Over the past decade, it’s safe to say that there has been a whole lot of shifting going on with Black Hollywood. I remember watching the 90’s rebirth of black sitcoms and the silver-screen seemed to be LOADED with hip hop classics like, “Juice” and “Belly” premiering. The 90’s was a further ground breaking time for black actors, directors, and productions teams. Both Spike Lee and John Singleton openly showed the world their artistic visions. They were at the absolute peek of their astounding careers. I remember loving this era. I loved how black America was representing itself. Everything seemed to be elevated. Everything was original and had this freshness that I just couldn’t get enough of. After the Y2K year hit, things began to change. Technology grew and further evolved how we seen these artistic interpretations. Instead of Black Hollywood growing, everything crept to a near stop. For a few years Black America’s theatrical voice was reduced to the sound of a whisper. More and more of these black sitcoms were getting cancelled. “All of Us”, “My Wife and Kids”, and “Everybody hates Chris” were all phased out. Who was going to take over this slot?
The argument on whether to support Tyler Perry or not is one that is slightly bewildering. I’m straddled on the fence with this one. He has done everything from stage plays, to movies, to sitcoms. I appreciate Tyler Perry because he talks about a lot of ugly truths in his productions. The truth sometimes is like a burn that you underestimated. It looks ugly going through the healing process on the outside. On the inside, it’s a whole different ball game. Under the scab is where the real healing happens. In some of his imagery, Tyler peels back the scab on that burn and forces us to look at how the wound is healing underneath. What kind of story will the war wound have to tell once it is a scar? As a viewer of his work, I appreciate movies like, “Daddy’s little girls”. He took a popular issue and flipped it. Instead of showing you the typical single black mother’s plight “Hollywood style”, he showed how some mother’s pimp the system and can make and honest father’s life a living hell. Let’s be real, it happens every day. Tyler Perry showed us. He also showed us a small piece of the everyday black man’s life in a different aspect.
A lot of people argue that Tyler Perry cooned his way to the top. Watching him bring “Madea” to life for some people is too much. The Madea stage plays was what really catapulted his name into the stars. In the beginning, it didn’t seem like many people had an issue with “Madea”. In fact, popular culture seemed to be fascinated with this character that personified this term of endearment that most of us called the head woman in our family: “Madea” or “Big mama”. When Tyler Perry becomes Madea, I see some parts of my own late grandmother. The rawness, the love, the ratchetness… I see it all. I see what I love and miss about her.
The more the Madea franchise grew, the more people began to feel that the image that this was spreading was way too out of pocket. I can say that I personally identify with a lot of what he’s showing us, does this make me wrong? Over the years Tyler Perry has made Boo-Koo crazy cash off of the Madea franchise. Regardless of what some Opposers thought, the masses loved it. People love the gritty, realness that was delivered. I’ll be honest, I thought that he was just going to stick the Madea-mania fest that he created. Instead of doing the expected, he branched out. He began doing more and more projects without “her”. He has proven to be just as successful without leaning on his main money maker as a crutch. I’m wondering if he will ever retire her completely though. Madea is still popping out movies and even stage plays, just not as frequent as before.
Whether you like him or not, you have to respect his story. Learn from this man’s hustle. Today, Mr. Perry is way BEYOND millionaire status. In the 90’s he was homeless. All he had was a compact car that was ready to be repo’d, no home address, and a vision. It was an amazing vision that he worked diligently to see come to fruition. He has made that vision happen and then some. I hear both sides of the argument. Hell as I said before, i’m straddling the fence on this one myself. Tyler Perry gives a sense of relief to the people that patronizes him. Like an artist, he paints the characters and situations into his productions that we ALL identify with somehow. So what if some of them are stereotypes. Isn’t it true that there is some sort of degree in all stereotypes? It’s not about making yourself look unrealistic or even “God like” It’s about healing. Are we right or wrong to have a problem with Tyler Perry?