A columnist, reporter and TV correspondent for the RedEye who believes pop culture can teach us something. Yes, even you, LiLo.
I am fully prepared to agree to disagree with you.
I am writing this post, having freshly argued with a very good friend on this very topic. I tried to avoid it, hoping someone would speak up about it. And alas, I have not seen my perspective out there in any discernible way, so here we go…
The blogosphere is abuzz about Aaron McGruder going ham on Tyler Perry, the controversial playwright-turned-director with the golden touch. Though I myself have eviscerated Perry for his corny, often over-the-top films and TV shows and absolutely heart McGruder, I have to say in this case….I was not amused by several aspects of the send-up that aired in the most recent episode of one of my fave shows.
Pop the trunk, and let the fisticuffs fly.
Let’s start with what I did like.
Loved, loved, loved the beginning of the episode, where McGruder astutely mocked Perry’s “light-skinned hero,” a constant in many of the movies. I laughed out loud at his faux Shemar Moore and the old “dark-skinned” villain from “Law & Order” battling it out for the plucky heroine’s affections. McGruder’s formula for Perry reminded me of my own online stage-play generator for Perry, which you can continue to add to right here.
Then, the ep kind of went downhill. Yes, the acerbic cartoonist captured Tyler-tight-ass sweater wearing to a tee. Also on point: his jokes about Perry force-feeding a strain of prosperity Christianity down his audiences’ throats. “Dancing Ma Dukes” with her bodacious buxom and ig’nant one-liners…yessir, a page ripped from a Perry script.
But for the rest of the joke to be that Perry is a closeted gay man using his power and prestige to trick hetero actors into making out with him, or more…I think that McGruder stepped over the line. I understand that some people have a problem with Perry chiefly because they think he emasculates himself — and other black men– with the imagery in his films. While I find him dressed as the tough-talking Madea a lazy cinematic device, my issue isn’t the dress, it’s more the in-your-face foolish antics that usually have nothing to do with the main story.
I don’t find Madea is an assault on black male masculinity. There are plenty of virile hunks of all hues in Hollywood, and for every Martin Lawrence, Flip Wilson and Miguel Nunez Jr., you can consider Robin Williams aka Mrs. Doubtfire , Dustin Hoffman aka Tootsie, Rob Schneider in “The Hot Chick,” and Jim Carrey as “Vera.” Respected actor Tom Hanks even did some dress time with “Bosom Buddies,” for entire seasons. Why is Perry being singled out? It’s not his fault he has found an audience amused by, and eager for, more Madea. He is no more at fault than the fanboys who demand more (and seemingly, worse) “Transformers” sequels.
So for all the “no homo,” a questionable hip-hop phrase, uttered throughout the “Pause” episode, it certainly seemed like Perry’s sexuality was definitely in the crosshairs.
You might not agree with Perry’s choice of scripts, characters or directing, but whatever kind of person he is into, is none of our business…nor is it McGruder’s. And I’m not buying the argument that the homophobia is limited to the Riley character, known for his wholesale immersion in hip-hop culture and its anti-gay undercurrent. The entire character created in Perry’s…um…honor embodied horrible stereotypes about men, particularly the “down low” brothers unearthed by Oprah and others.
Okay. (Taking deep breath.) I’m through. Talk to me: Do you think that I am reading too much into it or misunderstanding McGruder’s point? Did you like/love/hate the “Pause” episode?
I realize my peeps might have strong opinions on either side, so let’s try to keep the discussion civil, savvy?
Update at 6:38 p.m. on 6/24: Poster NatalieYMoore offers a glimpse into a Perry critique executed almost flawlessly. Check the link to this New Yorker piece out here, as well as this take from NewBlackMan . On a side note, remember the vitriol Roger Ebert of the Sun-Times received when he had a go at knocking the cinematic sense into Perry fans? How times have changed…wonder what would happen if he had written that about the most recent film foray.