Tyler Perry - Who is He?
If you’re white, you probably are wondering who is Tyler Perry? If you’re black, you’re probably wondering why am I asking, and the answer is yes, I know who he is. This will set the tone for this article. Tyler Perry has become a household name in the African-American community in general, and the church-going African-American community in particular. If you’re wondering what does this article have to do with politics - everything! When you’re dealing with a medium (Tyler Perry’s Madea franchise) you’re dealing with; social issues, class,race and politics.
Tyler Perry’s Madea franchise has made him one of the highest paid movie directors in Hollywood (ranked by Forbes as the sixth highest-paid man in Hollywood). However, it’s come at a cost. There are some in the black community, including Spike Lee, who see his work as “coonery” and “buffoonery,” Something of a modern day minstrel show. There is a reoccurring theme in Tyler Perry’s work. It’s message targets the African-American community, has strong ties to the African-American church and family. Tyler Perry has hired blacks in his office, in front of the camera and behind the camera. While he is enjoying enormous commercial success; he has his critics, who feel that this depiction of black pathology only serves to fuel negative imagery and stereotypes of black life.
This is a rare glimpse into the division within the African-American community (which is by no means monolithic) that does not often expose itself to the white community. We (African-Americans) generally don’t like to air our dirty laundry to the greater community and prefer to keep this to ourselves. There are two camps with strong opinions, both pro and con regarding Tyler Perry and his work. He clearly has the support of the working-class, church going segment of the African-American community. The Black Bourgeoisie is another issue. They see Tyler Perry’s work as something of an incarnation of minstrelsy, that we would all like to see forgotten and left in a dark and traumatic past, where it belongs.Continued on the next page