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S & A Flashback – Why Do They Love Him So?

S & A Flashback - Why Do They Love Him So?

Well another Tyler Perry movie is out and there will be, of course,  his usual supporters and naysayers arguing over the merits or lack thereof of his movies (And for the record let me say that I think he's a bad filmmaker. But I think Michael Bay is too, but no one will jump on me for saying that.) Yet I can't think of another filmmaker who creates more talk or controversy than TP.

Not Lars Von Trier. Not Eli Roth. And not even Tom Six. Nobody gets people more riled up than Tyler.

Then again he has his die hard supporters who get equally riled up when someone dares to even say even the slightest negative syllable about him. For those people Tyler can literally walk on water. But exactly two and half years ago on S & A (time flies doesn't it?) I posed the question about why his supporters were so do-or-die for him.

Spike Lee makes a bad movie, very few will rush to his defense. But say Perry's latest film isn't good and they want to burn your house down.

As I said in that earlier article, many people have a very intense devotion to Perry. They "love him firecely no matter what and are blind to his faults. Yeah I know he hires black people and makes a lot of money…)

Well practically every black filmmaker hires black people, in front of and behind the camera, too. I don't know of single one who doesn't. But they don't get any praise for it like Perry. Why does he get all the credit? 

And as for making a lot of money, so does Aliko Dangote, but I've never heard anyone even once praising him. Who's Dangote you ask? He's the currently richest black person on the planet worth somewhere close to $15 billion and you think that people would be talking all the time about him and all the money he's making. But nope.

But as I stated in my earlier piece I suspect that there's something else going on here. And it's not just about his movies and that's because he's "one of us".

As I elaborated:  "by that I mean he's just regular folks. He's not particulary artistic or gifted in any way, but he's a success inspite of himself and his background. Everybody knows his story. Grew up poor, abused as a kid, lived in car for while, started off doing plays, worked hard and hustled despite everyone telling him he couldn't do it. You know "one of us'.

I have a feeling that a lot of people look at him and say to themsleves that maybe if I had better parents, maybe if my father was around, maybe if if I had just a little bit of luck, maybe if I hadn't hung around those losers for so long, maybe if I had stayed away from drugs, maybe if I had studied instead of spending most of the time staying out of school, maybe if I didn't believe those people when they told me that I wouldn't amount to anything, maybe if I had just believed in myself, then maybe I would be where Perry is right now.

So in effect when people get defensive about him and get upset with his critics when they go after him they are, in effect, saying that they are attacking them and their hopes and dreams. But that doesn't mean that the criticisms against him will stop anytime.

However I also said that I suspected "that if he was a brillant director from the outset, a star film student at NYU or UCLA, winning acclaim at the Cannes Film Festival or Sundance for his first film, on the cover of Sight and Sound, Film Comment and Empire, someone who just razzled and dazzled you with every new film like Quentin Taratnino or Martin Scorsese, I suspect that a lot of black people would respect him, but not necessarily love him. And there wouldn't be such an intense defense of him every time somebody critized him.  In other words, he wouldn't be one of us anymore. Instead he's somebody special, extraordinary and brilliant and that we couldn't relate to."

Well that's the only theory I could come up with. But if you've got a better one, let's hear it.

This Article is related to: Features


Comments

Vaughn Turner

It's the throw back to a time where no matter what Family was everything. It was'nt perfect (no such thing) but it defined who we were as a people. The way that most of his productions cling to that ideal in my opinion, is what we are trying to protect, the image of family which is no longer valued as it was tweentyfive or thirty years ago. Noone is saying that he the best or cares if he's the richest, just that his thoughts speak to ours on a human level. Truth is the everyday black America, todays grandparents connect with what he writes it is who we are and where we came from with just enough realism to give us hope without a lot of complication. Noone has to die or be stuck where they are for ever no horible crashes no overly exsplicit sex scences this is what we want, this is what we defend.

c collings

Sensible people love him and accept his work because he fhas illed many voids. Void(1) using black actors/actresses (2) depicting the lifestyles of a good percentage – not 100% – of black life (3) presenting films that made us escape, through belly laughs some of the uncalled for hate directed at us, and (4) allowing some of the massive profits to return to a black person/conglomerate. How about that as a reason for loving him? Whether or not you love him or his work, the criticism does not have to get personal.

Jeff N.

I pursue quality: projects, entertainment, art. Perry is the antithesis of quality. Didn't his latest film have the second-worst opening of his career? Just goes to show you:

No "Good Deeds" go unpunished.

@jefflately

Adam Scott Thompson

The Prime Minister of Coonistan.

Traci R.

Yeah I think I like Tyler Perry's life narrative much more than I actually like him (his public persona) and his art (filmmaking at least, his plays I dig shamelessly). I also take the side of Laura on the notion of calling his work "coonery." Quite honestly, I've never understood how that term ever applies to describing black humor for a predominantly BLACK audience.

I think this concept of shame and humor has quite the complicated history in black entertainment on both the production and reception side of the equation. Many are ASHAMED of what we as black folk find funny because its so "VULGAR" and "LOW BROW." Eff that. I quite admire fanatical TP followers whose logic about why they like him steers far away from the intellectual pontification that "critical" film watchers give to describe and defend their film choices (i.e. present a case that shows that their tastes are less shame-inducing than the taste of others). It's called taste for a reason–my flavor ain't always your flavor–and I'm not about to sit up here and defend why I like salty and not sweet.

