For Those Who Go Beyond Boundaries

“Cross…Alex Cross”

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Why is supporting creativity that’s different from what we’ve seen in the past a bad thing?

A friend of mine on Facebook tagged me in a posting recently that featured Mr. Tyler Perry. A very controversial, influential public figure and  house hold name within the African American community.

The posting read (and this is just a brief breakdown):

“If ALEX CROSS BOMBS at the box office (which it is destined to do) would it be safe to assume that TYLER PERRY will revert back to his comfort zone as a DRAG QUEEN? Did I say DRAG QUEEN? I meant MADEA?”

I giggled upon reading the posting, because I knew not to take it serious. He’s a good friend of mine and we  tend to go back and forward with one another over Tyler and his movies, shows and plays constantly. Thus, in the spirit of humility and good humor, we engaged in a long thread posting discussing Mr. Perry’s newest venture.

People have asked me in the past “Why are you such a staunch supporter of Tyler Perry?”. They don’t understand why I stand firm in my stance that his creativity is unique to who he is, and that his success deserves to be celebrated within the African American community. The conversations I’ve had with people about Tyler have in most cases become heated, and sparked a passionate exchange of dialog that have lead people to accuse me of having a fetish for men in drag and even asked if Tyler Perry and I where having a secret love affair (that’s the nice way of putting it).

But I find peace in understanding that I can’t do anything more about their misguided assumptions other than let it go, because the ignorance of some people (mainly many black people) is in most cases irreversible.

Some of us are so caught up on placing labels and stereotyping others (one another) that we don’t realize we’re subconsciously engage in the same form of discrimination against one another that we feel is being projected upon us by the elite and privileged of our society.

And as I venture into authoring a book that high lights the African American communities inability to find the courage to come together and support one another, I feel that various key points need to be made about Mr. Tyler Perry and his success with the Medea Character, while making “us” as a people aware of how bitter, resentful and slanderous we look when we speak ill of a black man that’s worked hard to get to where he is at this point in life. Because I believe that when we see such madness; we’re witnessing first hand how that particular person is spending more time and energy ostracizing and being critical of an individual they hardly know, vrs. wishing the best and nothing but success for that same individual that has possibly done more for the black community than themselves.

I may not like nor support everything this man does; for example I don’t watch his sitcoms because for me personally they’re not funny. But I watch his plays and his movies and I strongly support his efforts as an African American in Hollywood, striving to bring forward opportunities to people of color in the industry that I seek to break into. His trials and tribulations will one day be my own when I make it known that I put God first in my life and that my materials will have a faith based message that most won’t like nor agree with.

Don’t get it twisted, I don’t feel that there’s anything wrong with critiquing one’s work; lets be honest, when you put your work out there for all to see; you leave ourself open to both positive and negative criticism.

But I do strongly feel that there’s a fine line between providing constructive and creativity critiques of one’s craft; and simply tearing someone down. In which I see many with in our community willingly engaging in when it comes to Tyler Perry. Many of the critiques given towards this man are personal in nature, and you feel it when you mention his name in a crowd of black people. The mer utterance of his name gives birth to a heated controversial debate; where on one hand you have people who may not agree with his work, but still support his craft. While on the other hand (to the extremes) you’ll witness “crabs” completely destroying him, verbally assaulting his man-hood by making homosexual accusations (calling him gay), saying he’s a drag queen, even going so far as to wishing death upon him.


What has he done to you personally, that’s bad enough for you to wish death upon him?

My friend and many black men that I talk too states that they’re not ‘hating’ on Tyler Perry per say. They insert this convenient disclaimer that states they admire his bravery and can relate to his life story, in efforts to sugar-coat the adverse remarks that follow. To not make themselves look  hateful, that claim to support the works he’s done within the community (mainly  his philanthropy); they just despise the amount of times that he has revisited the MADEA character, or the fact that she’s even a figure within our community. Or they despise the fact that he is far more recognizable to the masses when dressed as his ‘drag queen’ alter-ego.

They make it known to me that their distain for the Meada character is not a result of a psycho-cultural “crabs in a bucket” mentality (it couldn’t be). Because A. you can’t support everything labeled ‘black’ (in which I agree) and B. If that were the case stars like EDDIE MURPHY, WILL SMITH, and DENZEL WASHINGTON would not hold such high regard within the African American community, or have a place in their beloved classic DVD collections. But they make it known that their over all disapproval for his craft is a result of a lack of technique in film editing, or the fact that the stereotypical characters have strong drawing power and pretty much emasculates black men.

Many of my brothers feel that “Big Mama” and “Shanany” (played Martin Lawrence) and “Wanda” (played by Jamie Foxx) are just as guilty when it comes to the homicide of the black male masculinity.  The idea that African Americans are forced to utilize a man dressed as a woman to spread a positive message of spirituality, pride, social responsibility and love to the black masses is shameful. In which to some degree I’m in complete agreement with them on this matter. Because it shouldn’t take a man wearing a dress to bring forward an accepted message of spirituality and self-evlauation. But what many black men don’t get (nor care to understand) is that Tyler Perry’s works and “Good Deeds” for the African American community goes beyond wearing thigh highs and a girdle.

