Guest Blog: Tyler’s Conundrum

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Crunk & Disorderly has been very good to me. Fresh, mistress of fuckery and all things ratchet, constantly gives me a shout and opportunities to get people to know that I’m alive. Justin, who also writes for the site, routinely shows love for my work and helps bring attention to my site. So I’m trying to pay it forward.

I asked Justin, who has also started blogging on his own site, The Wandering Prince, to contribute a guest blog and he’s decided to chime on everyone’s favorite target and/or inspiration, Tyler Perry.

Now before you read, let the record show that I’d probably stuff Madea’s bra if the check was right.

That said, ya’ll be really really nice to Justin and check out his entry below:

I think we can all admire Tyler Perry’s ascension into Hollywood.

A young man, who didn’t have much money, but believed in the power of the stage.

He took his plays….which were based on the real-life stories that surrounded him in his native Louisiana…and turned them into money-making spectacles.

Those shows, once recorded, would be sold in Wal-Marts everywhere and your third cousin’s, twice removed, trunk.

His success from this arena led him to Lionsgate Studio where he, with the studio’s backing, filmed his first film, in Atlanta, in his own mansion. He then proceeded, with the success of several films, to build his own studio lot with soundstages, and all the trappings of a modern, upscale film studio. This studio is where his television shows with TBS (which have broadcasted more than 100 episodes) are produced.

That very studio is partly the rationale why Atlanta is now called “Black Hollywood.”

His success relies upon chronicling (albeit chopped and screwed) “the black experience.”

Tackling serious issues, such as drug use and spousal discontentment, and putting a somewhat comical spin on them was what he did best. Although his core audience of church-going folks and the over 45-crowd loves his antics, a lot of the younger, African-American folks tended to see his movies as stereotypical exercises in coon-like behavior.

His act was wearing thin upon the 35 and younger audience.

And then along came “Why Did I Get Married?”

A slightly, more serious foray into filmmaking, the movie revolves around a cast of late 30s-early 40 something persons whose marriages are only hanging by a thread.

By no means was it Oscar material, but critics and audiences both concurred that the film was definitely more palatable within sophisticated circles. The people who craved more than a grown 6-foot man in drag got their wish.

And then along came “Precious.”

Although he, along with his “best friend” Oprah, was only slightly involved with bringing this completed film to the masses, it allotted him a chance to be recognized within the upper-echelon of Hollywood. He was even invited to be a presenter at the Oscars. This film was a stark contrast to his work: It was gritty. Unrelenting. Gut-wrenching. The solid performances of Gabby Sibide and Monique was nothing short of astounding, deriving from material I’m sure Mr. Perry’s stable of actors would have loved for him to write for them.

Seeing the success of this film, I’m sure Perry wanted the same for “Why Did I Get Married Too?”  but a sizable chunk of his core audience seem to not like this darker direction. From what I’ve seen, and heard, the film, although solid in the first 3/4s of the film, seems to stumble clumsily in the end.

A family member told me “I wish the ending wasn’t so depressing.”

And of course, “FIX IT! FIX IT! FIX IT!”

And there lies Mr. Perry’s conundrum. Does he continue to produce more comedic material, or does he stick with this more serious tone found in his more recent projects? Tyler himself is partially guilty, as he led his audience into a world in which gun toting cross-dressing men with sassy attitudes are the norm. Convincing those who has been there since the beginning that this new style of storytelling is worth their attention will be quite a task. Although I’m not a huge fan of his, I’m curious to how this new-found interest into crafting more earnest, weighty material will take him.

‘Cause after all, whether we like it or not, Mr. Tyler Perry is the new gatekeeper for Black Hollywood.

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