Tyler Perry Speaks On "The Problem With All-Star African American Casts..."

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by Tambay A. Obenson
January 19, 2012 3:28 PM
50 Comments
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Black cinema's self-appointed preacherman got back on his steeple 2 days ago to preach to his congregation, releasing another one of his messages to his fans, via his website. This one titled The problem with all-star African American Casts... 

Yes, Mr Perry joins George Lucas in the Red-Tails-or-die lament, retelling Lucas' hardluck story about how studios weren't interested in funding his all-black WWII action movie, and encouraging his fans to go see the film this weekend.

He starts his missive with an exclamation mark, stating, "Unfortunately, movies starring an all African American cast are on the verge of becoming extinct. THAT'S RIGHT, EXTINCT!"

Too bad Tyler Perry melodramas aren't becoming extinct. Now THAT would be something worth writing about my friends! :)

But Mr Perry, one way that you of all people could help ensure that movies starring all African American casts don't become entirely extinct is to use some of that money and power you now have accumulated, to help finance and/or produce films by black filmmakers with all black casts - especially up-and-comers.

We The Peeples was a start (although we haven't seen anything of it yet), but there's a lot of work to be done; and you sir are in a position to make a dent in that load. The mission is yours, should you choose to accept it...

Ahhh, da burden Tyler... DA BURDEN!

Read Perry's latest message in full below:

Unfortunately, movies starring an all African American cast are on the verge of becoming extinct. THAT'S RIGHT, EXTINCT! Ask any executive at a Hollywood Studio why, and most of them will tell you one of two things. The first thing they'll say is thatDVD sales have become very soft, so it's hard for a movie with an all black cast to break-even. Secondly they'll say, most movies are now dependent on foreign sales to be successful and most "black" movies don't sell well in foreign markets. So what that means is you will begin to see less and less films that star an all black cast. Isn't that sad in a 2012 America? Somewhere along the way we still haven't realized that we are more alike then not.

I must tell you that I have been very fortunate to work with a studio that sees the value in my type of storytelling and filmmaking. As well as having you, an audience of all races of people, who have stood by me arm and arm. It has helped me navigate through some pretty rough waters.

I thought that as black people in Hollywood, this is just our reality, but I quickly realized that this is not racism. What made me realize this is I had a conversation with Mr. Star Wars himself, George Lucas, and he was telling me that he was having the same problem with Red Tails. I was blown away! Red Tails is an important story about, not just black history, but American history about the Tuskegee Airmen. It has an all-star African-American cast, including Cuba Gooding Jr. and Terrence Howard, which opens this Friday. He went on to say that he brought the movie idea of Red Tails to several studios and no one wanted to make this film.... AND THIS IS GEORGE LUCAS! Not to be deterred, he put up his own money, shot the movie then took it back to those same studios, and they wanted nothing to do with it. One of them even refused to see the film, citing the above mentioned problems. So George decided to take a huge risk by entirely funding the movie and releasing it himself. What a guy! For him to believe so strongly in this story is amazing. I think we should pull together and get behind this movie. I really do! Not just African Americans, but all of us. I have seen the movie and screened it here in Atlanta. I loved it and I think you will too. The Tuskegee Airmen, who were at the screening, were so happy that somebody is telling a small part of their story.

It opens this Friday. Please take your kids, you will enjoy it and so will they. There is a lot of action and adventure and also a great history lesson to be learned.

George, I just want to say, thank you for having the courage to do this.

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50 Comments

  • de | March 4, 2012 12:29 AMReply

    Most of these commenters are whites pretending to be black with multiple screennames. The train of thoughts are bias, full of generalizations, and redundant. Just a bunch of racist trolls trying to get their point across. Of course, movies in which blacks are stereotyped and ridiculed will reach a broader audience. Racism sells. Most of the whites on here are jealous of Tyler. They really want to take away his fanbase and thus his profit.