Rane

OMG! Just heard TP's doing a remake of Notes on a Scandal with Niki Minaj in the Cate Blanchett role and Medea in Judi Dench's… of course he'll direct and do the re-write… Actually what annoys me is that by TP releasing two films a year, he's hogging the middle- seems like the North America market only has room for his crap and fun stuff like Precious and Pariah.

Derrick

F Tyler Perry!!

Joe

In an anti-Black/anti-African fashion, sound analysis and critique of Tyler Perry(or any of the big black folks like Oprah & Obama and even when done lovingly) is seen as idiocy and hatin'.

al

S & A needs to send Tyler Perry a check.

Laura

Only an idiot would disagree with Tyler Perry being the greatest filmmaker working today. He is our Orson Welles.

Mark & Darla

It amazed me yesterday across internet blogs, it same that every critic woke up at the crack of dawn, ran out the door, straight to the nearest theater showing 'Good Deeds', ran back to their blog site to gave their negative revive, all before 12 noon eastern time. There sure are a lot of people uptight about Tyler Perry. Relax people, see nothing happen the world did not come to an end because another TP movie came to the theater.

Nadine

Interesting theory, Sergio. Spike took the film school route through to his Masters (NYU), but was always an outsider – a kind of pulling oneself up by the bootstraps kind of person which, I think, could be another way of framing Perry's experiences. They can both find a connection in that, but yeah, I think you're on to something. There is also this "Chuch" thing, never deserting he who is at the pulpit. Perry has become, almost, a Creflo Dollar, Eddie Long, megachurch leader type with a forgiving and protective flock. All I know is this dude just pissed me off on Chelsea Handler, and it almost seems as if he is going the "wider audience" route. Straying away from his Black female fanbase (of which I was not a member) for more commercial success on their backs (based on his statements in the CH interview and his recent choices as an ACTOR. Alex Cross, whose wife, though deceased is being played by Carmen Ejogo. This is classic Hollywood. Same old formula. He's looking to become another peg claiming to have no authority over decisions made in Hollywood even after claiming to KNOW the issues.

Sigh

Dr. MLK, I know you are rolling around in that grave of yours and asking, was it worth it?

Nadine

I pretty much stay away from TP posts, but I can't back down from my love of Steve McQueen when some, or shall I say, the successful Black males in Hollywood can have conversations with non-Blacks, supposedly schooling them on Black people and the ever-so-trendy "what Black women are thinking" or "what wrong with Black women". Tyler Perry on Chelsea Handler is why these cats, honestly, need a meteor to strike them where they stand http://bossip.com/547956/tyler-perry-goes-on-chelsea-handler-talks-kim-kardashian-role-and-black-women-hating-him-for-it-and-more-video69691/. I don't give a hoot about Kim K, but I guess it his duty to tell CH, a whore, that BW don't want KK, a whore, in their movies or for him to marry "a CH", I guess because she's White, because BW are the problem… this is your dude folks.

Lucas

Serigio get off of Tyler's dick!

Laura

d) CONT. I considered coon work stereotypes that white folks make about us that we perform. I see Tyler Perry work steep a certain kind of American Black humor, not white humor about Black folks. And personally I don't care what white folks think about us (all these comment about TP making us look bad etc. is about the white gaze). If white folks ain't gonna like you they ain't gonna like and it ain't nothing you can do about it. If you don't beleive me go ask the President. e) TP have a national reach and in many parts of the country where Black folks live it aint much arts and entertainment out there. There are a lot of sports and its a form of family entertainment. But creative arts. No. I have lived out in the boonies in various part of the country. Let me tell you. It ain't nothing out there. f) Please don't assume that people who like TP are some how not cultural or intelligent. I know people with advance degrees who enjoy TP. I personally know Black woman who is a Tyler Perry and a fan of Cindy Sherman -a New York based avant garde photographer. TP fans are not as simple as you think. g) TP movies are pure escapism and a people under various social, economic, cultural and personal assault need some form of escapism to get through the day. TP provides that. And for the record, I don't think TP is a good film maker at all. I think his stories are excruciating but hey my girlfriends seem to love him.

Laura

b) He is a throwback to old chitlin circuit entertainers like Pigmeat Markhan and such. That ain't too many generations ago. Also he does church plays and church plays are viable cultural product with their own set of story telling rules and aesthetics -I think that's why one of the reasons why is films are badly put together because he adheres to rules storytelling via church plays. c)He represent the American dream for Black folks. d) Tyler Perry films present certain cultural tropes and memes in southern based Black American culture that are absent from mainstream American culture. That is why I refuse to call Tyler Perry work "coon" work. Can you call his humor low-brow. Yeah But do I consider him a not a good film maker. Yeah.

Laura

Just speaking from my neck of the wood. I think a) Tyler Perrry represent that you can be Black & mediocre and still can be successful. Back in the day you have to be 2X better than white folk to be considered half as good. He blew that theory right out of the water. a) He tapped an underserved market "Black Chuch Wimmin" noticed I put that in quotes because I know a lot of Black women who love Tyler Perry and ain't never step foot a church. However they old school Black women who family members are/were members of a church. TO BE CONT.

other song

Michael Bay is a WAY better filmmaker than TP, and doesn't drag down his race in the process lol. The chase sequence in Bad Boys 2 is better than just about anything TP will ever attempt. Yes Bay makes a lot of crap. But he's at least made coherent, adequate movies that stretch the imagination. The Rock. The Island. What has TP done?

jmac

Sounds like a good theory. When blacks succeed – especially to the extent that whites grudgingly recognize their success – it's usually because they are the cream of the crop or best in their business whether they started out dirt poor and disadvantaged or not. Black mediocre person does great is a rare headline -although it's been increasing as of late. Can't think of a better reason.

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