More times than I can remember, I’m sitting with a group of black people I’m just meeting or don’t know too well and the conversation drifts to Tyler Perry. The myth, the man the legend. And what self respecting black person can talk about Tyler Perry without bashing his movies? When this happens, as it often does, I sit there waiting for my turn. Then I hit ’em with the zinger.
“I actually like a lot of Tyler Perry’s movies.”
The atmospheric pressure changes as folks start judging me. I can almost read their minds.
Is she educated?
Is she from the south?
She must be a staunch Christian.
Is she related to Tyler Perry?
While I will say that Tyler Perry could stand to grow artistically, I’ve been entertained by a majority of his films– with the exception of Meet The Browns and Why Did I Get Married Too? And I say I’ve been entertained because I don’t need every movie I see to cause me to think deeper about the world, to expose me to some universal truth, make me cry or change my way of life. Sometimes, I just want to chill out and have a laugh or two. And Tyler Perry, Madea, and the overly dramatic story lines do that for me. I don’t need Tyler Perry to make Spike Lee-esque films. Spike Lee does that. If people would stop expecting Tyler to be Spike, the world would be a much happier place.
In fact, let’s just rest there for a minute. One of the main gripes people have about Tyler Perry is the fact that his characters and story lines rely so heavily on stereotypes. I won’t argue that they don’t; but so do most forms of the entertainment we unashamedly claim to love. Reality shows, hip hop, sitcoms etc all rely on stereotypes. And some of ya’ll tune in every week…religiously. What we need to realize is that though stereotypes can be harmful, when consumed by the wrong people, most of black folk who see Tyler Perry’s movies know enough about other black folk to realize we’re not all the same. Every black person is not a Christian, every black woman is not in need of a man to save her from her sense of entitlement. And every black grandma, doesn’t swear and carry a gun. But let’s not pretend that these women and characters don’t exist. In fact, most of us know somebody who’s a little something like Madea. Whether you want her broadcast on an international stage is more of a personal issue than it is about Tyler’s artistic abilities. As a free man, he chooses the stories he wants to tell. And since people continue to see and support his work, including the highly revered like Oprah, Maya Angelou, Cicely Tyson and apparently Ntozake Shange, I doubt he’ll be disappearing anytime soon.
Now, that I’ve professed my love for Tyler and his work, let me tell you why I’m seeing Temptation this opening weekend.
1. Jurnee Smollet is a very talented actress. If Tyler was going to cast a woman who can seamlessly tackle a range of very difficult emotions, I think she’s the one to do it.
2. Tyler employs black actors. It’s been said before but it bears repeating. Though Jurnee has been working since she was a little girl on “Full House,” as an adult actress the roles have been a little sparse. Why? I don’t know. (Though, I have a couple of guesses.) What I do know, is that Tyler Perry employs black actors who we might not see otherwise.
3. The trailer just looks juicy as hell. Nothing like watching someone else’s personal life crumble, to reassure yourself that you’re not doing too bad after all.
4. I can ignore Kimmy K. Do I really want to see Kim Kardashian in a movie? Not really, but just like I do on the internet, I can look past her, if necessary, when she’s on screen.
5. Two words: Lance Gross. More words: From the trailer, it looks like we’ll be seeing a woman willingly betray Lance for a man not nearly as attractive. I must know why.
6. It looks like it’ll be entertaining. Plain and simple.
What do you think about Tyler Perry’s movies? Do you plan on seeing Temptation?