Help me to understand a few things: Why do so many Black people hate Tyler Perry? Why hate on a man who has given acting jobs to a vast amount of actors? Why is it so wrong for this man to be successful at what he creates? And why is it that Black folks are the most critical when it comes to their own kind? If Tyler Perry doesn’t make movies that appeal to you, that’s your business. Your taste is your taste. However, the man has truly opened doors for many in the Black community and has given jobs to people who were damn near homeless. So therefore, you can best believe that some respect is due.
There have been some of you that have said things like, “Tyler Perry doesn’t set a positive example for the Black community. His movies and plays make Black people look bad and blah, blah, blah.” Oh, really? If you are so-called worried about how Black people are depicted on TV, then you need to be mad a lot of things you see on TV. Just in case you haven’t been paying attention, there are A LOT of issues in the media that makes the Black community look bad such as sagging pants, the high school drop-out rate, Black-on-Black violence, and certain TV shows.
Tyler Perry movies and plays are not the reason that the Black race is in the state that it’s in. So miss me with all of that and spare me the whole Tyler-Perry-Is-A-Sell-Out ridiculous speech. And if you believe that he’s not “keepin’ it real” just because he doesn’t make movies that show Black people being shot up, I suggest that you go schedule an appointment with Dr. Phil so that he can tell you straight to your face that you are an idiot.
I’m sure that some of you are thinking that I must be an employee of Tyler Perry in order for me to be defending him like I am. NOT TRUE. I do not work for him and I’ve never met the man a day in my life. I am simply a woman that believes in giving credit to people who deserves it. Am I fan of Tyler Perry? Yes, I am. Do I like every single thing that he created? No, I don’t. And that’s okay. Just because I’m a fan of his work, doesn’t mean that I have to like every single thing that he creates. There were a few of his creations that I didn’t care for. But nonetheless, the brotha is still a remarkable storyteller and is very business savvy.
Before you decide that you want to stone a hardworking man that had to endure a lot of crap in order to be the success that he is today, take a good look at your own life. What have YOU accomplished? What doors have YOU opened up in the Black community? Are YOU striving to become successful? Or are YOU the one that’s been stuck working at that same dead-end job that you’ve been working at for years, where the employees get ‘Holy Ghost’ happy simply because the boss said that they can wear jeans for a week? If Tyler Perry is a so-called “embarrassment” to Black people everywhere, can you honestly say that YOU are a good influence? (If you need a few minutes to come up with a good answer to that question, don’t worry, I’ll wait).
Just in case you still don’t get it, let me make the message clearer for you: IT IS NOT TYLER PERRY’S RESPONSIBILITY TO MAKE BLACK PEOPLE HAPPY!!! And why? Because it is downright impossible to do so. And since I am Black, I have every right to say that because honestly, we are truly some complicated individuals. Although we are very unique and amazing in a lot of ways, we are definitely a hard race to satisfy. We have a hard time being supportive of each other because most of us have yet to identify and destroy that crabs-in-a-barrel mentality.
If fifty Black people adore Tyler Perry, you can best believe that there will be seventy people that despise him. That’s just how we are as a people. But if you are one of the ones that haven’t had a job since the 90’s and you’re living off of other relatives, you may wanna see if Tyler Perry can hook you up with a job versus being one of his haters.
I’m not trying to force you to like anything that Tyler Perry has made. You have the right to like and dislike what you want. But let that man be who he is. We as a people are so quick to condemn what we don’t understand and ridicule those that are doing way better than us. If memory serves me correctly, the man went from being homeless and sleeping in his car to building an empire off of prayer, hard work, and sweat. So if he’s a bad influence on the Black community, then so are you.
And since I’m on a roll, let me go ahead and make a point about Mr. Spike Lee since I haven’t done so. I’m sure that we have all heard the infamous and rude comments that Spike Lee said about how Tyler Perry makes his movies. Just in case you missed it, let me tell you what went down: About two years ago, Spike Lee basically accused Tyler Perry of making movies that displayed “coonery and buffoonery” and Tyler Perry responded by telling Spike Lee to go to hell.
Although the two men have already squashed their beef, it still left a damaging mark on some of Tyler Perry’s fans. Due to Spike Lee’s venom-filled comments towards Tyler Perry, you had people who used to LOVE Tyler Perry’s work and then all of a sudden, they hated his work and belittled him. So in other words, they ALLOWED Spike Lee’s comments to influence them to not like something that they clearly enjoyed BEFORE Spike Lee expressed his views. And to this day, I still don’t understand that logic. You know doggone well that you, your mama, and your cousins were the main ones buying the tickets to see Tyler Perry’s plays and you’ve waited in long lines to see his movies. But now that Spike Lee had something to say, you wanna walk around with your fist pumped in the air like you’re a part of a Black movement. Honey, please.
To be honest with you, I love Spike Lee as a filmmaker. He’s absolutely amazing. But his comments about Tyler Perry left a bad taste in my mouth because I don’t think that he understood the concept that being a different storyteller doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re a bad one. Spike Lee and Tyler Perry are both amazing filmmakers but they are both very different. They are not the same in the way that they tell a story and they don’t need to be.
We don’t need two Tyler Perrys and we don’t need two Spike Lees. We don’t need two filmmakers creating films about Malcolm X. Respect the variety. If you like a film by Spike Lee, that doesn’t mean that you’re not supposed to like a film by Tyler Perry. You can support BOTH of them and still keep your “Blackness”. That’s why had I lost a little bit of respect for Spike Lee during that time because he didn’t respect the fact that Tyler Perry doesn’t need to do movies the same way that he does them. If he did that, everyone would accuse Tyler Perry of being a rip-off of Spike Lee.
What was unfortunate about this situation was the fact that Spike Lee couldn’t see past his disgust to see that if him and Tyler Perry was to have created a movie TOGETHER, it would’ve been a monumental box office hit because of the talent that they both possess. What was also confusing about this situation was that Spike Lee not only felt the need to hate on someone from his own profession, but from his own kind. That had me scratching my head for a while considering the fact that Spike Lee is known for standing up for the Black human race and making films such as School Daze, Get On The Bus, and Malcolm X to show not only our history but how far we’ve come. He encourages us to be proud of who we are and to become a movement in this world but yet, when one of our own becomes successful, he slams him in the media. Hmmm.
My point is this: Whether you like Tyler Perry or not, you have to admit that he is doing a lot better than Mr. Thug Passion who don’t do anything but stand on the corner and scope out who he can rob. So would you have rather seen Tyler Perry turned out to be another brotha throwing his life away, just so that everyone would believe that he’s a “real” brotha?
Copyright © 2013 by Sonica Jackson
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