Tyler Perry has done many great works within the community. Just to list a few:

A. He’s provided funding to help people build homes for Katrina survivors in a new neighborhood designated as “Perry Place”. The same as the famed actor Brad Pitt

B. He’s donated $1 million dollars to the NAACP in celebration of its 100th anniversary; which happens to be one of the largest single donation from a private individual to a civil rights organization. Additionally providing support to Covenant House in Atlanta by donating $110,000 to the agency.

C. This one is near and dear to my heart, because I’m an advocate for victims of rape/sexual assault. In April 2011, the organization MaleSurvivor received its first significant grant from the Tyler Perry Foundation; which allowed them to expand their world-renowned Weekends of Recovery program by adding new facilitators, support staff, and expanding scholarship offerings. Following the Sandusky scandal that broke in November 2011, MaleSurvivor responded by reaching out to Penn State, to offer any help it could provide by holding training sessions for Penn State psychological staff.  They have a documentary titled “Boys and Men Healing”  that I strongly recommend many men set their pride aside and watch. For the simple fact that male on male rape/sexual assault is serious! Its one of the most under-reported and less likely to bring forward prosecution forms of sexual assault; because most men refuse to tell anyone when this traumatic event has occurs.  MaleSurvior has greatly increased its use of social media to increase awareness and spread it’s message of healing and hope to survivors everywhere, and they have the full support of Mr. Tyler Perry, whom was a victim of molestation himself. And it take courage for a man of any caliber (famous or not) to admit to having experienced such a horrific ordeal.

And to be honest, once he made this publicly know, its as if his rejection from black men increased, due to the feelings of homophobia that runs deep within the African American community. They label him gay because he admit to being a victim O_o?

D. Tyler Perry’s “GOOD DEEDS” movie was linked too the “Good Deeds:Great Needs” initiative that provided support to Covenant House, a non-profit organization that provides assistance for homeless youth. Through, Good Deeds:Great Needs collected unused gift cards and donated all the proceeds to the Covenant House. Which lead Lionsgate to take it a step further and make a financial donation to Covenant House for every share of the GOOD DEEDS movie trailer. Every time someone watched the trailer, Lionsgate donated a proceed of the profits from the promotions and if I’m not mistaken the movie itself to the mentioned organization.

My support for this man goes beyond him wearing a dress or doing what many call ‘drag’; for the simple fact that He’s doing nothing no different than Flip Wilson, Eddie Murphy, Ving Ramies, Robbin Williams, Jamie Foxx, Martin Lawrence, Shawn and Marlon Waynes, Wesley Snipes, Robert Downy Jr., Dustin Hoffman, Patrick Swayze, John Leguizamo, Tom Hanks, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, And Will Smith to name a few. They’ve all either played a man in drag or a homosexual on screen to either increase the comedic value of their craft, add drama to their character by playing a gay man or made the choice to create a female character that was in most cases very stereotypical and politically incorrect. Yet, we love their characters (call them classics) and dispute, refute and rebuke Tyler Perry’s because it’s a character that promotes the gospel.

Tyler Perry’s materials may not be for everyone. There are people in this world who’re famous of doing less than what he’s accomplish (the Kardashins and Paris Hilton for example) But no matter how I feel about a persons craft, I’ve learned during my spiritual journey that its best to pray that he/she improves and possibly provide a product that I may enjoy. Because lets be honest, being overly critical of a specific individual is not only ugly and petty, but its unnecessary and uncalled for (its just not a good look on you).

People have stated they want to see him step out the dress and do something different; well now that he has the same people who’re critical of him for not doing anything different are the same people hoping this new movie “Alex Cross” flops at the box office.

And this is why ‘we’ as a people have issues coming together in support of one another, because we prefer to pigon-hold people into what we think they are, or the limits in which we feel they should not surpass.

These critical people complain about the repetitive nature of all his movies and plays; but now that he’s doing something different, they complain about the fact that it was him who was picked for the leading roll in an action/drama/suspense/thriller. Wishing the worst on the poor guy, which to me signifies a serious need for our black men (and some black women) to really and truly evaluate why they don’t like him. If the man drew millions to Medea, he’s created a foundation that’s allowed him to venture past that character and do other things as well as give back to the community (which is something that I advise all of “us” do).

Tyler Perry doesn’t have to ask permission from the African American community to do something different. If he chose to do so, he has that right. You either like him or you don’t. Either way; how you feel about him has no bearing on his over all achievements, support and success. And if we’re going to hold Tyler Perry accountable for the representation of black male masculinity, then we have to hold ALL of our successful black men accountable; and this includes T.I., Lil Wayne, “Pac Man” Jones, both Jessy Jackson Jr. and Sr, Tikki Barber, Kobe Bryant, Tiger Woods, Flavor Flav, Lil Scrappy “Rat Face” and Chad Ochocinco.

If Tyler Perry is Tomfoolery and Buffoonery; than so is Love and Hip Hop, Basketball Wives, and almost every rap video we’ve seen to date.


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