Monday, February 20, 2012

Media Moment,"Tyler Perry: Friend or Foe?"

Tyler Perry: Friend or Foe?

Tyler Perry’s new film “Good Deeds” premieres in theaters this Friday.  Most of his films attract huge audiences which are characterized by his impersonation of a southern Christian woman named Madea.  I respect and admire his ideology but his work not so much.  Perry has been praised by the all mighty Oprah and has been featured in the Black List Volume 3 which lists the most influential African Americans.  For the sake of this post let’s ignore the implications of the black list. (For now) I watched many of his films including “For Colored Girls” which I found to be very condescending. I do think he’s movies are satirical, perpetuate stereotypes and does not promote our culture.  Is this what Black America wants to see?  What’s your take on Tyler Perry? Is he a friend or foe to the black community?


  1. Paulina, I have a split opinion on this issue, but I do have to agree with you on the matter of Tyler Perry monumenting detrimental stereotypes for the African-American community. I've watched one of his films to gain a better understanding of the big hype beyond his success. There is a lot of controversy regarding his work, where the viewers either take the side of harsh critics or fans. One can argue that his films do offer Black actors the jobs that would otherwise be non-existent. However, I can't fully grasp the acceptance of negative sensationalism of the African-American demographic. His films cater to the Black audience, and yes, perhaps provide a form of comic release and pure entertainment. They create an alternate film industry apart from Hollywood. However, I find it leading to a bigger issue that Hollywood still does not provide the same opportunity to African-American actors in major films. Top box-office movies like Inception, or X-Men still feature predominantly white actors. Perhaps, if Hollywood offered a more of a multi-cultural stance to America's audience, then African-American community would be able to have a broader range of entertainment. Hopefully, our generation will live through that change.

  2. Interesting that you brought up Tyler Perry because I've watched several of his movies and I actually enjoyed them. Before taking this Women in the Media class, I've never thought about his movies in your perspective. For me, what drew me to his films were because of the comedy and the inspiration. Even though his movies are funny, it's also inspiring in the sense that they show how the characters are upper middle class and they hold successful jobs for the most part (especially the women). At the same time, it's also a genre for women because of the issues that the female characters go through, and a lot of us can definitely relate our problems to theirs. I do understand your stand point, but I also think it depends what intentions Tyler Perry's had for creating his films. Most comedies are built on stereotypes, not always pertaining to race, but maybe to a specific title or position that one holds (i.e. a jock or a Wall Street business man). You brought up a good topic, I'll see how I feel about his new films now.

  3. In my opinion I think Tyler Perry is in many ways a victim of the idea of "burden of representation" though of course criticism can be made about his films. Tyler Perry in one way represents one side of the spectrum (in terms of Black representation) where as Spike Lee for instance represents another side (inner city communities, poverty, Black struggle) that can be given just as much criticism. As a comedian I think it's almost instinctive to play off the stereotypes yet a media figure he has opened the door for a lot of Black actors to have a much wider platform in the entertainment industry. His films premier all over the world and not straight to DVD. Though in regards to perpetuating stereotypes I think that is still up to debate. Again we have a Black individual presenting these ideas, not Steven Spilberg. I myself as a person of color do not get offended when I see for instance John Leguizamo talk of his hispanic up bringing, yet when a person of a different ethnicity highlights it I in some instances take offense. I think in many ways the general public does not yet know what they want to see of their ethnicity in the media. I think that this generation is in a transitional phase of self-realization as to the realities of stereotypes in mainstream culture.