Yesterday, while at a press conference to promote his new movie “Madea’s Big Happy Family,” Tyler Perry went on a slight tirade when asked about his feelings toward fellow movie maker Spike Lee. According to Movie Line the two famed movie directors haven’t seen eye to eye since 2009 when Spike called Tyler Perry’s films “coonery buffoonery.”
When asked about Lee’s negative comments, Perry snapped, “I’m so sick of hearing about damn Spike Lee. Spike can go straight to hell! I am sick of him saying, ‘This is a coon, this is a buffoon.’ I am sick of him talking about black people going to see movies. This is what he said: ‘You vote by what you see’ — as if black people don’t know what they want to see. I am sick of him. He talked about Whoopi, he talked about Oprah, he talked about me, he talked about Clint Eastwood. Spike needs to shut the hell up!”
Perry then went on to talk about his constant sources of negativity and criticism. He said, “I don’t even understand it. There [are] so many people who walk around, and this is where the whole Spike Lee [issue] comes from — the negativity, ‘This is Stepin Fetchit,’ ‘This is coonery,’ ‘This is buffoonery’ — and they try to get people to get on this bandwagon with them, to get this mob mentality to come against what I’m doing.
What they don’t understand is this, and this is what I want to make perfectly clear to everybody, especially black people: I’ve never seen Jewish people attack Seinfeld and say, ‘This is a stereotype.’ I’ve never seen Italian people attack The Sopranos, I’ve never seen Jewish people complaining about Mrs. Doubtfire or Dustin Hoffman and what they were doing in Tootsie. I never saw it. It’s always black people, and this is something that I cannot undo.
They go on to say that people of other ethnic groups or white people don’t go see my movies, and that’s all a lie. I’m standing on stage looking at thousands of people, thousands of faces, with every race represented, and I’m tired of it. I’m tired of just laying down, tired of just being nice and letting them say whatever they want to say however they want to say it without people knowing what the intent really is.”
Wow. Tyler Perry is right.
Spike Lee is a groundbreaking, movie making machine. That is understood and accepted by 99.9% of Black people. He is responsible for such social and racially examining gems as: School Daze, Do the Right Thing, Malcolm X, Jungle Fever, He Got Game , Mo’ Betta Blues and many many others. His films usually depict African Americans in a time that we struggled to “fit in” to White American culture. They often carry a pointed political message, even the “light hearted” ones. Spike Lee is well respected to say the least, and that is probably why some of his fans have chosen to listen and agree with his view points on Tyler Perry. But the fact still remains that Tyler Perry is right.
Tyler Perry is also a groundbreaking, movie making machine. This too, is understood and accepted by most Black Americans. His films not only examine social struggles we face as a people, they often magnify problems a lot of Black families don’t want to discuss. Teen pregnancy, incest, domestic violence, adultery. If you can, name one Spike Lee film that addresses such problems within the Black family. I can’t. But I can name several Tyler Perry films that do.
Ok, but Spike called Perry’s work “coonery” and “baffonery,” to which he is entitled to do. This is America and everyone is entitles to their opinion. However, my opinion is that Spike Lee is simply from a different time. Perhaps he has been a Hollywood figurehead for so long that he has no real touch of the modern black family. The family where little Dante discovers at 15 that his older sister is really his mother. Or the family that has it all together, until someone starts sleeping with someone else. Of course every Black family does not have these issues, but that does not make them any less legitimate issues within the Black community. The fact that Tyler Perry has chosen to but a positive (funny) spin on such serious issues, seems like it should be commended. But maybe Black people, as a whole, aren’t yet able to look at our own flaws and address them.
I think Tyler Perry has simply found a venue to speak to today’s youth. Spike Lee possessed the venue used to speak to the parents of today’s youth. Those are two totally different generations, so it should be expected that the method and subject would be different. Should it not? Please comment below and let me know your thoughts on this whole Spike Lee / Tyler Perry Fued. Oh, and check out the trailer for Tyler Perry’s newest film, “Madea’s Big Happy Family,” to your left.
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