Sick and Tired of You Carving My Image: A Black Man Speaks Out



Will have you in stitches!
Creative Commons License photo credit: Mikey aka DaSkinnyBlackMan
Every Sunday I attempt to make an escape away from the realities of this world. Therefore every week I make a run for the movies. Nothing is more comforting than hot popcorn, butter finger bites, and a large container of half diet coke and half regular cherry coke. This week as I was in line preparing to buy my ticket, I notice a large amount of Black women in line and leaving the theater. Being a regular at the local theatre I know the trends and come to the conclusion a Black film must be showing.

As I look to see what is playing above on the posting, I see that Tyler Perry’s new movie, I Can Do Bad All by Myself has been released. The Internet Data Database notes that “Madea (Perry) delivers three young adults who tried to rob her home to their aunt (Henson), a hard-living nightclub singer who doesn’t want the responsibility of parenting the trio. Can Madea’s influence, coupled with the arrival a handsome, industrious new tenant (Rodriguez), help April turn a corner in her life?” For some reason my happy zin feeling that over takes me when I enter a theatre disappears while at the same time a sense of anger begins to boil to the top.

Now before you throw every counter argument and the kitchen sink at me, I ask you to first take a moment and understand my perspective as a Black man born and raised in these lands where we oppress and control while at the same time praising “the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.” First, I am very much aligned with the intended letter to Tyler Perry posted on NPR by Jamilah Lemieux. The letter reads:

September 11, 2009
Dear Mr. Perry,
I appreciate your commitment to giving black folks jobs in front of and behind the camera. Your films are known for their humor, and they also have positive messages about self-worth, love and respect. For all of that, I thank you.
However, my feelings about your work are conflicted. The images of black people we see in your movies and two TV shows, Meet The Browns and House Of Payne, are not always fair. Now, you are the only person who seems to be able to get black shows on TV. But both your shows are marked by old stereotypes of buffoonish, emasculated black men and crass, sassy black women. I’d like to support your work, I really would — because I’d like to see people who look like me on TV. But I can’t let advertisers and networks think that these stereotypes are acceptable.
Your most famous character, Medea, is a trash-talking, pistol-waving grandmother played by none other than you. Through her, the country has laughed at one of the most important members of the black community: Mother Dear, the beloved matriarch. . . . Mr. Perry, you are in a position now where, if you were willing, you could completely revolutionize the world of black film. You could singlehandedly develop the next crop of Tyler Perrys, Spike Lees and Julie Dashes if you want to. You have built an empire on a foundation of love and Christianity, Mr. Perry, but that is also mired with the worst black pathologies and stereotypes. I beg of you, stop dismissing the critics as haters and realize that black people need new stories and new storytellers.

Now we know that Mr. Perry has been criticized before for the content of his movies and television shows. He has said previously that Perry’s not immune to the flak. He once said, “Over the years, I have learned to ignore these people and keep doing what I feel that I am being led to do.” I would like to remind Mr. Perry, that President Bush too felt he was being led as well while in office. Now I believe Mr. Perry has a right to creative freedom. Every artist does in my mind.

But when one takes the national spotlight, they are responsible for the messages and images they are portraying to the world. I know he has employs mainly Black staff and does a lot of charity work. But I also personally know drug dealers who I grew up with donating cloths and toys during Christmas. We as a country suffered as people, especially Black people suffer for your work. I have seen his last two movies, but refused to see this particular film. The same feeling I left with after viewing them is the same emotion I felt in my heart after seeing How Stella Got her Groove Back, Waiting to Exhale, and The Color Purple. I can recall when I was dragged to see Waiting to Exhale by my mother the feeling of shame. The author, Terry McMillan has made a living in the fictional stereotyping of Black males for the world to see and rejoice within her depictions. This can be easily detracted from the beginning of “Waiting to Exhale.” The main character, Savannah begins to describe her family dynamics:

“Mama, who thinks she is an expert on everything, hasn’t had a whole man in her seventeen years, and if I knew where my daddy was, I’d probably kill him for making her such a bitter woman…One of my brothers is in prison for doing some stupid shit, passing counterfeit money…”

Seen here, Black males are seen as romantically absent, convicts, and unintelligent. Within the following section, a simple plotted stereotypical reference to a fear of Black male sexually is exhibited.

