Tag Archives: Tyler Perry

Friday Links Roundup, 12-2-11

Melvin Childs is a former radio executive (now promoter/producer) with several claims against Tyler Perry, including: his chance meeting with Tyler Perry, long before most of had heard of the man, that changed both of their lives forever; that they were friends before Tyler betrayed him; that he discovered Tyler Perry; that there’s a different side of Tyler Perry than the image he publicly projects; that Tyler severed their relationship with no explanation and used his (Childs’) original marketing blueprint to help create the framework for the future Tyler Perry Hollywood brand, despite the fact that he was a mentor, producer, and friend to Tyler Perry; that he (Childs) revolutionized the marketing format for black theater with Tyler Perry’s first play; that he (Childs) made huge sacrifices with his family for Tyler Perry’s sake; and of course the aforementioned secret backroom deals, illicit cash, backstabbing, and double-dealing.

Yes, this is a real book folks; I’m not making this shit up.

A small church in Pike County, Kentucky has voted to ban interracial couples from most church activities ‘to promote greater unity among the church body.’

Melvin Thompson, former pastor of Gulnare Freewill Baptist church, proposed the ban after Stella Harville brought her fiance, Ticha Chikuni, to services in June. Harville, who goes by the name Suzie, played the piano while Chikuni sang.

Before stepping down as pastor in August, Thompson told Harville that her fiance could not sing at the church again. Harville is white and Chikuni, a native of Zimbabwe, is black.

The group includes 10 current employees and one former worker who was fired in 2009, according to the lawsuit. The plaintiffs, on average, have worked for Comcast for 15 years.

The employees — technicians, who are responsible for installing and repairing cable equipment in customers’ homes and for diagnosing and repairing large-scale cable outages — described the South Side facility as a ‘hostile’ work environment where they were called derogatory names including ‘ghetto techs” or “lazy techs.’

The plaintiffs also claim that the South Side operation, located at 721 E. 112th St., was infested with roaches and rats, and until it was renovated in 2009, had a leaky roof and was not temperature controlled.

The figure of the longshoreman has cut an enduring image of hard-working New York for decades. But troubled by a work force that remains predominantly white, the commission, a bistate agency that oversees the dockworkers, pressed the New York Shipping Association in May to produce a diverse pool of candidates for temporary jobs. The shippers deferred to the International Longshoremen’s Association, the union that has maintained an iron grip on the ports for decades, and the union came up with 37 candidates.

All but four were white men. None were Hispanic. Only one was black, and, according to the commissioners, he did not really want a job. The other three were white women.

By Thursday, as I returned to New York City, I continued to see tweets and blogs about the brutality of the NYPD. Although I absolutely agreed with the sentiments, I had a nagging feeling in my stomach. I couldn’t let it go. My inner militant Negro (whom I keep sedated with brunch and Modern Warfare 3) wanted to write in all caps:

“OH, SO THE WHITE MAN GETS HIT AND NOW IT’S AN ISSUE! THE BLACK MAN HAS BEEN BEATEN FOR YEARS! WE DIDN’T LAND ON PLYMOUTH ROCK, PLYMOUTH ROCK LANDED ON US!!”

I knew that wouldn’t do anything besides exacerbate the situation, but I wanted to comment on it and reasonably say, “Um … so there’s this … ” I didn’t want to take away from the issue of the abuse that the occupiers were receiving, but I wanted to acknowledge the irony of the collective outrage over an issue that’s become so commonplace within my community that small children are taught never to disobey a police officer, to quietly go along with whatever is happening in order not to be on the receiving end of abuse.

Why Did I Get So “Sensateeve”?: Homophobia and Tyler Perry’s Black Marriage Franchise

by Guest Contributor Nonso Christian Ugbode

A good rumor is like a wild forest fire. It comes and goes mostly on its own grand will and terrorizes most in its presence, firefighters and rumormongers alike. The frenzy of speculation around Tyler Perry’s stated or implied sexuality is such a rumor, a sea of loud crackles and hazardous smoke, so forgive me for keeping my distance. Fire burns. This statement is about something different, albeit adjacent. After a viewing of Perry’s “Why Did I get Married, Too?” one cannot help but be struck by its somewhat blatant and unchecked homophobic moments. From “boys-being-boys” to boys in drag jumping out of cakes for no apparent reason the film strikes a discordant chord in some instances of comedy that mostly comes across as coded homophobia.