  • JMAC | March 4, 2012 1:04 AM

    Guess again. Most of them are black and not one person. Proof? Search the site for their usernames. They regularly post on numerous topics sometimes in favor of and sometimes against issues in black cinema. Don't sell our race short. We don't all think the same.

  • Medicate Yourself | March 4, 2012 1:01 AM

    No.

  • Liz | January 22, 2012 12:22 PMReply

    VARIETY---- "White" films have it are we to be denied diverse films???
    Tyler Perry is being dammned if he does not fit some standard to represent "Blacks" in a certain manner--- WOW, the burden is on him because (SOME) feel we are unequal in our ability to have a VARIETY because the WHOLE race will be Judged by his Film, come on the burden is not Tyler's. We as a people must realize WE are NOT defined as a "GROUP" WE have individual tastes/Likes. Please STOP piegeon-holeing us. We LOVE VARIETY !!!!!!!

  • Orville | January 21, 2012 8:25 PMReply

    I think black people EXPECT too much from Tyler Perry! Tyler is only one man he is one person he cannot change Hollywood on his own. I think that other black directors have to find their market and find a way to become successful. People want to attack Tyler but his movies have an audience and he makes a lot of money! Hollywood is slowly starting to follow Tyler's formula the problem is the movies are derivative. I think Red Tails at least tries to EXPAND and move beyond comedy. Red Tails isn't perfect though.

  • Donella | January 21, 2012 4:27 PMReply

    I'm glad to see Tyler Perry step up to publicly support Red Tails. In fact, I was pleased to see President and First Lady Obama do the same.

  • Darla & Mark | January 21, 2012 3:32 PMReply

    @AKIMBO
    Yes, in 50 years Tyler Perry will be remembered. As someone who made a lot of money. Not as someone who created quality entertainment.

    Before I even wrote my post I knew some one was going to write exactly what you wrote, you Tyler Perry haters are so predictable, thanks for not letting me down.

    You nor I know what history is going to write regarding Tyler Perry because Tyler is not finish making history, I believe Tyler will go beyond just making movies. You are right he does have a capitalist mind set (Henry Ford), Tyler just may end up owning an extensive enterprise with many tentacle businesses across America.

  • Akimbo | January 22, 2012 2:34 AM

    You have notably refrained from commenting on the quality of his work , so I'm going to consider you on the right side of this argument and mark you down as "confused." However, if you actually are a fan of the man's stuff, then my predictability must have had you laughing your ass off and cheering for more. So you're welcome.

  • stars | January 20, 2012 10:09 PMReply

    It's too bad you trash another black man who is making a difference in the film biz, employing blacks, and making strides towards getting better! You don't just express an opinion - you trash him venomously. I don't understand. This isn't about art anymore it's personal. I've read so many of your articles and it's beat up Tyler Perry no matter what even in the blog or podcasts. It just sounds so personal not like an opinion to depend on for insight into the black diaspora of the film and tv biz. Did he do something personal to you? His films and projects aren't that bad...it's not stephen fetchit. He didn't get wealthy off of white folk support. So the black community at large must be a bunch of buffoons. They made Perry not the mainstream. I don't get the hate Tyler Perry Campaign.

  • Akimbo | January 21, 2012 2:33 PM

    Yes, in 50 years Tyler Perry will be remembered. As someone who made a lot of money. Not as someone who created quality entertainment. He is the innovator of nothing and the rehasher of other people's memorable work. I appreciate his entrepreneurial spirit, but, aside from his diverse casts, have yet to truly enjoy anything he's done...Unless you count the dinner table scene in Why Did I Get Married.

  • Darla & Mark | January 21, 2012 1:25 PM

    When all is said and done fifty years from now history is going to remember Tyler, not Tambay or any other Tyler haters.

  • Clayton | January 20, 2012 11:27 PM

    Well said...

  • Joseph Garrett | January 20, 2012 8:55 PMReply

    Understand, if you all can't support black films, you will not get your indie films financed and budgeted by Hollywood, no time soon. I think you need to understand that Tyler is concious of that fact. I went to several boards where people feel the way y'all do and all I can think is don't expect no big budget black films for a long time.

