While Perry and Lee have since settled their public debates over the merits of Perry’s past work, “Who’s Talking to Chris Wallace?” host Chris Wallace asked Perry about his initial response to Lee’s criticisms. The “Jazzman’s Blues” writer/director noted he’s “heard it all” before saying, “There’s a certain part of our society, especially Black people in the culture, that they look down on certain things within the culture” (via People).
“For me, I love the movies that I’ve done because they are the people that I grew up with that I represent,” Perry continued. “Like, my mother would take me in the projects with her on the weekends. She’d play cards with these women. Most of them didn’t have a 12th-grade education, but their stories and how much they loved each other and how when they’d get sad about something another would come in and make a joke. I’m 5 years old on the floor with my Matchbox cards. I was in a masterclass for my life.”
Perry added, “So when someone says, ‘You’re harkening back to a point of our life that we don’t want to talk about it or we don’t want the world to see,’ you’re dismissing the stories of millions and millions of Black people. That’s why I think it’s been so successful because it resonates with a lot of us who know these women in these experiences and Uncle Joe and so on and so forth. But what is important to me is that I’m honoring the people that came up and taught and made me who I am. Their stories deserve to be told too.”
Perry also recently said that poor reviews from the “Madea” movies made greenlighting his “Jazzman’s Blues” epic more difficult.
Academy Award winner Lee previously called Perry’s work “buffoonery” and said that, while the “Madea” franchise has made a lot of money and broke records, “we could do better.”
“A lot of this is on us. You vote with your pocketbook, your wallet, your time,” Lee said of Perry’s fandom. “The man has a huge audience, and he’s very smart with what he’s done. At the same time, for me, just imagery is troubling.”
In 2011, Perry told the Wall Street Journal that he has tuned out Lee’s comments on his work.
“I’m so sick of hearing about damn Spike Lee,” Perry said at the time. “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 — he talked about Whoopi [Goldberg], he talked about Oprah, he talked about me, he talked about Clint Eastwood. Spike needs to shut the hell up!”
Earlier this year, Perry said in June 2022 that while Lee was “very vocal about my work,” Lee’s legendary film career made Perry’s possible. Perry ultimately named one of his sound stages after the “BlacKKKlansman” director.
“I honored him because I don’t care what he said, how can I ignore his contributions,” Perry said at the time. “Had he not done what he did, I wouldn’t be here.”
Lee wrote on Instagram to Perry after the honor, “God Bless And Keep Keepin’ On Doin’ God’s Work.”