Today Tyler Perry’s new film, “A Family that Preys,” hits theaters. And like the hundreds of other black people headed to the cinemas, I will definitely be joining them. But I can’t help but feel a bit apprehensive. Although I love to see black filmmakers like Perry shaking up the industry and breaking viewing records, I feel like I already know what’s going to happen (and not because I copped a bootleg version of the play).
Although his movies usually come packaged with great soundtracks, well known black actors and plenty of cool scenic shots, they are all too predictable. And the writing is kind of weak. The first time you see a woman being abused by her husband and overcoming challenges with her faith in God and the love and support of her family, one can’t help but be moved and inspired.
But by the third or fourth movie you can’t help but feel like you’re watching a regurgitated version of one of his plays.
We have all heard the one-liners about throwing grits on cheating/abusive husbands. Or the ultra corny prince charming that has come to “love you past your pain” and whisk the scorn and resilient woman off into a world of Christian blissful love. And lets not forget “le comic relief” from the infamous Madea. Unfortunately, there is a method to his madness that is all too familiar.
Interestingly enough, Perry has said that he makes films for “his people” and not for mainstream Hollywood. But he may not get a chance to capture a broad range of black audiences because of the repetitive content.
Some people will probably wonder why we even see the new movie. But I feel an obligation to my community to support successful productions by Perry’s company. If only so they can continue to pave the way for future black filmmakers.
Part of the problem is that there is a monopoly in the film industry. It’s rare that you see many black films that don’t go straight to DVD.
There are probably thousands of great stories out there waiting for their debut on the silver screen that never get a chance to be viewed because of a lack of substantial financial backing.
Even Spike Lee admits he had to beg black philanthropists like Bill Cosby to fund the cult classic, School Daze, when studios wouldn’t help fund the project.
Another issue is there aren’t enough black filmmakers making movies for black audiences or for audiences in general. Perry is satisfying a void that desperately needs to be filled. But often hungry people will eat anything.
If you don’t have a plethora of films you feel you can relate to, as soon as one comes out, you’re going to run and see it just because.
Don’t get me wrong I believe he means well. And that’s exactly why there’s a seat in a Tallahassee movie theater with my name on it this weekend. I choose to support Perry, if only to make room for our people to get out there to get the chance to make and share our stories.
Yewande Addie is a senior newspaper journalism student from Atlanta. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.