I learned something tonight while watching the Mo’Nique show. I learned that Black people hate when other Black people don’t support their work. They call it, “tearing each other down.” On tonight’s show, Tyler Perry responded to Spike Lee’s claims that his filmmaking isn’t exactly groundbreaking material and is one chicken wing shy of the image of Flavor Flav opening a chicken joint. Instead of responding to Lee directly, he cried black-on-black crime using tactics that I haven’t seen since the rise of the Birthers. While Perry has a right to be angry, he ain’t gotta tell lies to make his point—and there were many.
Tyler Perryism#1: He wishes Spike Lee would just call him and discuss his issues, instead of making his issues public. If only he would do that, he would allow Spike to help him and make him into a better filmmaker (and maybe vice versa).
I’m not claiming to know what Tyler Perry really wants, but I doubt a phone call from Spike Lee is one of those things. I can imagine Spike putting in a call to Tyler Perry’s studios and having his call passed around more than Basketball Wives in Miami. Are we really to believe that Tyler Perry would “tone down” his money-makin’ Madea character to be a more acceptable image of a down-south Grandmother? Or, maybe Perry would be open to replacing Mr. Brown with Braxton from the Jaime Foxx show (or another more well-spoken brotha). Spike Lee isn’t criticizing Perry’s directorial style. He’s criticizing his imagery—imagery that’s made him a very, very rich man. So, why he would want that phone call is beyond me.
Tyler Perryism #2: All the mainstream sees is two black men “fighting and tearing each other down.”
Is that all the mainstream sees or is Tyler Perry just playing the victim card in the media (the week his movie is released)? On the Mo’Nique show, Perry used the phrase “tearing me down” more times than I can count. Of course, his words, “Spike Lee can go to hell” are plastered all over the Internet, as well. If that’s what the mainstream sees, then it’s only because Perry is creating that perception.
Tyler Perryism #3: Black people have a history with tearing each other down. Just look at Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Dubois; and Zora Neal Hurston and Langston Hughes.
Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Dubois had fundamental disagreements about how to advance Blacks in the U.S. They had differing ideologies. There’s nothing wrong with that. Same with ZNH and LH. Have we really come to a place where we are so sensitive to intra-racial relations that holding different ideologies is not only looked down upon, but dangerous to the unification of the Black race? Tyler Perry just denigrated the entire foundation of Black scholarly work to a matter of Blacks “tearing each other down.” We should all be offended.
Tyler Perryism #4: Other races don’t “tear each other down.”
Actually, other races do “tear each other down.” They just don’t call it “tearing each other down.” They call it feuding or disagreeing, which is what this is—A feud and/or disagreement about how to portray Blacks in the media. Shit, maybe other races do tear each other down, but they still do it. Latino’s ostracize other Latino’s for not being “Latino” enough. Seriously. Try joining MEChA without speaking Spanish. White women tear each other down on every single show about white women out. Asians call each other “FOBs” if they display one too many characteristics of being from the homeland. If you think this Asian and this Asian ain’t got deeply-rooted cultural beef, you trippin’. Gay people tear each other down for being too gay or too in the closet, depending on the time of day. Point is, Blacks aren’t alone in their crusade against one another…if that’s what this Perry vs. Lee thing is (which it isn’t. I’m just making a point).
Tyler Perryism #5: Italians didn’t criticize the Sopranos for being stereotypical.
Is he kidding? What rock was he living under in 2001? Plenty of Italians criticized the Sopranos. Plenty. I mean it was headline news, my brother. Today, Italians criticize Jersey Shore. I mean the “tear down the kids of Jersey Shore” and blast them on CNN kind of criticism.