“‘I’m on my way, baby’” he said, and jabbed me worse than he had the first time…He went to work, and during this whole ordeal, not once did her kiss me…all of a sudden his face became monstrous and contorted, and the next thing I know, he started growling like a bear…he was gritting his teeth and his eyes looked like red lasers. “Grrrrrrrrrrr” he said again, and I thought his penis was going to come out through my chest. I was about to push him off, but I was scared, and he did it again, even louder and more piercing this time. “Grrrrrrrrrrr, he screeched, and then, thank God, collapsed. I lay there still as I possibly could, because I was terrified. I didn’t know what I was sleeping with: a man or a beast.”

Like McMillan, Tyler’s formula that targets Black women, strums the lonely heartstrings nationwide while at the same time standing on the necks of the true image of Black males. Others in the music industry follow this formula as well. When describing us to the world, Destiny’s Child (song-Solider) notes:

We like them boys that be in them ‘lacs leaning, leaning
Open they mouth they grill gleaming (gleaming)
Candy paint keep that wheel clean and (clean and)
They always be talking that country slang we like….
I love how he keep my body screaming (screaming)
A rude boy that’s good to me with street credibility…
If his status ain’t hood
I ain’t checking for him
Better be street if he looking at me
I need a soldier
That ain’t scared to stand up for me
Known to carry big things if you know what I mean

We are much more than this. I am much more than this. I keep asking myself, when will our true story going to be told. And if it is one day, who will care to listen for their minds will be truly polluted with the negative images planted beforehand

Terence D. Fitzgerald, Ph.D., M.S.W.

Comments

  1. Ryon

    Hi Terrance,

    I agree with you, and would add that Tyler employs religion to create an apologetic depiction of the black lower class that almost normative in the minds of whites…..and blacks.

    I commend you for touching on this point and only hope more will be written on this topic….

    rjc

  2. @ Dr. Terence Fitzgerald:
    When you refer to the “you’ in Sick and Tired of You Carving My Image, I notice you are refering to black people. I agree. Black people do a great deal of harm to their own POC. One stricking example: rap music has carved a horrible image to the entire world of blacks: criminals, illegal drug users and sellers, low morals, scoffing at education, refering to women as “hoes”, getting women pregnant and then “ditchin’ the hoe”. An entire host of negatives.
    Plus, young blacks have adopted this music form and its lyrics as almost sacred. It’s done a huge disservice to black youth and obviously set a negative example to black people everywhere. Why aren’t black song writers more responsible in their address to young people? No wonder black students find themselves more and more “unable to relate to the white world of education and thus doing poorly in school”. If rap music is their bible, who would believe in hard word and study to achieve and make a decent living? The entire message is “To be black means to not achieve..and show the white man your solidarity with your brothers and sisters.” How does this make any sense? I agree with Dr. Fitzgerald. Blacks need to take more responsibility in how they portray themselves to the world.

  3. adia

    Terence: Interesting piece. I have nothing to add to your comments about Tyler Perry (not a fan, for many of the reasons you mention above). I would only add to your discussion of the work of Terry McMillan & Alice Walker that I think there’s a difference between the books and the movie versions of their work. You mention seeing “Stella,” “Waiting…” and “Color Purple,” but don’t mention whether you read the books as well. I am not a fan of Terry McMillan’s work either, but I do think that WTE was more nuanced and more about the friendship among four black women and their difficulties with relationships, family, and work than it was just a man-bashing piece. I think that a lot of these other dynamics that were present in the book, particularly the role of female friendships–which are often sustaining and essential for black women, particularly in a climate where relationships w/ black men can be hard to come by–were lost in the transition from book to film. And I think a similar argument is *definitely* present for Color Purple. So I’d just add to your critique that part of the problem is that when black women write books intended to describe their experiences and realities (which, like it or not, includes dealing with the systemic sexism in which some black men participate or even endorse), the translation to film often includes studios, screenwriters, producers, and other figures who are mostly white and aren’t in the least interested in preserving the nuances of these women’s stories nor protecting the images of black men.

  4. @ Adia:
    I agree with 90% of your post. However, this part concerns me.

