Guess what? Tyler Perry is making more money than anyone in Hollywood! According to Forbes, he raked in $130 million last year alone. I am so proud of him. He is truly a talent and he speaks for so many people in the African-American community by telling the stories that have shaped and defined so many of our intrapersonal and interpersonal interactions. His emphasis on family and the foundation on which it should stand – the union between man and woman – is unparalleled.
I know Mr. Perry gets a lot of criticism for dressing up in drag but no one has a problem when Eddie Murphy, Jamie Foxx or Martin does it. Could the bias be in what some people presume about his sexuality? Maybe. But since when did what one does in his or her love life affect the relevance or value of his or her artistic expression?
I find that some black women say, “Tyler Perry isn’t talking about me” whenever he comes out with a stage play or film. Well, if you are one of those women, you are probably lying to yourself. And even if nothing Tyler Perry has ever brought forth speaks to you personally, it will ring true for your mother, grandmother, aunt, sister, cousin, best friend or third grade teacher. Maybe your life is perfect albeit minor quirks, but aren’t the experiences of your loved ones relevant.
I find that even more black men say that Tyler Perry is “cooning” or turning women against them with his “man-bashing” themes. Newsflash: black women have had their eyebrows raised at black men for some time before the world even knew who Tyler Perry was, and before he even was. And for all the black men who can’t relate to the majority of Perry’s characters’ manipulative, abusive, deceitful or simply juvenile ways, why get up in arms? I thought there was such a thing as wearing a shoe only if it fits. If you are a good man who does the right, great. But again, I doubt every man who has played a significant role in your life was as wonderful as you are.
See, Tyler Perry is not trying to make black women look weak or black men look evil. He’s not putting the black community on front street or embarrassing us by putting on a floral dress every other movie. He’s bringing to light taboo subjects that have been silently plaguing our community for years. As I said in an earlier post about black people and mental health care – we as a people don’t like others all in our business.
I suspect we don’t want to give the mainstream any more ammunition against us. It’s as if we think white people are going to theatres to see Perry’s movies and saying “Aha! I knew it!” Au contraire! They are probably laughing and crying right along with us because the situations that ring true for us, ring true for them. It’s called the human experience. It’s about navigating through an oft-unfair life, set in a cruel world that takes perfect, innocent babies and eventually turns them into…a multitude of things.
That being said, it’s no wonder that Tyler Perry is succeeding because with all of his critics, detractors and all-purpose haters, his work is resonating in the minds, hearts and spirits of so many. And while I am no huge fan of his T.V. show Meet the Browns or most of his Madea movies, I will continue to patronize his work. After all, he’s talking to me. How rude would I be not to listen?