  • Troy | January 20, 2012 10:53 AMReply

    What are these successful gangster films without major Hollywood actors that black people seem to flock to some of you posters have mentioned?

  • sandra | January 20, 2012 9:43 AMReply

    Is this a trend (a marketing strategy)? All "important"/message movies with a strong black cast must now seek Tyler's seal of approval to take advantage of his fanbase/magical rolodex? The Help, Red Tails, Precious,...

    I'm technically not breaking my self-imposed 2012 ban of zero percent criticism of Tyler. This is just an interesting observation.

  • Darla & Mark | January 20, 2012 10:32 PM

    Tyler fanbase are the new magical negros in hollywood.

  • michael | January 20, 2012 6:34 AMReply

    I have been critical of Tyler Perry's abuse of writers and lack of respect for the guilds that protect them (namely the Writer's Guild of America). Really, that is my only beef with him. But this is the first time I have ever seen him publically support a project he wasn't someone how affiliated with or with Oprah behind it. So I feel that is progress on his part and should be commended. I mean, if you see someone trying to do better, we should encourage that person not continue to bash them. Anybody can bash. If you really want to see change, take the intiative and do something positive or get on board with someone else who is. Tyler Perry is getting on board with George Lucas' plight and telling his massive fan base to do the same. No matter what you think about TP, you can't say this is a negative action. It is a positive action. In our criticism of anyone, especially our own, we should always try to at least be fair and give credit when it is due the same way we dish out the criticism when it's warranted.

  • Joseph Garrett | January 20, 2012 3:46 AMReply

    I'm sorry, but these post about Tyler is making your whole WEB SITE look bad. I thought the purpose of a site like this was to support black filmmakers. Every filmmaker has a different story to tell. Not all are going to be for everyone. I THOUGHT we were suppose to be uplifting artist who create films featuring black people. Now, I see this is a forum for a crabs in a barrel situation. I always tell people, this especially goes for those of you who want to be successful in film, you are not going to get there any quicker and it's not gonna make your work any more valuable by hating on those who have made it and are successful. (for those who hate the word hating, we'll say "being jealous"). I appreciate this site for the great and consistent info, but this I don't need to hear. It's not only Tyler I see y'all bashing on here, it's any black person who actually made it past the indie stage. I just personally get annoyed with this.

  • Clayton | January 23, 2012 10:03 AM

    @Akimbo... My defense of Tyler Perry isn't really about his work. I feel most of you are right about your criticisms about his movies/TV shows. But this post isn't really about his work, is it? This post isn't a review about Good Deeds or The Marriage Counselor, obviously because those films haven't been released yet. It's not even about For Colored Girls or his last Madea movie. This is criticism about him encouraging his fans to see Red Tails. Are you serious? I just can't be a part of it. I'd rather be against it, such hatred. It's gone too far. Sure, his films aren't at the level of The Best Man and such, but films like The Best Man aren't much higher in quality. In fact, TBM is just a step up from TP's best work. So, lets not act like there have been all sorts of masterfully made films coming out of the fertile minds of black filmmakers and Tyler Perry's work just can't compare. We're talking Tyler Perry's work compared to The Best Man and Waiting to Exhale, not his work against Schindler's List and Juno. Let's be real.

  • Akimbo | January 21, 2012 2:26 PM

    What are you doing, Clayton? I'm curious to see. // On the "wah, stop picking on Tyler Perry" front, the man's work is just not good. It's not snobbery to criticize his work; it's discernment. The man gets neither comedy nor drama right. The man is not the first or the best creator of black entertainment, he is merely the most prolific. Compare any of his shows to to Living Single, Martin, Fresh Prince, even One On One, Half-and-Half, Moesha, Eve, Girlfriends, and all the other shows that came on UPN or Fox and you'll find TP lacking. Can you honestly saying any of his movies measure up to black classics like The Best Man, Love Jones, Love and Basketball, The Color Purple, Boyz in the Hood, or anything Spike Lee, Bill Duke, Denzel, Kasi Lemmons have directed? My lists are not comprehensive but I think they make my point. Tyler Perry will be remembered as a moneymaker like Michael Bay or Brett Ratner, but not as a great creator.

