Student Thoughts: Tyler Perry Films – Reckless Stereotyping

Darius Dupins/Staff writer

 

Tyler Perry is one of the worst things to happen to black, gay men and ruins everything decent in the world. It’s been recently reported that Perry and his writer and producer minions will offer up a Madea Halloween movie. First off, why? Secondly, stop ruining the things that I love!

My first encounter with Perry was in late 2003 while at my aunt’s house for Thanksgiving weekend. After having gorged on a feast only made for kings and queens and intricately weaving our way through bouts of over sharing and moments we’ll never forget, my family decided to gather around the television to watch Perry’s stage play, “I Can Do Bad All By Myself.” Two-hours of hardy cackles from everyone but me had passed. I felt an overwhelming sense of confusion.

Years later, I accompanied my mother to see the film adaptation of Perry’s, “Madea’s Family Reunion,” which featured one of the worse, overacted movie scenes; afterwards, I vowed to never see another production from Perry again.

Not only does Perry ruin the unadulterated joyous occasions of Halloween and family gatherings, but he’s also a nuisance for the black, gay community. It’s been rumored that Perry is gay due to his success as a single man who at the age of 40, remains without children or a wife.

He always casts muscular men in his various productions and has an obsession with dressing up as a woman. Can a man dress up as a woman for entertainment value without being gay? Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence did it for years without having their sexuality questioned. What’s different from what Murphy and Lawrence did in the mid ‘90s to what Perry has done in the past fifteen years? This is one of the rare times I defend Perry.

In all of the cold, wet garbage that hails from Tyler Perry Studios, Perry features a predominantly black cast with Christian themes that are just as subtle as being hit by a brick. He also likes to play up homophobic and gay stereotypes in his work. As you may or may not recall, Perry tends to think that most successful black men cheat on their wives with gay men and give them AIDS. You can tell who might be the culprit from whoever coughs first or if they’re dark-skinned.

As their divorce becomes messier in the film adaptation of “Why Did I get Married Too,” Janet Jackson’s character, Dr. Patricia Agnew, humiliates her husband in front of his coworkers with a birthday cake featuring an effeminate gay black man gyrating to the Weathergirl’s “It’s Raining Men.” Of course, all of this is done not only to embarrass him but to use the presence of a gay man to contest his masculinity.

Also, it wasn’t necessary in “For Colored Girls” for yet another character to be tainted by a portrayal of a storyline that fueled and reignited hysteria about the small percentage of black men who are living such a lifestyle on the down-low. To add insult to the down-low injury, to focus on down-low men as the sole source of a HIV or AIDS diagnosis in black women is irresponsible and entirely inaccurate.

In order to contest these rumors of Perry being the homosexual I 99.99 percent believe him to be, he all of a sudden gets his long time, on-again, off-again model girlfriend pregnant. I’m not entirely sure which lab this took place in, but I would imagine it happened only in a place where evil resides.

If you sift through the murk of cheap, slapstick comedy and aren’t turned off by the lack of buildup in his plots, it’s easy to recognize that Perry has found his niche and is rightly applauded for the success of his work. Perry has critical acclaim, yes, but he’s fairly problematic.

I don’t dislike his work because his characters are fat or loud, but because they’re under-developed characters or they play up an offensive stereotype. With such an influential voice in Hollywood and pop-culture, Perry has curated an image of what black is by bringing back minstrel-like caricatures and demonizing gay, black men. Now, the question becomes who should be the decision maker on what’s good for the black community and whether the conversation should be shifted to race or class.

 

 

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