Everyone else on twitter has commented on Tyler Perry, I may as well also.| Dr. Boyce Watkins: “Are Tyler Perry Films Bad for Black America? No, They Are Not” – The original article, which I commented on at the time on the original site, has since been removed, but my response is as follows:
I can understand somewhat Spike’s (and other folks) point, but the things that he accuses Tyler of, is the reason why I could never watch School Daze. “Wannabe’s” and “Jiggaboo’s”?? The terminology itself is repulsive to me. I understand he was using that to make a point, but the same principle applies.
The Madea character actually reminds me of my late Aunt. She was large, fierce, feisty and loud, quoted bible scriptures (correctly), had a sharp tongue that could shred you to pieces, but a big heart that loved everyone. She often fed homeless and down on their luck folks. I don’t think I’m the only person who knows a Madea, and it makes me wonder is what the real issue is: is it a poor description/representation of black life, or an embarrassing portrait of truth?
Tyler got his start with black plays. Black entertainment for black people. Now that the world is watching, some want to silence him. I have mixed feelings about it. I want black folks to be viewed positively and I know that the behavior of one tends to be applied to all, but blacks, like whites, are a diverse community. Whites have their trailer park, “dumb and dumber” characterizations, as well as positive or ordinary roles. In order for us to be accepted as just like everyone we need to have diverse images as well. If we want to be judged individually, instead of collectively, we need to stop acting like a single black image or movie or action represents the collective. Put out a counter-image. I do realize “the world” still judges blacks and other minorities collectively, and I’m not totally open minded myself: I draw the line at the “hot ghetto mess” crap that BET was trying to put on the air at one time. However, in order to diversify our image, we actually have to start to diversify our image. We need an abundance of positive images to counteract the negative, so that we are not limited only to images that portray us in an unfavorable light. In real life, we have to accept people for their true selves: some are ghetto, some are high class, most are in-between. Their accomplishments, or lack thereof, do not diminish or add to my stature. I believe we gain personal freedom the more we come to realize this.
I often wonder if Tyler is going to have a Dave Chappelle moment where he walks away because he realizes that the world is laughing AT him, not with him. Regardless, he is giving jobs and exposure to blacks in an industry that is known to be hostile to us. In the past, blacks could only get roles as maids in the movies. Let him get a foot in the door, so he can drag others in with him, and then change the landscape. He’s only been at this (nation wide films, studio etc) for a few years. He has good mentors, like Oprah. I think eventually he will do very well and give even the naysayers something to be “proud” about.