Monday, June 1, 2009

Spike Lee Compares Tyler Perry To Amos and Andy

Spike Lee Compares Tyler Perry To Amos and Andy

By Casey Gane-McCalla, Assistant Editor May 28, 2009 10:11 am

Spike Lee had an interview with Ed Gordon on Our World with Black Enterprise scheduled to air this weekend. In the interview he complained about “coonery and buffoonery” and both of Tyler Perry’s shows “Meet the Browns” and “House of Payne,” comparing them to characters from minstrel shows.From EurWeB“We’ve had this discussion back and forth. When John Singleton [made 'Boyz in the Hood'], people came out to see it. But when he did ‘Rosewood,’ nobody showed up. So a lot of this is on us! You vote with your pocketbook, your wallet. You vote with your time sitting in front of the idiot box, and [Tyler Perry] has a huge audience. We shouldn’t think that Tyler Perry is going to make the same film that I am going to make, or that John Singleton or my cousin Malcolm Lee [would make]. As African-Americans, we’re not one monolithic group, so there is room for all of that. But at the same time, for me, the imaging is troubling and it harkens back to ‘Amos n’ Andy.’”

OPINION: Why Tracy Morgan Isn’t Taking Us Two Steps “Each artist should be allowed to pursue their artistic endeavors, but I still think there is a lot of stuff out today that is coonery and buffoonery. I know it’s making a lot of money and breaking records, but we can do better. … I am a huge basketball fan, and when I watch the games on TNT, I see these two ads for these two shows (Tyler Perry’s “Meet the Browns” and “House of Payne”), and I am scratching my head. We got a black president, and we going back to Mantan Moreland and Sleep ‘n’ Eat?

AAUF Responds...

Both Tyler Perry's Madea and Martin Lawerence's Big Momma characters portray the outmoded "Mammy" images of African American's created by white vaudevillians to entertain white audiences. These images have become so prevalent that they became a routine caricature of African American women. Fortunately, black women have refused to play these roles in the 21st century and so the role has fallen to men like Perry and Lawrence to perpetuate.

The coonery and buffonery of Madea and Big Momma are a sad reminder of the death of the Black Arts Movement whose aim was to create art that demonstrated positive images of African Americans as well as made political statements about the need for social and economic empowerment in the African American community.

It's easy to laugh at Madea and Big Momma, it's difficult to create a black space where our culture and history are revered, our children receive quality education, our neighborhoods are safe, our businesses thrive and create living wage job opportunities and our young people cease being commodified and sent to prison.

Do Madea and Big Momma cause the social and economic disparities in the African American community? No. Do they do anything to harm our children's images of themselves? Yes. Does that devaluation cause people like Bonnie Sweeten to blame black people for false crime? Yes. In 1955, Emmit Till died and in 1931 the Scottsboro Boys were sent to prison on the exaggerated and false testimony of white women. If our image in the media is devalued by African Americans then others will do the same. Aissia Richardson

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