All Articles Tagged "spike lee tyler perry"
by Steven Barboza
If Perry Can Do Bad All By Himself, Should Black Critics Assign His Films to “Perry’s Inferno”?
We live in the age of Tyler Perry.
He is everywhere – on billboards, in sitcom credits, in profiles of Hollywood heavyweights. His stage and screen creation, Madea – a feisty, linebacker of a grandmother – has joined the pantheon of black comedic characters, a hall of fame that includes Flip Wilson’s Geraldine and Bill Cosby’s Fat Albert. And soon, Perry will appear in a thriller as the crime-solving psychologist Alex Cross, a role made famous by Oscar-winner Morgan Freeman. The film will be shot in Cleveland starting next month.
Perry is arguably the most successful black film director, producer and screenwriter in history, a mogul whose status in Hollywood is a testament to his business acumen and artistic ingenuity. Why then are there so many Tyler Perry haters?
There’s a huge market for his films. But the black literati have designated a special place in hell for them: Perry’s Inferno. The criticisms are harsh indeed. They go something like this:
• Tyler Perry is the “KFC of black cinema.”
• Tyler Perry’s television shows contain “old stereotypes of buffoonish, emasculated black men and crass, sassy black women.”
• Tyler Perry is a no-count filmmaker whose works are excuses for feel-good sermonizing, not vehicles for human drama that will enlighten us.
This is just not the kind of criticism you’d expect to hear about a major black artist in the era of Obama. It sounds like disapproval for another era – that of the actor popularly known as Sleep ’n Eat, Willie Best’s character of the 1930s.
“I feel like Tyler Perry’s films are bad for your brain,” said Touré, TV host and cultural critic. “They promote a sort of victimhood: it is good and comfortable and okay to be a victim, especially in [the movie] ‘For Colored Girls,’ [featuring women] who are getting beat down by life in various ways and then at the end, they hug. They make no material change. They don’t get rid of the villains in their life. They don’t make attempts to move upward. They just hug. It’s victim Adult Videos. I don’t think it’s positive to tell black people it’s okay to be victims.”
We rarely hear much from Tyler Perry when he is being slammed by critics for his cinematic and small screen work that is constantly described as being overly dramatic with one-dimensional characters that embody racial stereotypes. That is until recently when he reached his breaking point and basically told his critics, namely Spike Lee, where they could take a flying leap to.
On Tuesday during a Beverly Hills press conference for the West Coast premiere of his new film, Madea’s Big Happy Family, Perry said point blank that he is “sick of hearing” about Spike Lee, according to Box Office magazine.
“Spike can go straight to hell! I am sick of him talking about me, I am sick of him saying, ‘this is coon, this is a buffoon…’”
Perry is referring to a 2009 interview that Lee did with Ed Gordon, former host of Our World with Black Enterprise. During the interview, Lee explained that “each artist should be allowed to pursue their artistic endeavors,” and although Perry’s film and television work has made “a lot of money and [is] breaking records,” Lee still believes much of the content geared towards African-Americans is “coonery and buffoonery.”
Perry tries not to dwell on negativity, he says, but still gets frustrated with the criticism he receives from within his own community. “I don’t even understand it [but] this is where the whole Spike Lee [comment] comes from—the negativity, this is Stepin Fetchit, this is coonery, this is buffoonery…’”
The filmmaker admitted in a 2010 interview with CBS’ 60 Minutes that he is completely baffled when he receives criticism from fellow African-Americans when he doesn’t see other groups receiving similar criticism from their respective communities.
“I’ve never seen Jewish people attack Seinfeld and say, ‘this is a stereotype,’ I’ve never seen Italian people attack The Sopranos, I’ve never seen Jewish people complaining about Mrs. Doubtfire or Dustin Hoffman in Tootsie.’ It’s always black people,” he said.
Whether you are a fan of his work or not, it can’t be denied that the man is making moves in Hollywood. His work may not amount to Spike Lee or John Singleton, but Perry does have a valid argument that the ‘crabs in a bucket’ syndrome continues to plague the black community unlike other racial and ethnic communities.
by R. Asmerom
Can we respect the filmmaker for his business savvy, without paying mind to his sub-par artistic skills?
In his column for AOL Black Voices, Dr. Boyce Watkins recently brought up the persistent issue of Tyler Perry’s worth to the black arts scene. “Do Tyler’s films, which possess a somewhat predictable recipe involving the church, black women, a man in a dress and muscle-bound men with sweaty bodies represent the good, the bad or the ugly of the African-American community?” he asked. “Some, like Spike Lee, have gone hard on Tyler, saying that he presents the kind of minstrel show that racists in America are always willing to pay money to see.”
It’s obvious to most that Tyler Perry films’ don’t necessarily evoke quality – even The New York Times subtly avoids doing full on reviews of his work; but, they are undeniably popular. Very very popular. And Perry is confident. Very very confident. So confident that he’s managed to withstand the overwhelming negative criticism of his work as a filmmaker, continue to churn out cringe-inducing dialogue and unrealistic plot lines and build a lucrative media empire in the process.
So what is it that Perry can teach us? Not the art of film-making certainly but his career does shed light on the power of confidence in business. Like Kanye West, Perry lacks self-doubt and that signifies his empowerment. “Doubt can be a great barrier to business success,” said Dr. Mark L. Frigo , director of the Center for Strategy, Execution and Valuation in the Kellstadt Graduate School of Business at DePaul University. “It’s like trying to drive your car with the parking brake on. Doubt results in inaction [and] hesitation. Doubt is the enemy of success.”
When Spike Lee criticized Perry for producing “coonery and buffonery,” he implied that Perry purposely exploit blacks for his own gain. I think there are many other artists who are more worthy of that accusation. It would be safe to say that Perry actually believes in his work and his righteous mission and is, in essence, a good salesman. He believes in his product and the marketplace continues to support his inventiveness.
Psychologist Gayle A. Davis attributes Perry’s success to his “doer” nature. “Present thinking people are “doers” who think from a present orientation and focus there every action on staying in the moment and attending to the details of what they are doing and why,” she said. “Dreamers mainly operate from a future thinking position and opt to spend a lot of time playing “what if” and “how about” rather than taking action.” This, in part, explains his prolificity.
In any case, Tyler Perry will continue to trigger conversations about blaxploitation, business, and art for many years to come. While it’s not appropriate to respect all entertainers and businessmen for “doing it” because they are making money, it’s not fair to lump Perry with other public figures who set out to be walking hypocrites. Perry does set out to make “uplifting” films and although he has a far way to go with pleasing his many critics, he is a testament to the power of confidence and action.