Tyler Perry: Demand Better
My first draft of this post was a review of Tyler Perry’s latest release A Fall from Grace, which premiered on Netflix on Friday, January 17, 2020. I’m annoyed with this film on so many levels: poor writing, flawed production, a lack of basic research. The film looks like a term paper written 5 minutes before it was due. However, as I was composing that post, I realized that my issues with the movie are indicative of a larger issue with Perry and his brand of arrogance.
I stopped watching Perry produced projects years ago when I realized that he was releasing the same movie over and over and over again. Good Deeds vs. Daddy’s Little Girls; I Can do Bad By Myself vs. Diary of a Mad Black Woman. He may change details, but he never diverts from those basic storylines. There are so many other stories that can and should be told, but no other world exists outside of this for him.
The more significant problem with Perry is his insistence on using a particular type of victimized black woman as the lead character. His women either being cheated on, physically/emotionally abused, mentally unstable or she’s the sole breadwinner for a man who has never treated her right. These tropes are exhausting to see on a consistent basis, bordering on abusive and his audience is complicit in it. They refuse to demand better from him.
Social media would tell us that, as black people, we are supposed to forgive Perry’s faults because he built his studio in Atlanta, he’s telling black stories, and he employs black actors. Now, I applaud his success and appreciate how he’s built his brand over the past 25 years, but I’m going to call BS on the last two points. To say that negates the work of any other black male producer/director working today. Ryan Coogler, Jordan Peele, Spike Lee, Donald Glover, Denzel Washington, and Will Packer all have released mainstream content in the past five years that tell black stories without just focusing on pain of the black community. Also, their depictions of black women are as varied as black women are in the real world.
I want Tyler Perry to succeed; I also want him to produce a better product. If he would do one of the following:
- Allow more time for the writing and delivering of his projects
- Hand the scripts to an editor to weed out plotholes or inconsistencies
- Outline his idea then hand it off to a skilled screenwriter and production team with his oversight.
- Sponsor contests or fellowships to bring new filmmakers into the industry
The project he released this weekend could have been great. The film had an interesting premise, and the plot twist wasn’t wholly predictable. However, what was right about the project is lost in all of the plotholes and shoddy production.
Tyler Perry’s audience has put him in a position to create change in the entertainment industry; they need to stop supporting him until he starts creating better content. We all deserve better than this.
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