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ABW’s The Tyler Perry Project

Tyler Perry’s little outburst at Spike Lee has shown up so many times in my newsfeed that I finally broke down and read about the press conference and then this letter he posted on his website called “They Are Trying To Kill Madea!1

My first thought: Well, I certainly hope so.

But, you know, I don’t want to be a “hater” or anything, so I actually read the whole thing. Most of it is just whining about how folks out there are trying to stop his audience from seeing his movies by going on and on about how they’re terribly written, misogynistic, crap2 instead of seeing what’s good in the movies. To wit:

They don’t get the spiritual side of this, they don’t get the folks that not only laugh, but also get something out of it that they can use to make their lives better. They don’t get that this is about more than making a movie and telling a funny story. They don’t get that it’s about uplifting and encouraging the soul.

Really, Tyler Perry? Is that what your movies are about? You could have fooled me, because from the small sliver I’ve seen in passing or been forced to watch by my family members (who have unfortunate bad taste), I haven’t seen much that’s spiritually uplifting or been imparted any wisdom that might make my life better. Perhaps it’s because I have not sat down and watched any of these films in full that I’m not experiencing the full effects.

Perry is on a serious “poor, poor me” trip right now, which is surprising since his newest movie just hit theaters and I haven’t seen any inkling of his next movie not getting made because of the world’s haters. I would have a lot of empathy for his sensitive artist bit — being one myself — if I didn’t have the impression that his movies aren’t just bad, they are bad for you. Not just You in general, but for the American black community as a whole.

But again, I havn’t watched them all. Maybe it’s time I did.

Thus The Angry Black Woman’s Tyler Perry Project:

I will watch every movie made by this man in an attempt to offer critical analysis based on actual experience and viewing. As I watch each, I’ll liveblog it, then I’ll write up my thoughts after it’s over and I’ve had time to settle. The movies on my list:

  • Diary of a Mad Black Woman
  • Madea’s Family Reunion
  • Daddy’s Little Girls
  • Why Did I Get Married?
  • Meet the Browns
  • The Family That Preys
  • Madea Goes to Jail
  • I Can Do Bad All by Myself
  • Why Did I Get Married Too?
  • For Colored Girls

I just added all of these to my Netflix queue3 — oddly, only Madea Goes to Jail and I Can Do Bad All by Myself are available for instant viewing. As I’m on 1 DVD at a time right now this might take a while, but I plan to start with Diary of a Mad Black Woman this coming weekend. If you all would like to join me in this endeavor and maybe hang out in a chat room all watching the movie together, let me know in the comments. As it is, I’ll let you know when I plan to watch each movie so you can bring the popcorn.

  1. The second link goes to a text-only version of the message. In the full website view, you can’t link directly because it’s a Flash-based website. Siderant: How is it that Tyler Perry is this successful and still has a website from 1996? This shit is terrible. Just because you came from the ghetto doesn’t mean your digital home has to still be one. []
  2. At least, this is the impression I get from the critical analysis I read []
  3. And now my recommendations are messed up forever. []

17 thoughts on “ABW’s The Tyler Perry Project”

  1. Sharon says:

    Are you for though??? As a write, I would think you would research and review the fact, I.e. T.P’s movies before writing a blog about?? I was interested in reading I saw the hot topic, like you out of curiosity? However, once I read you comment that you haven’t even watched his movies in full to get the sentiment of so many, how can you criticize?? I think it’s only fair you follow your own suggestion and then blog?? I know we all have a right to voice their opinions, that’s mine.

    1. The Angry Black Woman says:

      Uh, Sharon, that is what I’m doing. I was completely honest about the fact that my opinions are based on only partial watching of the movies and on analysis and criticism I’ve seen elsewhere. And I said I’d watch them all in order to give a better informed opinion. So uh… what is it you find troubling about this?

  2. Carey says:

    Don’t forget that Perry started as a playwright. All of his plays are much longer, and that’s where a lot of the “spiritual side” and “wisdom” are to be found. The movies based on the plays tone it down tremendously and shift the focus to the outrageous. If your project is to be complete you really ought to start with one of the early plays and compare it to the final movie.

    1. The Angry Black Woman says:

      do you want to kill me??

      Though I did see that many of the plays are available on Netflix, so I might do one or two and compare to the films.

      1. Carey says:

        Shoot no… please watch Tyler Perry responsibly… never do a marathon… be prepared to be hit over the head with Jesus… be prepared for lots of gospel(ish) music…

        His movies appeal a little to much to the common denominator for me, but they are certainly no worse then any other family fare stuff out there.

        I think he really shines with his plays though, and the whole showman thing. He knows his audience, he knows what they like, and he delivers it fairly consistently. At the same time he isn’t afraid to push them from time to time.

        Mr. Brown in the movies seems like a stereotype. Madea seems like a cartoon. The writing seems a bit flat.

