MadameNoire Featured Video

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.

Comment Disclaimer: Comments that contain profane or derogatory language, video links or exceed 200 words will require approval by a moderator before appearing in the comment section. XOXO-MN