A good critique should always come with a healthy dose of confession, so here are a few to color your reading. My perspective is one of a black man in search of true love. “That all-consuming, can’t-live-without you love,” (forgive the borrowed phrase dear Carrie Bradshaw.) The kind of marriage I seek is expressly banned in about forty-one states in this great union of ours, and New York just barely legalized it. So aside from being an idealist I am also a bit of a fantasist. Suffice it to say that when I look at depictions of love, Black love in particular, I seek mirrors of myself by habit. Tyler Perry is the main focus here only because he has the biggest mirror – one that if it is not going to pay me any compliments should at least not distort my reflection. That’s all I’m saying.

With two movies in this vein under his belt, a look inside the contemporary Black marriage one might say, Perry has succeeded in saying absolutely nothing about Black gay marriage. Much has been explored when it comes to the committed heterosexual Black relationship; the physical cheating, the emotional cheating, the wanting the baby, the not wanting the baby, the death of the baby, the emotional and physical abuse, etc. And beyond the pathology one manages to glimpse quite a few moments of bliss; which is what keeps me coming back to the franchise maybe. The love portrayed for example between Louis Gossett Jr. and Cicely Tyson in the sequel is moving. And in all that exploration there is not a mention of girls who marry each other, or boys who are committed to one other, and how wonderful that might be. Not a sentence. Now this is of course expected, as it is status quo. If the president is allowed to have a constantly “evolving” perspective on the “issue.” Well, we can all also pretend it’s nothing to speak up about, I guess.

So beyond being a martyr for the cause the least one could expect from Perry would be not to put down being gay, right? Well, here come the spoilers. Continue reading

Quentin Tarantino Presents For Colored Girls: Or the Myths Behind the Box Office Defense of Tyler Perry’s Adaptation

by Guest Contributor Sofía Quintero


Lately I find myself wondering what might have been Quentin Tarantino’s approach to cinematizing Ntozake Shange’s seminal choreopoem For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf.

Once he had gotten over the initial shock of being offered the job, I can imagine Tarantino signing up for the challenge.   Known for penning screenplays driven by crisp dialogue and characters with quirky names (Reservoir Dogs, anyone?), he could have found an immediate albeit superficial connection with the source material. Since Tarantino is also an aficionado of Black cinema circa the time of the play’s original production, I’d bet he would have pursued a gritty 70s aesthetic and forgone imposing contemporary settings and storylines. And let’s face it – since the race and gender politics of his films are usually a muddle of contradictions, he might not have done any worse than Tyler Perry with regard to Black representation.

I mean, if the job of adapting For Colored Girls was not going to an African American woman, might as well as given Quentin Tarantino a shot at it.

Or Martin Scorcese. Or Steven Spielberg. Or Christopher Nolan.

You’re kidding, right?

Yes and no. Almost one month after its release, the blogosphere remains abuzz with equally strident critiques and defenses of Perry’s treatment of the Black feminist literary classic. One particular defense of Perry has inspired my absurdist train of thought: had not Perry been attached to write and direct For Colored Girls, a major studio would not have financed the film. The argument further implies that he guaranteed box office success that would otherwise evade the project if it were even made, stunting future writing and directing opportunities for other African American filmmakers.

This argument rests on several assumptions that keep Black cinematic representation so stagnant. To compel the film industry to take both the business and politics of our representation seriously enough to increase and diversify the stories it produces, we must reconsider them. Perry’s adaptation of For Colored Girls should urge us to question three assumptions in particular. Continue reading

Race and Humor: “The Five White Characters In Every Tyler Perry Movie”

by Latoya Peterson

Via readers Lola and Ron, I watched a video from Cracked.com called “The Five White Characters In Every Tyler Perry Movie.”

(Interestingly, I was a bit more amused by the Newcastle Brown Ale spin on the adoption narrative commercial that appears permanently coupled with the video.)

