Monday, June 1, 2009

Spike Lee vs. Tyler Perry

In one corner we have a movie legend, born in Atlanta, GA but claims Brooklyn, NY as his home. A Morehouse man and a prolific yet sometimes controversial actor, writer, film producer... Spike Lee.

In the other we have a native of New Orleans now residing in Atlanta, GA. A man making his name in the movie industry who literally built his success from nothing. He is well known for his plays and now for his movies and television shows. Tyler Perry. Two different styles of movie making but to add to it Spike Lee is not a fan of Tyler Perry.

In an interview
at the 14th Annual Black Enterprise Conference, Lee expressed his displeasure at "lazy" journalists who call his work "controversial," and the 'coonery' and buffoonery" of media aimed at black consumers, singling out the work of Tyler Perry. he continued, I know it’s making a lot of money and breaking records, but we can do better. … I am a huge basketball fan, and when I watch the games on TNT, I see these two ads for these two shows (Tyler Perry’s "Meet the Browns" and "House of Payne") and I am scratching my head. … We got a black president and we going back to Mantan Moreland and Sleep ‘n’ Eat?

On Tyler Perry and what the black consumer (really) wants to see:

We’ve had this discussion back and forth. When John Singleton [made Boyz in the Hood], people came out to see it. But when he did Rosewood, nobody showed up. So a lot of this is on us! You vote with your pocketbook, your wallet. You vote with your time sitting in front of the idiot box, and [Tyler Perry] has a huge audience. We shouldn’t think that Tyler Perry is going to make the same film that I am going to make, or that John Singleton or my cousin Malcolm Lee [would make]. As African Americans, we’re not one monolithic group so there is room for all of that. But at the same time, for me, the imaging is troubling and it harkens back to Amos n’ Andy.

Very thought provoking statements from Spike Lee. I agree with Spike to an extent. It is the consumer that has the final say. No one forces us to go and watch these films, yet at the same time we should be going out in droves to see movies like Malcolm X and Rosewood in order to facilitate dialogue amongst ourselves and understand our rich history which is being lost to this generation. Indeed Tyler Perry is a comedian and many comedians walk a thin line when it comes to entertainment and buffoonery. However a flux of black comedians and movie producers have overcome this barrier. Tyler Perry should consider the social implications of his productions and use his popularity as a platform for showing blacks in a positive role as well as providing some comedic relief. I would actually like to see Perry and Lee do some sort of movie together. Im sure it would provide the best of both worlds.


CutieTJ said...

Good post! I agree with your take on the situation. But I enjoy Tyler Perry's work. In my opinion he always has a message in them.

Jamar Herrod said...

Spike Lee is legendary. Movies like School Daze, Malcolm X, and Crooklyn exemplify how he makes everyone critically think about topics that are raised in each movie. Lee movies sometimes take looking at a couple times so that you understand some of the issues that may be missed. Tyler perry 2 me only makes ppl laugh in a lot of his movies and shows. There are some lessons that he gives out in his movies, however he is not as effective as Spike Lee. We disccused the nature of laughter in my Black Aesthetics class and blacks are always trying 2 find someway 2 laugh, even if at the expense of others or themselves. Laughter becomes a crutch and honestly everything isn't funny.Enriching ourselves regarding our culture allows us 2 not just share the funny moments but all aspects of our history, the struggles, symbols, metaphoric ideals which Lee demonstrates in his films. We should b flocking 2 spike lee films seroiusly. I plan on seeing all his films eventually. It would be interesting 2 see a collab between perry and lee.