Tyler Perry is doing a lot for Blacks in Hollywood and paving a way for others – showing young Black men and women that they can write, direct, produce and maybe even star in their own films. It is this drive, this energy that we need in the Black community, but at what price? While Perry has a very large following and his films do very well, what are we giving up?
His characters present sketches of African American life and although the work is predominantly family oriented, that does not seem to necessarily challenge. Moreover, his goal seems not to challenge our thinking, but to represent another version of the “Mama on the Couch” play. His latest attempt departed from his usual Medea character and focused on a Black professional class of characters whose lives were full of infidelity and secrets towards and from their spouses.
His scenes were cut straight from plays and his characters, however interesting, scratched only the mere surface. Tyler Perry’s character, (cleverly named Terry) was the only one never shown at work. He was a pediatrician married to a lawyer, who never confessed about her hysterectomy, but was outed during dinner at their couples’s week.
There were so many rich moments in the film and many heartwarming stories – almost too many for the nearly two hour film. Much of what could have been good about the film was skimmed over. I knew the characters types, but I did not fully know the character.
Will we continue to accept this as good black filmmaking or will we challenge Tyler Perry to take the next step. Because of the lack of popular Black Film makers we cannot look at Tyler Perry the same way. There are not many other mainstream filmmakers to go to besides Spike Lee. Even then, it is unfair to label the good and the bad. Had we more Blacks in the business, we could accept Tyler Perry and move on to another mogul.
Garlia C. Jones