima the Hutt,' one character calls her). ''Tyler keeps saying that Madea is based on black women he's known, and maybe so,'' says Donald Bogle, acclaimed author of Toms, Coons, Mulattoes, Mammies, & Bucks: An Interpretive History of Blacks in American Films. 'But Madea does have connections to the old mammy type. She's mammy-like. If a white director put out this product, the black audience would be appalled.'''
Professor Todd Boyd: "But it’s what his detractors consider to be his plantation-era attitudes that trouble them. 'All of his productions demonize educated, successful African-Americans,' says Todd Boyd, professor of critical studies at USC School of Cinematic Arts. 'It’s a demonization that has long existed in certain segments of the black community.'” An example? "In Madea Goes to Jail, for instance, the ambitious light-skinned female district attorney (Ion Overman) who puts Madea behind bars is not only a snob but a conniving, corrupt criminal. In Diary of a Mad Black Woman, the successful black businessman (Steve Harris) is a wife abuser, and in Tyler Perry's Madea's Family Reunion, the social-climbing mother-in-law (Lynn Whitfield) gets sneered at by Madea for committing the ultimate sin of trying to look 'bourgie,' as in bourgeois."
Oscar nominee Viola Davis keeps it real and says: ''There just aren't a lot of roles out there for black actors, and even fewer for black actresses, so if someone is going to give you a job, you're going to do it, even if you think it's substandard."
Nelson George, the creator of the Golden Globe winning film Life Support, says, "'Tyler Perry speaks to a constituency that is not cool,' George says. 'There’s nothing cutting-edge about the people who like Tyler Perry. So, for a lot of other people, it’s like, ‘What is this thing that’s representing black people all over the world? I don’t like it. It doesn’t represent me.’”
Excellent article. What I find the most interesting is the "audience" argument—black people are going to the movies and "theatre"! What people forget or just do not know is that the biggest supporters of minstrel shows and blackface from the 19th century to the 1950's were black people. Also, the only way black actors could get work was through blackface and minstrel shows… sound familiar? Except – it’s 2009.
Therefore, just because black folks support it and a black man is making money off of it --- doesn’t make it good or socially redeemable. We have supported plenty of garbage. I would have less of a problem with Perry's films if they weren't so terribly written , executed poorly and tragically unoriginal. It lowers the bar, which inhibits quality black films to see the light of day -- unless they dumb down their work.
Like Rosie Perez told me, "If I’m going be the maid, I better be a hell of a maid. I better have the biggest arc in the movie and there should be humility and depth to my character. Same thing if I was going to be a prostitute." His characters are not three dimensional and have no depth, it feels like Bamboozled come to life.
Click here for the full story.
Check this out:
Movie Review: Madea Goes to Jail
The Family That Preys Review?
Movie Review: Meet the Browns
Why Did I Get Married? Movie Review
Labels: Tyler Perry
Posted by Clay ::
9:36 AM ::