    ” the translation to film often includes studios, screenwriters, producers, and other figures who are mostly white and aren’t in the least interested in preserving the nuances of these women’s stories nor protecting the images of black men.”
    Rap music is certainly not interested in “protecting the images of black men”. On the contrary it seems to glorify negative images. And rap music is written by blacks. Also, can’t black men protect their own image by behaving in an honorable non-chauvinistic fashion toward women? Is protecting the image of black men the sole responsibility of white people? This seems to be infantilizing black men.
    For sure, black people have been negatively portrayed in the media in many negative ways by whites. However, much media produced and promoted by blacks seems to do no better. This black image concept can’t be shouldered by whites alone, can it?

  5. adia

    Thinking about race, thanks for your comment. On one hand, I agree with you in your critiques of rap music, but I think they touch on only part of the story. There are a lot of rappers who present very complex, non-misogynistic attitudes and ideals–Brother Ali, J Bully, Caushun. Have you ever heard of any of those guys? If not, it’s because despite lyrical skills and talent, they don’t fit the image of what will sell, so they don’t get record deals with mainstream labels (if they get deals at all). I think saying that rap “glorifies negative images” paints rap music with too broad a brush, and conflates what’s on the radio & MTV with rap music as a genre. This conflation ignores the presence of rappers who refuse to buy into the negative images, even though doing so costs them popularity, sales, and wider audiences. Absolutely, a LOT of mainstream rap is horribly misogynistic and disgusting. (50 cent, are you reading this?) But why is it that so many crass, sexist, violent, and dumbed down rappers get record deals, when rappers who criticize social inequality, misogyny, and corporate greed don’t? Who offers the former these record deals? Who owns the companies that are likely to sign these rappers to a deal? I think there’s a broader institutional context to consider. And within that context, black men who do try to promote a different image than the one predominant in the media aren’t the ones who get a wide audience. To your other point, I definitely don’t think “protecting the image of black men is the responsibility of white people.” I wasn’t suggesting this at all. My comment to Terrence was that when black women writers are discussing their lives and experiences, and when that includes sexist treatment from black men, these black women writers may be more inclined to present a more nuanced depiction of this treatment. Once they sell the rights to their books, though, I don’t think that mostly white studio heads, producers, directors, and screenwriters maintain the same inclination. In sum, black men can–and a great many do–present themselves in a way that counters the silly images in Tyler Perry films and the ridiculous depictions in mainstream rap music. But I think those black men who do this are less likely to find a public platform for their efforts, and that this reflects larger social, racial, and institutional dynamics.

  6. Lynn Roberts

    I am not a film critic, but I do have mixed opinions of Tyler Perry’s work, thus far. In my review of his films that I have seen, he has had some hits (Why Did I Get Married? Daddy’s Little Girls) and misses (Meet the Browns). One thing he does well is get our attention and he makes his films primarily for a Black audience with no apologies to the mainstream. He holds up a mirror (with all its cracks) and makes us laugh (out loud and sometimes enough to pee in our pants) with and at each other – even about very serious matters (e.g., relationships, drug use, violence against women, unemployment, and incarceration). He takes great license with caricatures and many of them, on the surface and out of context, are very problematic (http://www.thenation.com/doc/20090831/young ). But, in a rather artful way (in my view), he digs underneath the surface just enough to touch the human spirit and reveal his message – mainly one of redemption for the weary oppressed Black soul. No, he does not provide a critical analysis of the systemic oppression that binds far too many of us in a life of despair and trickery, but I can go elsewhere for that. I think that film can and should be a vehicle for revealing and uplifting our collective humanity – and many do – but despite awards from Sundance, such films are not drawing the mass audiences that Mr. Perry has sought to reach. And for good reason. Why preach to the converted? And as has been argued, film is Mr. Perry’s pulpit?

    I wish that you, Dr. Fitzgerald, had at least given Mr. Perry’s latest film a chance rather than pre-form your opinion about it. You might have seen what I saw when I took my 18 year old daughter and her young male friend to see it last week.

    Amidst the outrageous humor of Madea, a much too long gospel number, and periodic musical infusions from Mary J and Gladys Knight, Mr. Perry managed to weave into a two hour film the triumph of a young Black female (and would be victim of sexual violence) who is: told how beautiful and worthy she is by an older Black woman and a young male of color; believed and avenged by her aunt; defended and protected by a man of color; able to demonstrate love, maturity and grace under the pressure of caring for her younger brothers; and witness to the possibility of a healthy loving relationship between a man and a woman of color. In our debrief afterwards, this message seemed to resonate well with the two young people who accompanied me to the theatre.

