by G. Brown
Movie Mogul Tyler Perry should be relishing in the release of his latest film “A Fall From Grace”, but instead, he’s beating back accusations that his films exploit women.
In a recent interview, while on a junket to promote his latest Netflix film, Perry said, “I’m always trying to send a message that you don’t have to deal with this shit. It’s not about making money off of a woman’s pain — it is about telling a story. And I wish that people, especially black women, would get off the fact of saying, ‘Oh, he’s making money off of black women.”
Perry’s strong defense just seemed to offend even more critics and according to CinemaBlend, that’s led to the publishing of “some scathing commentaries” such as one written by the DailyBeast. In their article, the Daily Beast says “Perry, while offering lucrative work to supremely talented black actors who face racist discrimination throughout the rest of the industry, actually does a major disservice to his employees; he sells out his leading ladies for cold hard cash, and without the input of actual black women writers and producers who may have the insight to tell more dignified or honest stories.”
The article concludes with a critical condemnation that Perry reproduces “prejudices primarily about black women his audiences may or may not already hold, Perry does not simply capitalize but proselytizes….”
Perry has filled a void that few were looking to fill in Hollywood, by writing about the Black experience and giving audiences stories and characters similar to the ones we all grew up around. He’s single-handedly put more Black actors and singers to work than any other writer/director…and that was before he turned an old military base into his movie studios. His 330 acre Perry Studios in southwest Atlanta was an economic boom to an area that badly needed the stimulus.
No one is denying that Perry is giving back to the community, but is he hurting the community by telling stories that always show Black women in abusive relationships at the hands of parents, family members or drugs of choice?
Is what Perry doing any different than the Blaxploitation films of the ’70s like Richard Roundtree’s”Shaft” or “Sweet Sweetback”. These films introduced actors like Roundtree, Jim Kelly, Fred Williamson(“Three the Hard Way”) and Tamara Dobson(“Cleopatra Jones”) to Black stars who were not getting a chance for bit parts in White written films.
Blaxploitation films embraced everything about Black culture and that included the good and the bad. Heavy on slang, the dialogue often included a lot of profanity, racist terms like “cracker” and “honkey” and plenty of sexist epithets like ‘bi**h’, ‘whore’ and ‘sl*t’. Plots all revolved around stereotypes of drug dealers and prostitutes. Violence was over the top with male appendages being cut off and placed in jars. And women were often over-sexualized and objectified. Actress Pam Grier was a stunning beauty who won third place in 1967s Miss Universe Pageant. Even in the starring role of 1974’s “Foxy Brown”, she was forced to show her bare breasts in a scene where she raped by White kidnappers after she was drugged.
As raw and horrible as some of the Blaxploitation films sound. those movies are no worse than the pedophilia, violent, rape centric movies being turned out by directors like Quentin Tarrantino. Not that two wrongs can make a right, but if Perry didn’t produce these shows and movies, would anyone? Would critics be silenced if these movies were made by Tarrantino, Michael Bey, Ron Howard or Spielberg?