Perry’s Role In Black Culture
Tyler Perry’s presence in the American entertainment industry has led to the death of black culture. His depiction of black people and his role in defining what it means to be black in today’s American society is disrespectful and downright harmful to the black culture. Not only that, his famous character, Madea, creates a coonish representation of black men and a misrepresentation of what it means to be black. Tyler Perry has single-handedly destroyed black culture.
I have never been a fan of men playing the roles of women. It downgrades the empowerment of women in our culture. Why can a woman not fully represent Madea, a large, black woman with strong family ties and a moral code portrayed through her loud, black personality? It astounds me that more black women do not feel offended. Respectable women like Oprah Winfrey actually support Madea; in 2013, according to oprah.com, Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry struck a deal to become the “singular destination for all new television series and projects, including two new scripted series for the network to premiere in mid 2013. These will be the first original scripted series for OWN and Perry will executive produce, write and direct both series.” This deal along with his many plays and films makes Tyler Perry one of the most successful black men of our generation. How can his success as a black filmmaker also be the worst thing to happen to black culture since Al Sharpton got involved in civil rights?
“…singular destination for all new television series and projects, including two new scripted series for the network to premiere in mid 2013. These will be the first original scripted series for OWN and Perry will executive produce, write and direct both series.”-Oprah.com, on Tyler Perry’s television deal with Oprah.
Tyler Perry’s success comes at a cost; the exploitation of black culture. Perry makes money from a poorly scripted and directed film series that solely targets a black audience. This means that not only does he represent a coonish figure in black culture, coonish referring to the representation of blacks as a big lipped, watermelon eating, loud, slang talking people, but he makes his living off exploiting black culture. He isn’t the first black person to exploit black culture, as black leaders like Herman Cain and Al Sharpton exploit the Afro-centric culture and religious ties blacks have to Christianity. However, he is the first black male to be paid to present his coon-like character Madea to mainstream entertainment and do so consistently with a series of films based around this horrible embodiment of what it “means” to be black. He has killed black culture by creating the idea that black culture is solely founded upon the principles and morals captured by Madea’s personality.
The Christian Way?
The hilarious thing about this situation is Tyler Perry claims to be a devout Christian, yet when attacked by black filmmaker Spike Lee, he replied with “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. This is what he said: ‘you vote by what you see,’ as if black people don’t know what they want to see”. Not the response of a devout christian. I would love to see his reaction if a white person had a similar view on the Madea films. Although Spike Lee is known for being a bit vocal, he is one of the few people who can critique Tyler Perry’s art respectfully. He is a legendary filmmaker and a black male, the acclaimed target audience of Madea. Perry, showing a lack of respect for his peers, attacks him and makes Spike Lee’s words an attack on black culture. Not only has Tyler Perry killed black culture, he has rebuilt Madea to be the image of black culture in America. Tyler Perry is the antichrist, building false idols in the name of black culture.
“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. This is what he said: ‘you vote by what you see,’ as if black people don’t know what they want to see”.
Tyler Perry claims he creates entertainment that appeals to black America. He must be confused between black america and the entertainment industry’s definition of black culture. For decades the film industry has portrayed blacks in many ways, many of them based on stereotypes. Tyler Perry is just as guilty of doing this as Disney was when they had Uncle Remus sing Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah in Song of the South. Mind you, this song was popularized in the pre-civil war era and promoted through minstrel shows.This same backwards way of depicting blacks to the mainstream culture is the same thing Tyler Perry makes money from now. It is degrading to everyone, especially blacks. He creates an identity crisis within blacks who were not raised in this culture that Perry claims all blacks can relate to. Tyler Perry is saying that black culture is Madea; where does that leave blacks who don’t fall in that category? Couldn’t one argue that there are more blacks now who experience life in a whole different way than their ancestors? Couldn’t there be blacks who read H.G. Wells, believe in Atheism, and grew up in area more white than black? Does that make them any less black? Tyler Perry is manipulating our black youth. He is killing the confidence in young black people, the same blacks who will define our future as blacks in America.
The Death of Black Culture
Perry is perpetuating the rift that defines blacks and whites, further developing improper societal views on politics, race, and culture that separate whites and blacks. Perry condones racism, he condones the idea that blacks all love the exact things they are stereotyped to enjoy. When Madea talks about wanting to use up her EBT card, cooks food that is unhealthy and full of cholesterol, is this not telling our children and young generations before them that this is what it means to be black? This is not black culture. This is black on black racism. Instead of perpetuating stereotypes, why does Tyler Perry not create a new identity of the black person in his films and TV shows? Why not challenge the status quo of what it “means” to be black and create a new identity, a new definition of what it means to be black and to grow within a predominantly white culture. As a leader in the black film industry is this not his duty?
If we do not stand our ground against these films, blacks will continue to be comfortable with the reality Perry portrays in his films. Many are ignorant to the effects Perry’s films have on our culture. Have we not fought to achieve more than the just the accepted reality Tyler Perry believes all blacks exist in? This is the same tactic used by white conservatives in Mississippi during the civil rights movement, when they argued that the black man is happy and content where he is. Black leaders like Oprah will say “rap” music is degrading blacks then support Tyler Perry films as they degrade black culture. When will it end? Not until they stop ignoring the truth, not until they see they are more guilty for killing black culture than any rapper, any police beating, any political debate. Tyler Perry is killing blacks psychologically and I for one will not stand for it. What is the point in making progress for black culture if Tyler Perry continues to portray blacks as the exact stereotype we have fought since the civil rights era? What’s the point if half of the black population doesn’t even notice?
There isn’t one.