Sunday, December 19, 2010
SPIKE VS TYLER
I became a filmmaker because of Spike Lee and I started out writing, directing and producing theater like Tyler Perry. So I will start out with saying that I respect both of them as black filmmakers. For me as a filmmaker I would love to have the monetary success of Tyler Perry(Estimated $375 million) and open my own studio while making movies like Spike Lee.(Estimated $50 million)
In 2001 while in undergraduate work in Political Science and African American studies at Suny New Paltz I began working as a production assistant with dreams of making a movie like “Malcolm X” or “Jungle Fever.” I use to say "well I’m no Spike Lee" and to the actors I would say "that you are no Denzel." Spike was what I aspired to be as a filmmaker for years. So it was bitter- sweet when Spike criticized Perry.
Spike said "Breaking records but we could do better. That's just my opinion. I'm a huge basketball fan and when I watch the games on TNT I see these two ads for these two shows and I'm scratching my head, ya know? We got a black president. Are we going back to Mantan Moreland and Sleep N' Eat?" (transcript from 40 acres.com)
Perry’s characters are stereotypical and sometimes degrading, but the question is, is it funny and worth the possibly damage to the collective black character? If Tyler Perry’s depiction of Madea and Mr. Brown are funny, really depends on who you ask.
I have to admit that I enjoyed his first movie “Diary of a Mad Black Women” because I thought it was entertaining. However, is entertainment the only thing that is important? I believe the message is important and once Tyler became popular and more financially successful he really should have hung up the dress and focused on making movies that are more responsibly, when it comes to the fragile black image.
However, he is an independent filmmaker like myself and Spike Lee and no one will tell me or I’m sure Mr. Lee what movies we should come out with. Contrary to anyone’s belief Spike is not the police for what is right for black American and what should not be shown. And this is sobering for me because I love Spike Lee movies and agree with his comment, while supporting Tyler Perry’s ability to do what the hell he wants. If people continue to buy tickets for his movies and purchase DVD’s then he will continue to make the kind of movies that he likes. Tyler has a fan base just like Spike and they ultimately determine to some degree what kind of movies these filmmakers come out with. I too have said in my previous blog on Black Hollywood that I have movie ideas that may not ever find an audience. So no matter what I think, the market will determine if I continue on as a filmmaker.
Who’s fault is it that Tyler Perry is wearing a dress and making people laugh at the possibly expense of our black image? It’s part and partial our fault because we consume the product. In 2007 I came out with my first solo theater project called “The Basement” and comedy/ drama about a group of friends who hang out in a basement and seem to get in a lot of trouble. I modeled the characters based on people I knew and mixed the comedy with serious commentary on controversial issues. In an recent interview with Tyler Perry I heard him say a similar thing stating that he makes the people laugh so that he can deal with issues of love, faith, and God. So maybe Tyler is laughing at us all because he is the one with $375 million, his own studio and a private jet. Spike has some money also, at a net worth of $50 million but Perry has 7X that amount. So has the public spoken and said that they rather Madea than Mars Blackman. I believe there is room for both and I’m hoping one of them hires me to be an assistant director or professional coffee getter on their next movie, because I’m a little to broke to be so righteous in my commentary.
Posted by Lawrencebcp at 10:14 PM