Cracked doesn’t allow embedding, but here’s a couple screen grabs that are really all you need to know.

New white girlfriend
Hooker
corporate boss

The comedian, Eliza Skinner, jokes that there are only five roles that a white woman can play in a Tyler Perry movie: the new white girlfriend, the evil corporate boss, the hooker, the new white wife, and the nasty shopkeeper. Leaving aside that all of these characters don’t actually appear in most of Perry’s movies (she also left out the white friend, played by Kathy Bates in the Family that Preys), I couldn’t really find the joke funny.

For me, it just reinforced how even in “black movies,” there is still space for white people. But that doesn’t work the other way around.

I tried to think up how we could flip this around.

What are the top five black characters in a Judd Apatow…never mind.

Top five black characters in a Michael Bay…nope, not there either.

Steven Spielberg’s got Amistad and The Color Purple under his belt, but these movies were based on existing historical moments or texts.

Then I wondered if we could expand it – if it would fare any better if we included more POCs. But still no. (Five black characters in a romcom won’t work either. Maybe if we dropped it down to two…)

Even hunting for stereotypical roles in modern movies, it would appear that in many, many mainstream cinematic creations, nonwhite people only exist as extras. Even the black sidekick phenomenon is on the wane.

Readers, can you think of any current directors who cast enough characters of color in their movies for us to make jokes out of?

Edited to Add: Michael Bay did Bad Boys I and II. I’m not giving him a pass, but he has shown it is possible have a major movie with two black leads. (Side note: And what is this Bad Boys III they speak of “in development.” Damn IMDB pro!) ( Super side note: I’m not going to lie – I got a little giddy when Simon Pegg & Nick Frost fashion themsevles after Bad Boys in Hot Fuzz.) Thanks Malones!

Are E. Lynn, Hardy, McMillan & Perry creating art? Do they have to?

by Guest Contributor J. Smith, originally published at jbrotherlove

E. Lynn Harris, James Earl Hardy, Terry McMillan and Tyler Perry

Disclaimer: I’m not offering any real answers to “Do E. Lynn, Hardy, McMillan and Perry create art?” It’s a topic on my mind this morning. Robin Givhan at The Washington Post has a review of novel In My Father’s House, written by E. Lynn Harris before he died in 2009. It’s pretty brutal:

Let’s get this basic fact out of the way: This is not a well-written novel. E. Lynn Harris, who completed “In My Father’s House” before his death in 2009, does not have a poetic voice or even a particularly eloquent one. This is not a work of detail-oriented craftsmanship.

And that’s just the beginning.

The review goes on to call out Harris’ shallow character description and clumsy plot development. Frankly, these are things we’ve known for years. Like fellow black, gay writer James Earl Hardy and outspoken Terry McMillan, E. Lynn Harris spoke to a very specific reader. While the writing in these novels don’t challenge literary circles, they do speak to black female and gay communities longing for written representation.

Which is not to say I’m giving these types of work a “pass”. I was an early fan of E. Lynn Harris and James Earl Hardy simply because nobody was publishing contemporary work about black gay life in the mid-90s. By each of their third novel, the novelty wore off for me. Maybe I’m crazy, but I like my artist to expand as they continue to create; and possible help me to expand with them.

This point of view could be applied to Tyler Perry, as well. While his lack of skill seems blatantly obvious to me, the demand for his work is staggering. However, when a 30-minute cartoon can lampoon and sum up Perry’s plot devices in 15 seconds, you have to question how hard Perry is even trying to elevate his craft. Perhaps one issue is how Perry tries to do everything: write, direct, produce, act, etc. We’ll see when he puts his spin on somebody else’s work; namely Ntozake Shange‘s classic For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf.

Yeah, I’m afraid.

However, I remember an interview with Questlove in which he said he doesn’t categorize music as good or bad anymore. The more important question is if the work is successful in meeting its intended goal/audience. I’ve started to allow that philosophy inform my own prejudices (if only to save my sanity). This is why my second question “Do they have to?” is as relevant to me as my first.

