So you have a college education from the North. You’re no longer Christian – hell you don’t even believe in God – and you think that prayer is for the faint-hearted. You’ve dined with the pretty and the handsome – the bold and the beautiful – and have wholeheartedly embraced the liberal rhetoric – the why this’ and the why that’s. You’ve pretty much jumped ship, perhaps, right unto that bandwagon that seem to preach that racism ended in 66’. Well, good for you.
You don’t think a big black man dressing up as a big black grandma is funny. Nor that, she teaches you any good lessons. Why? Because you took a couple of classes in film – hell you even went to film school – and you learned all about black film aesthetics, the mammy, and all that. Your professor also probably told you that Sweet Sweetback’s Badasssss Song (how many sssss?) was a great movie and thence you learned about Blaxploitation and all that history about the LA Rebellion Black Film movement. Well, isn’t that great?
But what has all that got to do with Mister Tyler Perry? You follow the news, you read everything about Mister Spike Lee (great filmmaker by the way) but you follow Tyler Perry even more fervently. Why? You don’t like his so-called coonery and buffoonery.
You’ll pay to watch Killer Of Sheep in the theaters and you will die to have Miracle At Saint Anna make shit loads of money at the box office. You look forward to the day that Precious can hold its own without Oprah and Tyler Perry. And lest I forget, you’d probably be Jumping The Broom ahead of yourself before ever getting Married Too.
Well, here’s the thing. Bashing Tyler Perry every second of your life does not make you smart. Just because Mister Spike Lee says something (I believe out of frustration to which he must deeply apologize for) doesn’t mean it’s correct and that you should say it too. It doesn’t even make it seem like you understand the bigger picture of what is going on in black cinema (if there’s any such category). Oh, I forgot, you went to college and you’re in the deconstructionist’s camp with Mister Stuart Hall, huffing and puffing, ‘what the hell does black cinema mean anyway?’
I know. It probably means nothing to you and that’s why you shouldn’t even be talking about Tyler Perry anyway. Here it is.
I stayed with who we are, and what I wish I could get us to understand as a people is that instead of getting your education and running from us, you need to ground and root yourself in who we are. Every other culture in this country knows the value of us as black people but we don’t know it ourselves. -Tyler Perry
All I know is that Mister Tyler Perry is an invaluable personality in our community. His contribution to who we are as a people is outstripping the contribution of a whole generation today. So instead of standing up and adding yours – contributing your quota – to this defining moment in acknowledging who we are as a people, where we have come from, and how far we’ve come – so that Mister Tyler Perry’s is not the only black cultural rhetoric on screen – you’d rather expend energy tough-talking, name-calling, and chest-puffing. Why?
I’m so sick of hearing about damn Spike Lee. Spike can go straight to hell! You can print that. I am sick of him talking about me, I am sick of him saying, ‘This is a coon, this is a buffoon.’ I am sick of him talking about black people going to see movies…. Spike needs to shut the hell up!
Almost every black film critic I know out there blows a condescending trumpet whenever the name Tyler Perry pops up. Why?
Somebody said to me about the ‘House of Payne,’ ‘Why do you have fat black people on television?’ Because there are fat black people in the world. It’s not a stereotype. This is who we are, we need to stop running from our parents and our grandparents and our uncles, we need to stop running from them and embrace them.
I know you went to college; you don’t pray before your meals and you hate to be called to responsibility when it comes to matters involving black people; you adore your carefree living and you like sipping on that wine and chipping at the cheese, which is probably why you think the world should revolve around you.
Only you forget that some of us love where we come from. We love the people who raised us; we adore our grandmas, grandpas, mothers, aunties and such – they can be slim, tall, short, lanky, loud and gaddamn fat! We love them equally and we do find their jokes quite funny!
This man never apologized for who we were…The ultimate pride is where you don’t have to bend and adjust for others to accept you. … He didn’t go mainstream, he brought mainstream to us.
So in Rev. Al Sharpton’s words, Mister Tyler Perry’s fans are not trying to apologize to nobody for who they are. They are not calling some of the movies you watch and seem to call seminal work, for example, Killer Of Sheep, boring? Hell, your long admired emancipation orgasms in Sweet Sweetback’s Badasssss Song don’t bother them one bit. So why should you be bothered by Mister Tyler Perry’s work?
The fact is, Mister Tyler Perry is Forbes highest-paid man in entertainment with $130 million earned between May 2010 and May 2011. So he’s obviously not screwing his way through the Red Sea and certainly doesn’t believe that fucking will ever free black people (Mister Lerone Bennett, 1971).
Finally, it is mischievous and reactionary for anyone to suggest that Mister Tyler Perry’s work, produced for and consumed mainly by black audiences, is actually destructive for the African American community. Alas, what nonsense! That, his movies are cinematic malt liquor? Please, stop being a crab!
Hence the bashing must stop. You may have seen better movies, perhaps, but Mister Tyler Perry and his fans are sure not slowing down because you happen to have developed a taste bud for wine and cheese and think his films, a less appetizing cornbread. And if you would only care to listen to the other side, you’d realize that your nonsensical bickering – against a man that so many black people have come to be so proud of – is really what is killing black people and our dear African American community. We need him but we don’t need you. That’s the truth. But, I thought you knew that.