While Tyler Perry and Spike Lee are fine now, the two filmmakers were at odds over the former’s work for a time. Lee called out Perry’s Madea character for being a stereotype of Black women, and Perry pushed against the Do the Right Thing director’s criticism at the time. The two men have worked out their issues since then, but that doesn’t mean Lee’s past criticism is water under the bridge to others. When the Madea criticisms came up again, Perry got real about them.
The A Jazzman’s Blues director opened again about the Oscar-winning director’s past comments on the interview series Who’s Talking to Chris Wallace? (via People). Tyler Perry and Spike Lee squashed their disagreement over Madea a few years ago with Perry naming a soundstage at his studio after the Da 5 Bloods filmmaker in 2019. It appeared Lee’s past comment didn’t bother him, as he mentioned having “heard it all” before about the character. Perry addressed the lingering Madea discourse by saying:
There's a certain part of our society, especially Black people in the culture, that they look down on certain things within the culture. For me, I love the movies that I've done because they are the people that I grew up with that I represent. Like, my mother would take me in the projects with her on the weekends. She'd play cards with these women. Most of them didn't have a 12th grade education, but their stories and how much they loved each other and how when they'd get sad about something another would come in and make a joke. I'm 5 years old on the floor with my Matchbox cards. I was in a masterclass for my life.
Tyler Perry has mentioned multiple times how influential certain female figures were in his work. It’s not surprising given Madea was based on his late grandmother. Of course, listening to his mother and her friends’ conversations can be heard and seen in the female characters seen in his films and TV shows. So he’s drawing from those experiences rather than creating a stereotype of Black women, which he's been criticized for over the years.
While Perry is used to the critique of his work, he felt critics were ignoring the real stories from a certain segment of Black culture. The filmmaker even brought up the idea of ignoring past traumas to move forward without addressing them. The A Madea Homecoming star opened up about tapping into certain aspects in his work, saying:
So when someone says, 'You're harkening back to a point of our life that we don't want to talk about it or we don't want the world to see,' you're dismissing the stories of millions and millions of Black people. That's why I think it's been so successful because it resonates with a lot of us who know these women in these experiences and Uncle Joe and so on and so forth.
Perry just wrote what he knew. He grew up surrounded by those from a lower class dealing with everyday life. That’s just part of his work as he knew courting Black audiences was important to his career success. It’s no secret his stories and portrayals have forged a still lingering stigma in Hollywood. Despite his uphill battle in Hollywood, Tyler Perry has managed to keep going, and he recently shared his his feelings about adding diverse voices in film and television.
You can currently watch A Jazzman’s Blues , which has received a mixed reception from critics, with a Netflix subscription. Once you’re done with the musical melodrama, check out what other fall 2022 movies are left to arrive.