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TP on Hollywood Walk of Fame.jpg

Tyler Perry Needs to Brag Less About His Work Ethic. A Lot Less

By Brian Richards | Social Media | January 8, 2020 |

By Brian Richards | Social Media | January 8, 2020 |

TP on Hollywood Walk of Fame.jpg

The Devil works hard, but Kris Jenner Tyler Perry works harder.

Last week, the trailer for A Fall From Grace, the newest film from writer/producer/director/actor/subject of an episode of The Boondocks which made him so pissed off that he got it banned from ever airing again on television Tyler Perry that will be streaming on Netflix starting later this month, dropped on Twitter for all to see. And what we saw was…well, pretty much everything that we expect to see in a movie written and directed by Tyler Perry.

Bad and predictable writing? Check. Attractive Black male actors who are made to wear atrocious wigs and facial hair that make them look less attractive and damn near unrecognizable? Check. (Seriously, I never would’ve guessed that the male lead in A Fall From Grace who looks like Larry Blackmon from Cameo with that wig was Mehcad Brooks. Yes, that Mehcad Brooks.) Successful Black women being taken down several dozen notches until they learn not to be so proud of themselves or their careers, and that they need to be proud of their relationships with God and/or a good Black man in a bad wig? Check. Dark-skinned Black women being taken down several dozen notches until they learn not to be so proud of themselves or their careers, and that that they need to be proud of their relationships with God and/or a good Black man in a bad wig? Check? Dark-skinned Black women being punished with death or physical abuse or both if they refuse to learn such lessons? Check.

This week, Tyler Perry decided to get on Beyoncé’s Internet and use his Twitter account to boast about how hard he has been working in writing all of the scripts for his many television shows (The Haves And The Have Nots, The Oval, Assisted Living, Sistas, House Of Payne, Bruh, Ruthless). Like, every script for every episode. Without a writers’ room and without the assistance or participation of any other writers. Because WORK ETHIC!! Seriously, his words, not mine.

If Tyler Perry was someone known for consistently turning out high-quality work, then this would probably be an accomplishment worth celebrating and admiring. The problem with this tweet, and Tyler Perry trying to flex in it, is that 1) he’s not someone known for consistently turning out high-quality work (say what you will about Aaron Sorkin and Matthew Weiner, who also insist on writing nearly everything themselves and will add their names to other scripts from other staff writer on their shows no matter how minimal their contributions, but their work is mostly good and worth watching) and 2) the only reason why he insists on writing every script for every episode of all his television shows even though he really doesn’t have to is so that he doesn’t have to compensate any other staff writers for their work due to his early refusal to join the Writers Guild of America West (WGAW) and his firing of several writers from one of his shows due to their attempts at unionizing, until he and the WGAW reached a deal for staff writers on his shows to be unionized. His cooperation with unions in support of actors hasn’t been much better.

There were many responses to Tyler Perry’s tweet, and very few of them were positive.

(For more detail about the “WORK ETHIC!!” that Tyler Perry is so damn proud of, please read the thread starting with this tweet)

I know that some people will see this and many other articles about this situation (as well as all the tweets about this) and be upset, and say things like, “Why do you have to be like this? Tyler Perry is a positive Black man out here doing positive things for the Black community, and giving all of these Black actors work in his movies and television shows, and you’re just trying to bring him down. Why don’t you talk about the other White directors who don’t hire any Black people? Huh? You talk about how there’s not enough diversity in Hollywood and yet you go after the most successful Black man in Hollywood. You should be ashamed.”

You know, stuff like that.

And I’m fully aware that Tyler Perry has done many positive things on behalf of the Black community and on behalf of many a Black actor in Hollywood. Taraji P. Henson, for example, has spoken about how most directors and studios don’t really give her the respect she deserves, despite her long career, and that Tyler Perry is frankly the only director willing to give her and other actresses like her a lead role in a film that will be seen in theaters nationwide. Many of his films provide entertainment to a demographic (older churchgoers who are mostly Black and female that prefer to watch uplifting and family-friendly entertainment with good moral values and has no sex/violence/profanity) that is largely ignored by most of Hollywood and is willing to show up and spend money when a film arrives in theaters that is their brand of whiskey cup of tea. And his 330-acre, independently-owned Tyler Perry Studios that recently opened in Atlanta (with 12 soundstages each named after iconic African-Americans such as Cicely Tyson, Harry Belafonte, and Oprah Winfrey) is a wonderful opportunity for more films with diversity both in front of and behind the camera to be made by other filmmakers who are not named Tyler Perry that will go on to provide entertainment to audiences everywhere. Hell, I even really liked his performance as Ben Affleck’s attorney in Anne Hathaway’s favorite romantic comedy Gone Girl, which was enjoyable to watch, and also proof that Tyler Perry is capable of turning in a good performance when he trusts another director enough to give him quality material and to do the job right.

Unfortunately, none of that changes the fact that Tyler Perry deserves just as much attention for his missteps as he does for his successes, especially when he feels the need to brag about how hard-working he is and how that hard work contributes to so much of his output. None of that hard work matters when his movies and television shows portray Black women as deserving recipients of horrible and unpleasant behavior (for f**k’s sake, he had the female main character in one of his films become HIV-positive as punishment for cheating on her husband), or when respectability politics are treated as the one and only way for his characters to achieve anything resembling happiness and success, or when you think that you and only you are the most qualified person to write and direct a film adaptation of the late Ntozake Shange’s classic play For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When The Rainbow Is Enuf, and not the many, many, many talented Black and brown female writers and directors in the film and television industry.

When you get on Twitter to boast about how you’ve climbed to the top of the ladder in your industry when in reality, you keep pulling that ladder away to prevent any other Black people from climbing up as well to be successful alongside you, especially when one of the main points of your WGA agreement was to “[foster] young, diverse talent [and to]…dramatically increase the number of minority writers working in Hollywood today,” you deserve to be called out and you deserve all of the side-eyes and disrespect that you get from the Black community because of it.


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Brian Richards is a Staff Contributor. You can follow him on Twitter.

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