What is Tyler Perry Teaching Black Boys about Black Men?
My son does not like Tyler Perry's movies. Granted, the only time he has seen Mr. Perry's work was when we were on a church sponsored bus trip and he was bored. When I asked him why, he replied, "I don't like his characters."
I can't really say I blame him. People are often shocked when I say that I have an issue with his plays, movies or sitcoms. They gasped and clutch their chest like Fred Sanford as if Black Woman=Must Love Tyler Perry's Work.
I applaud Tyler Perry's achievements and I admirehis philantrhopic work, I just don't agree with his representation of black men and relationships in his work. My problem with Mr. Perry's work is that most women are always trying to sell me on the idea that Tyler Perry understands women's pain and can articulate that pain in the most artistic way. I say if you want to find a man who can relate to human pain, please read a book by Paulo Coelho (I suggest starting with "The Alchemist").
From my perspective, Mr. Perry's characters are usually one dimensional, especially the men. I don't personally know any man under the age of 70 who likes his work, and I can venture to say Mr. Perry doesn't care. He writes, directs and produces for women only, as if to say, " I can relate to your pain. Let God and me help you through these hard times."
Well, what about men's pain? I'm raising boys and if I believed that every black man was either abusive, a buffoon, or a blue collar working man who saves the day, my world would be limited to a Tyler Perry play, movie or sitcom. BTW, why is the blue collar man always an afterthought? It seems that the women in his movies are always going after men that are emotionally unavailable orphysically abusive. Yet, a good guy has to work hard to earn her love. There is always some good looking guy who comes in and saves the day. Also, please stop throwing in eye candy to distract us from the truth.
Although in reality there are men like Tyler Perry's characters, there are also men who are confident, self-aware and emotionally healthy. These men are rarely seen in Mr. Perry's work. His characters are caricatures of men and represent a percentage of dysfunctional men.
As a mom of boys, I feel obligated to stand up for boys and men who don't really get a fair share in Tyler Perry's work.
I think it's time we saw more black men in a positive light and it would be great if Tyler Perry would have a coming of age movie about a black boy that doesn't just focus on drugs and violence.