  • Clayton | January 20, 2012 11:14 PM

    WOW! I'm with you on this one JOSEPH GARRETT. I was thinking the same think. In fact, I was thinking this for some time now when visiting this site. I appreciate the consistency of their work here on S&A but they don't ever support anything I'm doing, which is all good...

  • Nadine | January 20, 2012 11:09 PM

    @STARS - I'm still waiting for TP fans to explain why TP is worthy OTHER than his being a self-made man and wealthy. I think that would help your arguments. Your "arguments" would also make Robert Johnson somehow worthy of our adulation and he is the devil... I'm suggesting that you all make your arguments CLEAR and varied if you truly want to make a difference here on S&A. If you just want to complain or get something off your chest, more power to ya', but I don't think you're going to move any mountains. I wrote, towards the end of last year, that I don't even open up the Tyler Perry postings because the boards, I could imagine, would be out of control and Tyler Perry fans are NOT going to stop loving Tyler Perry and his detractors are NOT going to stop with their disdain. So what is the point unless someone can get through to the detractors who, on S&A I guess, have the upper-hand. Explain not just what you all perceive to be the problem, but why the detractors claims are unfair or simply wrong. I think it would be a good strategy...and a good dialogue (I'd want to read it).

  • Stars | January 20, 2012 10:16 PM

    Sorry Nadine, but all the negative TP posts are making the site look bad because of the personal attacks and sarcasm. He's sucessful - self made from the dollars of black folk. As if black folk don't know what they're purchasing. So it's condencending, arrogant, and snobbish to think that the staff of Shadow and Act are the only ones that can annoint what's quality black filmmaking and what's not. Look at ALL the posts on TP. It's redundant and irritating. I wholeheartedly agree with Joseph Garrett.

  • Nadine | January 20, 2012 9:19 PM

    *haven't stated*

  • Nadine | January 20, 2012 9:17 PM

    You have every right to believe and feel how you feel about ANYTHING, including Tyler Perry's work, without others prejudging or labeling you just as those who do not agree with Tyler Perry's work also deserve to not be dismissed ("crabs in a barrel" as you stated) because they don't agree with you. Your original statement was dismissive. Akimbo seems to simply be echoing your tone and sentiments.

    I personally believe, after my having only been around here for a couple of months, that the purpose of S&A, is to support Black FILMMAKING which in extension likely to support Black filmmakers, but I thought it was all about the image... filmmaking is about the image and that is what I believe S&A is providing a platform for those who of us, who SUPPORT Black filmmaking, a forum to speak honestly and critique work dealing with "Black" images, not simply a blind celebration of anyone who picks up a camera and places Black people within their lens. This WEB SITE, to me is as close to a place for real dialog amongst those who participate in the industry and those who simply love movies. I, at least, believe it serves a great purpose. I understand you're disappointed in some of the posts regarding Tyler Perry given you are a supporter, but claiming that their TP posts make the whole site look bad, is just wrong...its op-ed, that's all. Don't stress it...prove them wrong! Write TAMBAY and make an argument as to what TAMBAY did wrong or others who have posted. Post your point on the boards for us all to see. EXPLAIN why you don't agree, if you so choose, and make someone believe in your statement. Change someones mind, otherwise you'll be seen as making empty complaints because you have stated why people should support TP other than he's successful.

  • Joseph Garrett | January 20, 2012 8:44 PM

    So, because the director doesn't create content that maybe relates to you, you feel like someone liking their work and having good things to say is blind praise and is undeserved? Sounds a little self rightous. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and my comment was simply to express the frustration with people feeling they're opinion is more important than anyone else's. I personally enjoy Tyler's work. Does that not matter? Does that mean there is something wrong with me? No, it doesn't. Be honest about why you don't like him and stop using his work as an excuse to trash him.

