Tyler Perry is an undisputed success when it comes to his film empire. He has made millions off his stageplays, movies, and television shows. He has massive deals with BET and Netflix and owns one of the largest film studios in the world used to film the majority of the Marvel Cinematic Universe films. With that kind of resume, you would think his films would be loved by critics, but it is the opposite. Perry has managed to achieve all of this on the back of some notoriously divisive work. While everyone can agree he is successful, not everyone agrees that he is a good writer or producer, or even actor. What does Perry feel about his critics?
Last year Tyler Perry received an honorary Oscar for his incredible career. The honorary Oscars are geared towards people who may not always appear in the major categories but still are successful and doing amazing work in Hollywood. This award made a lot of sense for Tyler Perry because, like the award, his work is catered to people who are often overlooked by Hollywood and the film industry. This being black people, particularly those in the deep south and church-driven communities. More specifically, his films are aimed directly at black women.
Unfortunately, Tyler Perry’s films are often looked down upon because of their simplicity and knack for driving home troubling stereotypes of the black woman and black culture. His characters are often depicted as caricatures, most famously Madea, who spoofs the mammy archetype. In addition to this, Perry serves as the sole writer on all his work, making it often repetitive and overtly dramatic. A lot of his shoots are often rushed as well, with mics appearing visibly in the shots. People make fun of his movies because of the overacting, the bad wigs, and the bad costuming.
It’s easy to be hard on him for cutting so many corners, but it might be one of the main reasons why he is so successful. Tyler Perry started off as a homeless playwright who spent almost a decade in Atlanta perfecting his first work. He registered with the community there because the characters felt like locals in the area. He also would double down on church values and include big musical numbers and humor to connect with his audiences. He had to learn how to do all of this alone with no help because no one believed in him for a long time.
When Tyler Perry finally made the leap to the big screen in 2005, his “do it all myself” attitude followed. While the humor and musical numbers of his plays did not translate to the big screen, fans still showed up in droves for this new, more serious take on his work. Perry continued to spearhead everything as he always has and has continued to pocket millions despite turning in rushed films with little development.
People came for Perry in 2020 when he posted a stack of scripts and boasted about being the sole writer on all his work. At the time, he’d just announced a major deal with BET and was on the verge of a Netflix deal, and fans thought maybe now is the time to focus on quality instead of quantity since his opportunities are secure. Perry’s attitude has remained, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Video compilations of questionable acting and writing have become the norm following his television block on BET, which includes The Oval, Sistahs, and Bruh. A particularly popular scene includes a character getting punch and spinning around like a cartoon before falling out.
Perry recently did an interview with Vanity Fair, where he addressed some of the things people have to say about the quality of his films and how he runs his empire. Perry was asked if he read any of the reviews for his first film Diary of a Mad Black Woman. He said he has not, and when questioned why Perry admitted that they don’t matter to him. For Perry, the only reviews that matter would be from the people who watch his films. “If people can’t relate, how can you review?” he asked. He goes on to say, “I don’t give a damn about them tomatoes.”
Do you think Perry should continue making his films as he already does, or is it time to focus on making real quality cinema?