We Owe Tyler Perry An Apology

Onyx Contributor:  H.T. (@517NightHawk), Podcast:  Lansing Anti-Hero

Over the last few years, despite years of doing so much for the black film industry and giving so many jobs to black people in front of and behind the camera, Tyler Perry has come to be viewed as a bit problematic, to say the least.  But WHY this happened is honestly bullshit if we’re keeping it 100.  Truth is, the only reason so many of us turned on Tyler Perry is because so-called “woke” directors called him out for making coonish portrayals of black people.  But let’s be honest, if you’re African-American and your family has existed in America since slavery, you have family members like the ones shown in Tyler’s films.  But in the age of wokeness and not being a slave to respectability politics, Perry’s films are a problem.  Or this is at least what two of his biggest peers have to say.

I have no ill will towards Gary Hardwick.  In fact, I’m friends with his nephew-in-law.  But from observation, I think Gary’s frustration with Tyler is that Hardwick is hard at making quality entertainment for black people that is actually good, but Tyler has made an empire off selling black entertainment to people who frankly aren’t the most progressive group of black people period.  Spike Lee on the other hand grew to hate Tyler because by the time Perry came into the industry with “Diary of a Mad Black Woman” he probably felt like the industry gave a platform to a movie like that just to spite him for the message he was trying to convey with the underrated film “Bamboozled” five years prior.

Fact is, as much as we love and want directors to make movies for and about black people, a lot of black people refuse to admit that there is an inherent bias against certain types of blackness being portrayed.  Fact is, people love black movies that portray black people as professionals and successful, but only want to see the hood black folks and the rural southern black folks in contrast to the professionals.  Fact is, when Tyler inversed it all and dared to show the white collar buppies of the world as not a gift from God, y’all got mad.

What can’t be denied just off clear observation is that a great deal of why so many of y’all hate Tyler in the midst of this “Oscars so white” controversy is because Tyler just in his success is an affront to the fact that the people complaining that the Oscars don’t care about black people are only mad because at the end of the day, we KNOW that the Oscars have types of movies that tend to win awards, but the complaint is that we don’t get enough recognition for art that culturally they can’t understand.  Hence why “Moonlight” won.  As far as I’ve been told, I’ve heard nothing but good reviews of it, so I’ll take people’s word for it.  But the simple fact is, the black movie that wins out is basically Oscar bait with black people.

The hate for Tyler comes from the fact that he hasn’t buckled and tried to make movies or TV shows that HIS audience wouldn’t be into.  Perry gives opportunity after opportunity, and aside from warranted criticisms of his films, Tyler only gets called a coon because he isn’t making movies for the woke, militant afrocentric black hipster crowd.  No, Tyler makes films for their parents; and to them thats a problem.  But the fact is Tyler puts in the work for black people but doesn’t do it to stay on the good side of the For Harriet’s and HuffPost Black voices of the world.  He does it because he needs to and does what wants and needs to do regardless of how he’s viewed DESPITE doing the right thing.

So admit it, you all hate Tyler Perry because he’s not making the latest millennial coming of age story about the young, carefree and sexually liberated.  He’s making what HIS audience wants, and you’re just mad.

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