I went and saw Tyler Perry’s new movie “Good Deeds” on Saturday night. Given my distaste for offerings from Tyler Perry Studios I was surprised that I got talked into it; my lack of like for his movies, and my amazement that Perry apparently didn’t know that Adam Sandler made a movie called “Mr. Deeds” only a few years back, though is tempered and equaled by my love for the guy’s drive and hustle so I went to check it out with a couple of people. After the movie, aside from thinking to myself, “Meh, it was a’ight”, was the overwhelming thought that prevailed in my head:
Tyler Perry is a master manipulator.
The man is a king level exploiter.
He is Reverend Ike with film equipment.
I don’t believe that problems are race specific, there isn’t one problem that happens just to Blacks, or just to Whites, or just to folk of Asian descent, problems of all types can happen to all people at any time. However…there are some problems that are more prevalent in one race of people than another. And your man, Tyler Perry, knows that. One of the biggest critiques that I read regarding Tyler Perry films is that, except for small details here and there, he is telling the same story over and over again. I was amongst those that echoed this notion about Perry films but then I remembered something about McDonald’s.
McDonald’s knows their audience. They know people will always make children, so they have the Happy Meal, the kids’ meal that has been imitated by every fast food chain in the world. They know people like the Big Mac, so they don’t change anything about it which is why generations of people can sing the “Two all beef patties, special sauce, etc…” song even though “all beef” has been debatable for some time. They know their French Fries are addictive and incredibly tasty which is why they haven’t changed unlike, Burger King, Wendy’s, and everyone else switching up their formulas trying to put a dent into McDonalds’ French fry market share. Tyler Perry is just like McDonald’s.
I went to the movie with a friend that happens to be a single Mom. There were several women in the theater that had their children in tow, I’ll assume based on social stats that at least 30% of them were single Moms and have the stereotypical Black single Mom issues: bills too high, money too short, low self esteem, men no good/beat me/cheated on me. Now, the focal point of the movie was Perry’s character, Wesley, but I challenge that the main character of the movie was Lindsay, the single mother who went through 2 lifetime’s worth of issues in about a 12 minute span in the movie. And that’s when Perry gets to fuel his evil sorcerer manipulator persona. You’ve got 400 women, 398 of them Black, captive in a theater, the rest of the audience is made up of men that either got coerced to attend the movie by a woman or are trying to earn points enough to see the woman they attended the movie with sans clothing at some point much like in the case HERE, and these women are being forced fed via big screen these race prevalent issues in rapid fire succession inducing a chorus of “Ooo, Girl” and “Ooh, no he didn’t” and “Oh no, not her baby!” until when Perry has wrung out and melodrama’ed these women into absolute submission by the time he gets to his heart wrenchingest scene the 400 women have been reduced to sobbing, tissue grabbing messes. I had to make sure my friend I went with was okay before asking for more popcorn; she and every woman on my row was having a real intense moment for this particular character that was down so low at one point that any semblance of a happy ending would have been okay. If she had gotten a free bus pass and a pack of Twizzlers at the conclusion of the movie it would have drawn applause based on all she had lost so no wonder when the movie ended the way it did the women were hooting and cheering like me at a Falcons game.
Find your audience where they are, grab them, relate to them, and don’t let them go. What Perry lacks in filmmaking and scriptwriting acumen he makes up for in this mantra. I think that he had every woman completely relating to the problem of this single mother, and every single woman/mother he has ever written and cast for, believing that this character was them, or their sister/sista, or someone they knew because they share similar issues. That’s the formula that he sticks with, that’s the formula he’s good at, that’s the formula that has a lot of people racing to the flicks to see his movies the moment they come out. And that’s why Tyler Perry is good with me; that’s why I no longer gripe about Perry movies, they aren’t for me (though I really appreciate Gabrielle Union’s scene in that black dress and those heels – my God!) This movie proved that there is no harm in sticking with what makes you successful regardless of how badly people want you to change. Perry while not a master yet of the film craft (though this was a good effort) definitely has mastered not only the hustle of making and producing films when everyone has told you no but also mastered the knowledge of his crowd…and more importantly how to keep them coming back for more of the same McDonald’s french fries.
~thanks for reading 🙂
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I have to admit, I’ve never seen a Tyler Perry movie (I don’t think …). There have been a few I wanted to see, but I get to the theater rarely and by the time they’re on DVD, I forget I wanted to see them. It’s a vicious cycle.
But what bugs me about him is that he has a whole series of movies about a character named Medea. And I know they’re not based on Greek mythology, but the fact is that name comes from Greek mythology. And the Medea of Greek mythology was angry at her husband Jason (of Argonaut and Golden Fleece fame) for cheating on her, so as revenge, she killed their children, made a stew from their dead bodies and fed it to Jason. For the life of me, I can’t imagine why anyone would choose that name for a character unless it was a character who everyone should hate …
Hey Renee…thanks for stopping by and reading. And just in time for Black History month…here is your Black History lesson for the day!!
In our culture (Black/African American) Madea is a term of endearment usually pointed at a grandmother or the family matriarch. Madea, also spelled MuhDea, is short for Mother Dear. There are several people at my church that call their grand or great grandmother, “Madea”, not my family though, we opted for Granny. 🙂
And there’s your Black History lesson for the day **cue “One To Grow On” music** 🙂
Well that makes sense then. But, still, when I see that name, all I can think about is that myth!
Mm.. Renee, I think you may be thinking a bit much into the picking of the name for that character. In a lot of AA families the grandmother is typically called something other than “granny” i.e., Me-ma, Nana, Mimi, GiGi, and Ma-dear often shortened as “Madea”
I don’t think Greek mythology was a part of his thinking in that character just using something common that AA people could/would relate to as Skrap discusses in this blog.
Personally not a fan of TP because of the common denominator, although many women can relate to these stories, there are many others of us who cannot relate and are just plain tired of seeing s.o.s. on the big screen!
No McDonald’s fries for me!
Well said skrap! I love Tyler Perry’s hustle and determination to tell the stories he wants to tell; however, his movies SUCK! I try not to be too analytical when watching them, but it just irks me the way the stories always seem to grab at the lowest hanging fruit of emotions. The characters never seem to be developed enough and I’m tired of seeing the same story told over and over again.
I understand that he knows his audience, but now that he has them; why not take them higher?
Thanks for coming by Jeniece! We agree there. His filmaking is growing, you can tell that, but it always comes back to the same formula. You’re beating me to the punch a little bit in the vein of taking his audience higher. I plan to write on that very thing based on a conversation that was on my Facebook page the other night.
Renee, are you sure you’re not thinking of MEDUSA? the woman with the serpent dreds?
Thanks for stopping by and reading, JT! And, no, Medea, not Madea, was a character in Greek mythology separate from Medusa.
And as a point of disclosure I’m not taking shots at people who cry in movies.
…Every time Mufasa dies in Lion King….yeah, that’s all I’mma say.
Eh, ok, but I still think that exploiting for personal gain – I mean identifying with? – the struggles that are stereotypically associated with your own race is a little grimy. Especially if that’s ALL you do. Good thoughts, but I’m still with Spike on this issue.
Grimy indeed…and while I agree with what Spike is trying to say, I would be more apt to be fully on board with him if he would turn down the Brooklyn and say it tactfully. Additionally, it would help if he put out a good movie of his own at some point rather than resting on laurels.
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