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Spike Lee and Tyler Perry, two of the biggest Black names in Hollywood, are now at peace, however, it wasn’t long ago that Lee criticized Perry’s filmmaking, labeling it “coonery and buffoonery.”
Per The Wrap, newsman Chris Wallace and host of Who’s Talking to Chris Wallace on CNN/HBO Max, brought up the past feud between Tyler Perry and Spike, ignited by the Madea character – or caricature – that made Perry famous.
Aside from books like The Madea Factory, most moviegoers, media pundits and journalists have not offered a harsh critique of Perry, however, Lee, like myself, saw something more damning in the characters portrayed than what simply met the eye.
As a creator of highly consumed Black content, many artists – knowingly or not – speak for people who are unable to speak for themselves and the depictions of Black folks in Madea stage plays seemed to leave audiences in either a cringeworthy grimace or side-splitting laughter.
Perry explains his motivations, “For me, I love the movies that I’ve done because they are the people that I grew up with that I represent and they, like, my mother, would take me in the projects with her on the weekends, she played cards with these women.”
“Most of them have 12th-grade education, but their stories and how much they loved each other and how when they get sad about something and others would come in and make a joke. I’m five years old on the floor with my Matchbox cards,” says Perry.
Perry added that within his stories is a history that he doesn’t want to neglect because it has affected millions of Black people.
“I was in a masterclass for my life, so when someone says this is this your harkening back to a point of our life that we don’t want to talk about it, we don’t want the world to see, you’re dismissing the stories of millions and millions of Black people.”
“And that’s why I think it’s been so successful because it resonates with a lot of us who know these women in these experiences and Uncle Joe and so on and so forth,” explains Perry.
Spike Lee and Tyler Perry have built tables big enough for everyone to eat at
While Tyler Perry movies and Spike Lee joints have very different characters who tell very different stories, both have proven to be box office giants and titans of the film industry. In screenwriting, a popular saying is “write what you know” and both have done just that and even expanded outside of their expected subject matter to equally glowing and lukewarm reviews.
As pioneers in their own right, a beef between the two does little to move the culture forward and even though a collaboration is unlikely, both their careers have helped pave the way for so many underrepresented artists and actors who may have never gotten their Hollywood break.