Tyler Perry Is Trying to Ruin All Our Black Actors

Posted on July 20, 2011 by


by Alexander P. Brown

If aliens were to try to discern the purpose of Black people based on our film presence they would come to the conclusion that our lives are defined by being assistants to white people and carriers for the AIDS virus. You can’t fault these aliens though, as even in 2011 there is a dearth of roles for the numerous Black men and women who make a living appearing on screen. The biggest cash cow right now for said performers, even ones of recognizable talent, are the many, many productions of Tyler Perry or as I know him “Black Ed Wood.”

Full disclosure, if I could lobotomize the “creative” part of Perry’s mind I would throw a block party to celebrate the upcoming unlicensed quasi-medical procedure. I think he’s an above-average producer but a terrible writer and a questionable director. I applaud his being able to get legitimate talent to show up en masse every time he twiddles thumbs, however, I think he’s an evil mastermind trying his damnedest to ruin the careers of every black male star. Case in point—Michael Jai White.

Now the public at large forgot about Micheal Jai White after Spawn, mostly because White’s screen-worthy face and physique was obscured in most of the movie and the rule that there can only be one Negro as an action lead at a time, which Wesley Snipes had on lock. (At the moment, ambiguously black stars Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Vin Diesel each hold half of the title.) The years after Spawn White pretty much left general consciousness until he took matters into his own hands with the slow hit Black Dynamite, which he wrote and starred in.

Unfortunately, the year before he debuted in the exploitation spoof, Tyler Perry cast him in the ensemble drama Why Did I Get Married getting those claws in him early, before he could reignite his star power in the big budget summer arena. True, White has been in features that display he wants to be more than Mark Strong’s latest opposite, but in my mind I believe it’s more a lack of opportunity to display how convincingly he can kick someone through a wall rather than wanting to be the Saana Lathan’s angry love interest.

So soon, after White has done a hundred and fifty episodes of Perry’s newest cable TV show in 2.67 years, he’ll have to pretty much forget about his numerous black belts and we will all have to resign ourselves to waiting for his next dramatic turn as the angry black man who didn’t love his family enough to keep his daughters off the pole. That is what is waiting for us in the world of Black cinema, not a new version of Coffy or Foxy Brown (especially if we don’t come out to support Colombiana), not a remake of Cleopatra Jones, just lots and lots of tears and wish lists for White Jesus.

This is a world where Ghost Rider is going to have two movies and there seems to be sustained difficulty getting a Luke Cage or Black Panther movie realized. Every year there is some new Oscar grab film set more than thirty years ago, yet we’ve hardly tried to mine the life stories of great black figures into film, such as Douglass or Tubman or even more recent figures like Louis Armstrong and Nina Simone.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand Black people have to sort out their many, many social grievances through their art. The one Black superhero franchise we had on film, Blade, was a thinly veiled narrative of a mixed kid who had to deal with his feelings of abandonment by his white father and how he shifted those feelings to his adopted white dad. But Blade also decapitated scores of vampires. I just want to see someone’s heart get punched out while Michael Jai White keeps his daughters off the pole because he was emotionally absent while fighting ninjas. It’s not too much to ask.

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