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Tyler Perry: ‘Spike Lee can go straight to hell’

  • Written by Tri-State Defender Newsroom
Perry vs. LeeWriter and director Tyler Perry said recently he is weary of deflecting criticism that his work lacks substance and is not an authentic and constructive portrayal of Black Americans. by Erica Butler
NNPA News Service

Writer and director Tyler Perry said recently he is weary of deflecting criticism that his work lacks substance and is not an authentic and constructive portrayal of Black Americans.

Tyler Perry
Tyler Perry

Spike Lee
Spike Lee

Perry’s latest film, “Madea’s Big Happy Family,” opened across the country April 22. During a Beverly Hills news conference, prior to the film’s opening, Perry said he is particularly irritated by criticism from filmmaker Spike Lee.

“I’m so sick of hearing about damn Spike Lee,” Perry said, according to reports. “Spike can go straight to hell! You can print that. I am sick of him talking about me, I am sick of him saying, ‘This is a coon, this is a buffoon.’”

Lee has dismissed Perry’s artistic vision as low-brow entertainment, which exploits negative images – among them Perry dressing in drag for his role as Madea—for laughs and box office success.

Perry’s work, built around the audience’s embrace of Madea, has produced a string of hits and generated strong support from African-American moviegoers.

“I am sick of him talking about black people going to see movies,” Perry said of Lee’s criticism. “This is what he said: ‘You vote by what you see,’ as if black people don’t know what they want to see.”

The feud between the two filmmakers dates back to 2009 when, in an interview with BET reporter Ed Gordon, Lee compared Perry’s portrayal of blacks in his films to “Amos n’ Andy,” the first black situation comedy to be broadcast nationally in the 1950s and which contained stereotypical roles of African Americans. Lee said that he does not expect Perry’s films to reflect Lee’s own vision of Black America, but he insists that “imaging” of the black community is significant.

Perry defended his work, pointing out that other ethnicities have their own versions of his films.

“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 in ‘Tootsie,’” he said.

In his online journal at tylerperry.com, Perry wrote that his new movie is just food for the soul, and only his fans will understand his vision.

Critics “don’t get that this is about more than making a movie and telling a funny story,” he wrote on his site. He added that detractors “don’t get that it’s about uplifting and encouraging the soul. They don’t get that most (Perry film fans) have been with me long before they knew who I was, and they don’t get that you have my back.”

(Special to the NNPA from the AFRO-American newspapers)

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