The Banned List: Tyler Perry
Let me first start out by saying that Tyler Perry once had my attention. I was a strong supporter of his cause and all his works. Although I wasn’t there as a supporter for him since day one I was, however, there before all the glitz and glamour of Hollywood, TBS, and The OWN Network called his name.
If I recall correctly, Diary of a Mad Black Woman (the play) was my first encounter with Mr Perry. I remember watching it on DVD and thinking how good it was. A little raw in it’s delivery, but still…it was good.
The way he connected with his audience (mainly African American) with his themes of God, church, love, betrayal, and relationships was something that drew me in. I was not the only person drawn to his brand of entertainment. Most everyone I knew was on board with all that he was producing. Church groups and non church groups alike were flocking to auditoriums to see, hear, and feel everything that his works had to offer. Why?…because we felt like we could relate to his themes.
You ever been in a bad relationship?…..Yup. Have you ever been betrayed by someone you trust?…..Oh most definitely. You have some crazy relatives?….Man yeah, I’m looking at one right now. You ever get yourself into something that you feel like no one can help you but God?….Without a doubt. That’s why so many people would follow him. That’s why so many people would support him. Every time a person sat in a auditorium chair, placed one of his DVD’s into a player at their home, or watched one of his television shows, they saw a part of them or a part of their life being acted out before their eyes.
Every so often, I would see a new play or a new work of his, most of which I liked. His plays Diary of a Mad Black Woman, Madea’s Family Reunion, and Why Did I Get Married? were all ones that I enjoyed. It’s when he got to Madea’s Class Reunion and Meet the Browns that I became weary of the Madea character and her spin offs like Mr. Brown.
When it came to his movies I was a huge supporter, because I felt like he had made progress with each new edition to his ever growing collection. Diary of a Mad Black Woman, along with Why Did I Get Married, Daddy’s Little Girls, and The Family That Preys were all movies that I enjoyed watching. The latter two I feel like are two of his best by far.
With each of these movies Mr Perry showed what it was like to make a good movie that just happened to be staring a predominantly black cast. Not only did the black community notice, but so did main stream America. As his list of movies began to grow, so did the big names that started to headline each film. From Janet Jackson in Why Did I Get Married to Alfre Woodard and Kathy Bates in The Family That Preys.
It’s when he released films like Meet The Browns, Why Did I Get Married Too, Madea Goes To Jail, and the horrendous I Can Do Bad All By Myself that Mr Perry completely lost me. All of these movies progressively got worse. From thin plot lines to outright dumb and stereotypical characters, his movies seemed to get more watered down with each new production. To make up for the thin plot lines and outright dumb characters, he would add big named actors and actresses to the cast. From The Rock in Why Did I Get Married Too to Mary J. Blige in I Can Do Bad… This tactic was not to add to the luster of each film, but to entice folk to spend their hard earned dollars on trash.
Then there was the TV show Meet The Browns….why? You know what? I’m not even gonna go into it. Doesn’t even deserve my time.
Now the question of the hour is: “Mel, do you hate Tyler Perry?” The answer to that is an emphatic NO. I don’t hate him or any other man or woman for the things they do. What I do hate, or have a strong dislike for, is when people who have the means and ability to provide a product to people and use that ability to put out a mediocre product.
Let’s be real here. It’s getting more and more expensive to go to the movies now a days, and cable service gets more outrageous in price with the passing of every minute. So, when I spend my hard earned money on a movie or to upgrade my cable service, I expect to be entertained the entire time I am in the theater or watching your show from my couch. Period.
Another point I need to make is the more obvious one. Tyler Perry is a successful black man in America. When you are a black male in the forefront of American culture, you are under the most magnified of microscopes. That microscope is intense because there are very few men of color in his position. So, the few that do have the means to release a product to the masses have a responsibility to make that product great. Not good, but great.
I just don’t feel like Mr Perry has done that. Again, these are MY opinions. When I see movies with predominantly black casts like The Last Fall or Think Like A Man, I compare them to the terrible movies that Mr Perry released such as Meet The Browns and Why Did I Get Married Too?
The Last Fall was far and away, a better movie centered around sports than Meet The Browns. MTB was just dumb, and I feel like the acting expertise of Angela Bassett was wasted on a poor story and poor direction. Ironically, both films star Lance Gross as a lead character. His skill set is better served as a struggling football player than as a teen striving to make it to the “League.” (They couldn’t even use NBA in the film because at the point the film was released, the NBA had done away with high schoolers entering their league…HUGE plot hole!). Check out the review I did on The Last Fall here.
I’ve had various comments about Mr Perry and his work when I’ve gone to the theaters. I remember sitting in the theater while watching Think Like A Man, and thinking “this is the Tyler Perry movie that Tyler Perry should have made.” Why does Taraji P Henson always have to be that hood chick? Oh, and Why Did I Get Married Too?…c’mon y’all, that movie shouldn’t have been made…period, and the Rock? That was just a way to sneak another famous person in the film to have more people go see it and earn more ticket sales.
I am not the only person that takes issue with Mr Perry and his work. A gentleman by the name of Aaron McGruder, the creator of a popular TV series known as The Boondocks, has negative feelings about TP as well. This show is popular because of it’s hardcore honesty and the use of cartoons to express a deeper, broader message. Some of the people he focused his attention on were Condeleezza Rice, Oprah Winfrey, R Kelly, and ya boy Tyler Perry.
One of his more popular episodes aired during season 3. It highlighted what many thought about TP at this time. That he used God and Jesus to draw the black community in to support his work while, most likely living a lifestyle contrary to what he was promoting. I don’t know what Mr Perry does behind closed doors. Quite frankly, that’s his business, and his alone. My biggest concern is that he used religion to bring people in to support his inferior product.
Below are a couple of excerpts from the cartoon. They illustrate Aaron’s views on Tyler Perry and his approach to movie making. You may not agree with what you see, but I think it’s hilarious.
Now, through the majority of this article I’ve pretty much bashed TP and most of his work. That’s not to say that it can’t or hasn’t improved over the years. In all honesty, the last TP movie I went to see was Good Deeds. The only reason I went to go see it is because my gorgeous wife (lone wifey shout out of the post. Love you babe!) made me go. It actually wasn’t that bad.
If he continues to make movies like that, I may consider lifting my ban on a gradual scale. Starting with watching one on Netflix or Redbox. Hey, you gotta earn my trust when we are talkin’ bout me spending money on you. I’ve heard from various sources that his last film Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor was good. This could be a Redbox rental, but since I already know the plot, I may just wait til it comes on TV (as I chuckle to myself).
Madea, however, will continue to be banned. I understand that Madea is his cash cow, and he is gonna milk her until the milk runs dry, but I just don’t want to see another movie with her in it. I have better things to spend my money on.
In closing I would like to say that I have a great deal of respect for Tyler Perry. He has worked really hard to get to where he is. I will not judge him by his work ethic or what he does in his free time. What I will judge him on is his work that he is selling to the public. As long as it is poor in quality I will continue to be a “hater.”
Do good work, and you will hear good things.
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