  • Akimbo | January 20, 2012 4:25 AM

    This site is about discussion, not blind praise. To clear up any confusion you may have please visit their about page. There are fansites if you just want to lavish undeserved praise on every filmmaker simply because they're black. Holding each other to a higher standard is not hating or jealousy.

  • gryph | January 20, 2012 12:35 AMReply

    http://blackonpurpose.blogspot.com/2012/01/red-tails-radical-inter-raciality-and.html

  • Adam Scott Thompson | January 19, 2012 9:31 PMReply

    George Cooney.

  • Akimbo | January 19, 2012 7:22 PMReply

    I thought the problem with them was that they tended to be directed by Tyler Perry. Hum. I liked the Tuskegee Airmen TV movie. The trailers for Red Tails make it look like some spazzy, MTV-produced version of Top Gun featuring real live nigras. Pass.

  • Miles Ellison | January 19, 2012 7:06 PMReply

    I'll bet Lucas would have had no trouble getting Hollywood support for this movie if he made the pilots wear dresses and fat suits.

  • Ash | January 19, 2012 8:50 PM

    Ironically, this is probably true. Thanks for putting that image in my head, BTW.

  • Uklady2k | January 19, 2012 6:08 PMReply

    So he wants to get Mr Perry's audience base to support his movie!

  • Brandon | January 19, 2012 6:02 PMReply

    I know right? Terrence and Cuba aren't bo draws. Im glad they're working however the cast should've been better. I mean Terrence, Cuba, neyo, Nate and Tristan aren't powerhouse . Perhaps they should've hired Denzel, Cory hardict, Columbus short, or Anthony mackie.

  • Clayton | January 20, 2012 11:01 PM

    GHOST says, "As for Tyler-part of the reason why we struggle to get film made is because we refuse to support VARIETY. We can flock to see Tyler in a dress trying to save ab lack woman being done wrong by a man, black male bashing films, black women abused films, black hood life, blacks cooning and clowning films. However when someone tries to get away from that we won't support it." I agree with you 100%. This was the risk I took when making my award winning, micro-budgeted feature film Pro-Black Sheep. I got away from a lot of what you mentioned and, well, the support is there by anyone who SEES the film. Just getting people to see it is challenging. Lol. So, I invite you and everyone here looking for something a bit different in African-American cinema to visit the fan page for Pro-Black Sheep: http://www.facebook.com/problacksheep. If you like what you see, click "like." And if you want to see the film then visit Amazon.com. Also, while you're at it, visit the new page for my one of my next film projects @ http://www.facebook.com/whotrespassagainstus. Allow me to thank you ahead of time. Also, I answer "all the time" to your question: "How many times have we seen white folks complain about a cast or writer in a white film?" Just go to the average message board of any white movie profile on IMDB.com. You'll see...lol. The go in over there...lol. Ruthless.

  • Corrin | January 20, 2012 12:41 AM

    Poor Cuba, folks just loving to hate on Cuba. Anyways..I just saw it and was delighted. Nate Parker and David Oyolowo are wonderful against each other. Yeah Denzel and Anthony would be great to watch, hell Will Smith woulda been great for that matter, but I LOVED seeing these fresh faces. as a woman watching these guys for 2hours was JUST FINE! I've Been a fan of David's since watching him in the series MI-5. I think it is nice that Lucus and co. recognized that there is more talent in Ho-wood than just the usual suspects.