Of Push, Precious, Percival, and “My Pafology”

by Latoya Peterson
erasure

The reality of popular culture was nothing new. The truth of the world landing on me daily, or hourly, was nothing I did not expect. But this book was a real slap in the face. It was like strolling through an antique mall, feeling good, liking the sunny day and then turning the corner to find a display of watermelon-eating, banjo-playing darkie carvings and a pyramid of Mammy cookie jars.

—Thelonious Monk Ellison (Percival Everett), Erasure

I knew that before I wrote a word on what I felt about Push and Precious, I was going to have a problem.  One, my personal experience colors a lot of my perception of the novel and the movie.  While Precious’ narrative is not close to mine (I’m way closer to Lola, from Oscar Wao) there were lots of notes of familiarity.

A few too many for comfort.

In discussions with the Racialicious crew, Thea and I actually got really close to parsing out why I feel so strongly about the work.

Thea wrote:

On the topic of African American lit…I am reading Don’t Erase Me right now by Carolyn Ferrell.

I guess it is supposed to be stories of black girls in the ghetto. The stories I’ve read so far are all about incest. So this trend is starting to bother me. Though I guess it could just be what I’m reading…

I wrote back:

It’s not really a trend if it happens a lot.

My sister and I were *not* molested by anyone growing up.  That made us a rarity.

Carmen pointed out that works that do feature incest and black people (like The Color Purple, The Bluest Eye) do tend to get critical acclaim and recognition, and wondered why that was. I  thought that the issue may be that white reviews, book publishers, etc, only know how to respond to black dysfunction, but that doesn’t erase the fact that so many of us go through this type of abuse.

Then Thea got all MFA on us, writing:

Just to clarify I didn’t mean that I thought sexual abuse was a trend. That would be a pretty awful thing to say. It’s more that I’m reading a deluge of books for an AfAm lit class that are about incest, or about black dysfunction in the inner city.

It’s distressing because while I don’t doubt for a second that this happens and that this is something that needs to be talked about and talked about until it stops happening, I am also quite sure that there is a lot more to being poor and black in the city than incest and family dysfunction. Continue reading

Scattered Thoughts on Tyler Perry

by Latoya Peterson

Bringing up Tyler Perry tends to complicate conversations.  He is a polarizing figure, represented by his work, an entrepreneur who provides work for black actors often passed over by the Hollywood machine, yet who trades in what some would call limiting representations of blackness and/or stereotypes.  He is often touted as proof that blacks can achieve success outside of the mainstream, and yet speaking with those who have worked for him in below the line positions casts doubt that Perry is dedicated to anything outside of making (and keeping) money.

Still, as Tyler Perry keeps making headlines, we continue to wade through these conversations, which involve his work but are really conversations about race, class, and gender.

A couple of weeks ago, while guesting over at Jezebel, I was asked to write a piece on Tyler Perry being tapped to write, direct, and produce a film based on Ntozake Shange’s choreopoem “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When The Rainbow is Enuf.”

I was immediately skeptical.

Continue reading

Lionsgate – An African American Studio?

by Guest Contributor Melissa Silverstein, originally published at Women and Hollywood

Nzingha StewartLionsgate Studios, which has been in the very lucrative Tyler Perry business for several years now, is clearly on track to take up more of the slack in producing and distributing entertainment for the underserved African American market. They bought Push (now renamed Precious) out of Sundance with Perry and Oprah, and now has acquired the film rights for Ntozake Shange’s play For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf.

The play was supposed to have been revived recently on Broadway with India.Arie but financing fell through. The play initially opened off Broadway in 1974, then moved to Broadway and was nominated for a best play Tony in 1977. A TV movie was made of the play in 1982.

Lionsgate “touted its ‘leadership role in producing and distributing a diverse roster of motion pictures about black characters.’” when announcing the film.

Interesting.

From what I can tell this is all about Tyler exerting some power. For Colored Girls will be directed by music video director Nzingha Stewart who adapted the screenplay. She has an affiliation with Perry having directed The Marriage Counselor which is a part of the “Tyler Perry Collection.”

It’s pretty interesting that the last indie studio is being this formal, deliberate and public about it’s strategy. Will it be a success? And can it maybe influence someone to think about women this way?

Lionsgate acquires ‘Suicide’ (Variety)