The Mo’Kelly Report
The African American entertainment community has been not-so-quietly bubbling about director Tyler Perry’s decision to cast reality TV star Kim Kardashian in the upcoming movie, The Marriage Counselor. The obvious irony of the film, title aside; purportedly Tyler fans generally and Black actresses specifically are none-too-pleased how Kardashian has further entrenched herself in African American culture.
Actress and television personality Holly Robinson-Peete, while not personally disparaging the Perry decision, did breathe more life into the criticism with recent public remarks on Access Hollywood.
“We can always count on Tyler Perry to give a blacktress a job. So all across the world blacktresses are upset.
“No, it’s [an] amazing PR move. It’s actually pretty smart and the timing is great. Like her brand, this drama will be good for the film. So, it’s actually kind of brilliant in a way… I don’t have any problems with it.”
At the risk of over-analyzing Peete’s remarks, Mo’Kelly is a bit confused after reading them.
Are we to lend more credence to the angst of the multitude of Black actresses (Blacktresses) worldwide or the fact that this singular Blacktress is ok with Perry’s casting? To whom should we pay more attention?
Let’s take Holly Robinson Peete at her word. Her connections and sphere of influence relative to Black actresses can’t be argued. If she says that there is voluminous criticism related to casting Kim Kardashian, Mo’Kelly is comfortable taking her at her word.
There now seems to be a bit of hypocrisy in the criticism of Perry by both Black actresses and his general fan base. If you are a fan of Perry, your fandom is inextricably linked to the idea that Perry makes films the way he wants to make them; without deference to any supposed higher calling or ethnic loyalty. You can’t be a fan of Perry and simultaneously be on the front lines battling Black film stereotypes. It’s an either/or proposition. If you are a Perry fan, then you willingly carry all of his associated baggage. Conversely, if you are adamant in advocating quality Black film or casting quality Black actresses, then that heavy baggage is yours to carry as well. It is an irreconcilable contradiction to suggest one can be both. They are simply mutually exclusive in nature.
The fact of the matter is that Perry has not changed. If he has been anything, he has been wholly consistent. Tyler Perry is still making those decisions which financially best benefit his brand, his business and ultimately his bottom line. He never pre-promised all of his roles to Black women any more than he pre-promised a limit on how many times he would don a dress as Madea.
If you as a “fan” were comfortable with Perry’s artistic freedom up until now, then don’t get brand new over the casting of Kim Kardashian. The fans (and Black actresses) who were quite vocal in their support of Perry don’t get to move the goal posts now because Kim Kardashian “offends” them. You “fans” were just fine giggling and ghetto cosigning with Al Sharpton when he characterized Perry detractors as “Proper Negroes”… as if being proper in any way is ever worthy of ridicule.
Film director Malcolm Lee has said that Perry “isn’t interested in art,” questioning the commitment of Perry to mastering his craft. Spike Lee has long beat the drum that Perry has done African-Americans a cinematic disservice. Tyler Perry fans weren’t having any of it. Tyler Perry fans called the family Lee “haters,” jealous and the like.
But now the core fans are up in arms, suggesting that Perry is now being disloyal to Black actresses? The “Proper Negroes” have long been clear on how Perry perceives himself, his work and eventual legacy. The “Proper Negroes” were in no way disturbed about Kim Kardashian taking the place of a Kimberly Elise, a Kerry Washington, a Gabrielle Union, a Regina King, or some other lesser-known, higher-qualified Black actress. To the “Proper Negroes,” Tyler was just being Tyler. The Proper Negroes are now laughing loudly at the angry Tyler Perry fans.
Not laughing with them but at them.
Perry fans are doing their best “Proper Negroes” impression. But nobody is suggesting that either their complaints are unfounded or rooted in jealousy or haterism. Therein lies the hypocrisy.
The common argument in support of Perry has been long connected to the idea of how many Black people he puts to work, on and off the screen. The common rebuttal is that the imagery on the screen will long outlast any paycheck cashed connected to a movie’s creation.
‘Soul Plane’ temporarily put Black actresses to work too. Does anyone remember who or how many? No, but we all surely remember how far it still has set all African Americans back in a cinematic sense.
Strip clubs put struggling Black “actresses” to work daily. It’s never been just about putting Black actresses to work, it’s about responsibility in how paychecks are generated. The “Proper Negroes” already understood this to be true. Tyler Perry fans instead want to pick and choose when cinematic responsibility is important. The selective outrage is quite hilarious.
If Black actresses and Tyler Perry fans in general wish for the multimedia mogul to consider the implied messages casting Kim Kardashian sends to Black people and beyond; congratulations…you have just joined the “Proper Negroes” club…whether intended or not.
Tyler Perry hasn’t betrayed or fooled any of his fans. You’ve fooled yourselves. Perry in a cinematic sense showed you who he was long ago. It’s your fault if you didn’t believe him.
The Mo’Kelly Report is a syndicated politics and entertainment journal. Visit http://mrmokelly.com for the latest from Mr. Mo’Kelly. Contact him at [email protected].