  • Ghost | January 19, 2012 10:02 PM

    They might have gotten these peolpe because they were the only ones available. Also Terrence, Cuba, Neyo, Nate, Tristian and Michael Jordan might not be powerhouses but they all ahve been on tv or in movies recently. Micheal has another film coming out next month helps too. As for Tyler-part of the reason why we struggle to get film made is because we refuse to support VARIETY. We can flock to see Tyler in a dress trying to save ab lack woman being done wrong by a man, black male bashing films, black women abused films, black hood life, blacks cooning and clowning films. However when someone tries to get away from that we won't support it. We FIND reasons not to support it. Most of the bashing I have heard about this film was been aimmed at the cast and the writer. How many times have we seen white folks complain about a cast or writer in a white film?
    As for Tyler-he has money to FUND some movies not written by him. It's funny that white folks can do that and yet we can't.

  • word | January 19, 2012 5:53 PMReply

    Its not mainly an issue of racism...although it does play a part sometimes however but folks this is hollywood and they are all about the money. If you can show them the money they will be happy to do business with you. Show "Business"..thats right show your business. Tyler weather we like his films or not has been able to do that. Feed the machine. So yes it is important for all of us to park our butts in those seats this week to see redtails so that hollywood will take notice. Its not about the quailty since the acting in Redtails may suck thanks to the trailers.."or ie Tyler Perry Flicks" its about feeding the machine. Once we are successful doing that especially on a continued basis then we should see the doors open wide open. The quailty of of films need to be discussed on a later date since we are severly lacking in that but thanks to quite resergence of good directors.

  • Nadine | January 20, 2012 11:40 PM

    I hear ya'.

  • Clayton | January 20, 2012 11:31 PM

    I'm not trying to be useful. I'm telling WORD to save his breath as I call it as I see it. Using another word is just me being politically correct. Not for me.

  • Nadine | January 20, 2012 11:15 PM

    Isn't using the term snob kind of snobbish? It's definitely not useful.

  • Clayton | January 20, 2012 10:47 PM

    Well said WORD but good luck telling this to these wannabe film snobs on S&A.

  • bguest | January 19, 2012 5:44 PMReply

    To spend $100 mil on a film which HBO has already done(with Laurence Fishburne) and water it down with a bunch of silly CGI fight scenes and beg people to see it so we get more crap like that...please!...Hurry and up and lose your shirt on this one Lucas...spare us any more nonsense....I am African-American but I am 100% with the studios on this one...no one needs this shit...make smart films cheaply with digital technology, show them at festivals and self-release them...you may not get rich but if you really care about quality art, that's how it's done.

  • zg64 | January 19, 2012 7:51 PM

    I love this idea. It will give people like me an opportunity to tell my stories, not hollywoods. Interesting concept, email me BGUEST.

  • john doe | January 19, 2012 5:40 PMReply

    "I quickly realized that this is not racism." so what is then, Mr Perry? I'm waiting for him to continue but then Perry goes on to completely abandon that train of thought and talk about other sh*t. Honestly, TP sounds like he's not the sharpest tool in the box.

  • DM | January 19, 2012 6:34 PM

    ,But a "Tool" non the less....

  • jacinta | January 19, 2012 5:37 PMReply

    at least he tried to help in some way. Chillax....what do you do for black filmmakers?

  • amilcar | January 19, 2012 4:22 PMReply

    I am continually amazed, amused and disappointed at the same time at the continued criticism of Tyler. I am not a fan of all his films, some of them are just too "bubble gum" for me, but I don't see as much "dislike" for gangsta/violent films. No doubt, if it wasn't for Tyler, a lot of Black actors would not be working. I take the films I like and leave the ones I don't alone. Even your friends and family have stuff about them you just can't stand but......
    Time to chill.

  • sp | January 20, 2012 1:07 AM

    Amilcar, I concur.

  • Logic | January 19, 2012 4:15 PMReply

    Anytime you have to use Cuba Gooding Jr. and Terrence Howard as selling points....Not. Good.

    I'm all for bringing attention to the feats of the Tuskegee Airman, but I just can't bring myself to be interested in this movie or the bulk of the cast. If it was a documentary about the TA I'd be throwing my money at it. Alas, it isn't. Thanks anyway, Tyler.

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