        Mr. Brown in the plays knows how to tease an entire theater full of people and have them on the edge of their seats, then get the big roar that brings the house down. Madea provides comic relief between the serious bits and points out the “messages”. The big breakthrough moments in the plays comes with a song cue. Usually sung with so much raw emotion it will send shivers down your spine and make you say “DAYUM! That’s how you sing a gospel song!”

        The plays are designed so daddy can laugh at Madea and Mr. Brown; mommy can nod her head and give daddy the evil eye when the heroine gets done wrong; the kids can sit in wonder at how actors on a stage bring characters to life; and they can all enjoy a pleasant evening out together even though they got preached at a bit.

        Anyway, like I said. Give at least one of the plays a whirl too. If nothing else it will give you a little context of the evolution of the movies.

  3. Tammy says:

    I’m tentatively interested :)

  4. TaKeshia Brooks/Inda Lauryn says:

    Do not waste your time viewing all his films. If you see one, you have seen them all. I was forced to watch three of his stage plays all in the same day before the movies came out and there is no variation whatsoever. I watched some of his movies because I study Jill Scott and love Alfre Woodard, but your first instincts are right: his movies are terrible. I cannot even bring myself to watch For Colored Girls even though I know I’ll have to because Macy Gray is in it. Otherwise, why would you waste a cent of your money on his films? They are just truly awful.

    By the way, love the Luna avatar.

  5. Tanya D says:

    Where do I send you some booze? You will need it after watching that tripe. I’m all in for empirical data but I don’t think I could stomach his entire body of work in the name of research. Thanks for taking one for the team.

  6. Lori S. says:

    “I never saw Italians criticizing The Sopranos“?!

    Oh Tyler honey, you didn’t look very hard, did you. (We won’t even address the “comparing yourself to what, again?” aspect of that comment.)

  7. Johnathan Fields says:

    Sounds like a responsible project you’ve got going here! As you watch, notice how Perry begins to remove any investment in the development of his story/characters. I was originally a Tyler Perry fan circa “Family Reunion” however his days of “Madea Goes to Jail” and “Why Did I Get Married Too?” seem to be running steady–to which I say, no thank you. If Tyler Perry were really committed to his audiences, he wouldn’t capitalize on their loyalty and sell half-worked shit.

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  10. Sanoe says:

    I applaud your integrity when it comes to critical analysis of popular culture and the works of Tyler Perry in particular, but cannot help but feel this is a tad masochistic. Wouldn’t it be better to watch the movies and plays that are considered his best work?

    The type of full immersion you’re proposing can be useful if you want a comprehensive understanding of an artist’s body of work, especially if you’re interested in how Perry has developed as a writer and actor over time. However, it seems as though what you’re trying to do is find what good, if any, is in his movies. If they can be said to be ‘about uplifting and encouraging the soul.’

    If that’s the case, I think watching all of them may be more harmful than helpful. Even with an artist’s whose work you enjoy, it’s easy to fall into a sort of critical fatigue where you’ve seen X before and you already know how X will play out, so you aren’t able to appreciate how this variation on X is superior to the others.

    Either way, I look forward to your commentary. I can’t say I’m familiar with the gentleman’s work.

  11. Gillian says:

    Wow! You have my deep and abiding admiration for undertaking this. I managed to sit through all of Daddy’s Little Girls. And I am still sorry I did that.

  12. Sharon says:

    It was not so muchb troublesome, if that’s the word I used? I was curious moreso to read your commentary to see if you had a different spin on this debate. I’m sure it took some time to even write and address the topic before having the opportunity to view for yourself. Nothing more, nothing less I respect your honesty and enjoy your work and look forward to your update. I have seen every movie with the exception of this wnkds release and the support in record numbers speak for itself. Everyone have their preferences and he and Spike both are talented brothers with their own vision? My only hope is we as a black people were more cohesive as a whole like most other groups?

  13. Digital Coyote says:

    I wish you luck on this one. I find something new to be ragey about when I have to sit through his films, particularly–but not limited to–where Black women with educations are involved.

  14. Aminah Hanan says:

    Don’t do it! Use your powers for good. I threw myself on the blueray and watched Perry’s For Colored Girls… To say that it was horrible would be an understatement. For someone with roots in the theater I felt the he may have done justice to Ntozake Shange’s choreopoem if he would have directed the original content in a stage production. I won’t even get started on his subliminal warped spiritual messages.

  15. Gina says:

    OH I can’t wait for your reviews. Having been held hostage in many a hair salon and family holiday, I am well versed in the stage plays and the first few films. Basically you have a bunch of inexplicably angry Black women. A “good Black man.” Evil degree-having Black women and a really really evil “dark skinned” Black male villain, unless the villain is a really degree-having Black woman. Every conflict is resolved with a gospel medley. Rinse and repeat.

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