I’ve always envied white writers if only for the fact that they don’t have to read Zane. They can dismiss Zane out of pocket while I, if I want to remain in touch with my community, must at least give credible reasons for not liking her work. Like, say, in Addicted, I’d complain that there’d be no way that the husband would have returned to that horrible woman. She got men killed, after all. And not only that, I found it implausible that this guy would make practical use of pornography and avoid certain lovemaking actions with his own wife. And while we’re at it, let’s talk about Nervous. I mean, sex with the mattress store employee on a mattress? C’mon!
Now, as a prestigious alumnus of the nation’s greatest university (hint: our colors are blue and white), I know a lot of smart Black people. None of them like Tyler Perry. Or at least, none will admit to it. I’ve been silent on my fandom up until this point for two reasons:
1. I didn’t want to look like an idiot in front of my friends.
2. I don’t think I’ve seen enough Tyler Perry movies to qualify as a “real” fan.
And here’s the thing: while yesterday’s smart Blacks with a taste for film debated the value of Fellini versus Bergman, today’s smart Blacks are all about Soderbergh versus Mamet. You mention Spike Lee, you get verbally bashed. You mention any other Black director, you get ignored. You mention Tyler Perry; you might get something thrown at you. If the Black intelligentsia needed a logo, they might have to go with Uncle Ruckus.
So here again as a film fan, I find myself envying white people. White people are free to go to the movies simply to be entertained. Black people go in worrying about whether or not we’ll see a realistic depiction of ourselves onscreen.
Personally, I never have concern. I know for a fact that they’ll never be a realistic depiction of me onscreen unless they bring in Rodney Allen Rippy.
But here’s what I think scares my smart friends the most: Tyler Perry movies are realistic depictions of Black people. There’s the whole spectrum. As in real life, the upwardly mobile stands right alongside the crack-head cousin. You also can’t hate on a guy for giving work to Black actors and actresses.
And I strongly suspect that some of my brilliant friends that hate Tyler Perry so much haven’t even seen any of his movies.