    With all it cinematic embellishments, Perry’s message may not be the most enlightened, but it is still a good one for my daughter whose early life mirrors much of what was depicted in the film (maternal drug use, premature death of a primary caregiver, and foster care) and more strikingly, it was packaged in an immediately accessible format. Bottom line – she wanted to see the film!

    If I had wanted to share a message about violence against Black women with my daughter and her young male friend, I might have opted to take them to see the much more poignant documentary film No! by my dear friend, Aishah Shahidah Simmons (http://notherapedocumentary.org/). However, I do realize that their eyes might have glazed over too quickly -indeed I know this to be true since I shared a pre-production cut of the film with my daughter and her brothers several years ago. No! has an urgently important message, but is not immediately accessible to many young people. Perhaps it is because I am the great, great niece of Jackie Moms Mabley that I can appreciate that humor (and Black humor in particular) serves a purpose . . . sometimes it makes us laugh when we should really be enraged and, at the end of the day, it might even keep us from wanting to kill somebody (including ourselves). I watched my otherwise introverted and sometimes sullen daughter walk with her chin tilted a little higher as she bounced out of the theater with her young man on her arm. They both felt good and so did I.

    The work of transforming the images of Black people in America does not belong to a lone filmmaker such as Mr. Perry. It belongs to all of us as a community. His films are based on the unique perspectives he has formed from his own lived experience and observations as a Black man in America. He has chosen the genre of comedy (which is always a risk) to share his point of view with us. Who is to say what the “true image of the Black male” or for that matter, Black female is? That he stimulates such controvery about his work within and beyond the Black community (as did Alice Walker with the Color Purple) suggests that we need much more dialogue.

    In response to thinking bout race’s question, “why aren’t black songwriters more responsible in their address to young people. . . ?”, I think the question is better directed at the producers and consumers of the music (both black and white; young and old). Although very appealing to me, targeted boycotts of the music industry do not seem feasible. When my children want to listen to rap music, I point out the internalized racism and misogyny inherent in some of the lyrics as they bop to the beat. When they roll their eyes and say “Aw, Mom . . . !”, I might pop in one of my favorite hip hop artists, Michael Franti and Spearhead (http://www.last.fm/music/Michael%2BFranti%2B%2526%2BSpearhead), and smile as they appreciate the message in the music. I don’t tell them what to listen to but I do my part to stimulate their critical thinking about what they are listening to, and by offering them an alternative that still appeals to them, sometimes we just groove together in sweet unison. I apply this same logic and approach to their film viewing.

    I will continue to appreciate and claim the work of both Mr. Perry and Ms. Simmons – they both have a story to tell and a way to tell it. The rest is up to us!

  7. @ adia:
    “Absolutely, a LOT of mainstream rap is horribly misogynistic and disgusting. (50 cent, are you reading this?) But why is it that so many crass, sexist, violent, and dumbed down rappers get record deals, when rappers who criticize social inequality, misogyny, and corporate greed don’t? Who offers the former these record deals? Who owns the companies that are likely to sign these rappers to a deal?”
    I agree that corporations will offer record deals to rappers who promote misogyny, but the question is Why? Because previous sales records reveal that this is what Sells. And black young people are the buyers. Part of the issue here is What Sells and Who Buys this music?
    Thus, to target white corporations as the institutions who [solely] promote negative images of blacks is to ignore all the factors working here. If the abusive and criminal-admiring black music Never Sold, then indeed the rappers who represent a healthier image would have a chance.
    This is also about teenagers and their desire to ‘have their own thing”. It’s very typical teenage behavior, and I don’t want to appear to be saying “black kids just want to listen to stuff that promotes unhealthy, self-destructive behavior”. Unfortunately, all teenagers experiment with this..it’s called differentiation. I honestly don’t know the solution. I am just observing that the entire issue is a result of Both black and white participation in a phenomenon that results in black children being the victims.

  8. adia

    Thinking about race–thanks for the interesting dialogue. However, most sales records show that in contemporary times the majority of hip hop music is consumed (bought) by whites, particularly middle class whites. So that changes your premise a bit–it’s not just that corporations sign gangsta rappers b/c they’ll appeal to black kids who’ll only buy (or are the primary market for) this type of music. Before rap went mainstream, there was a diversity of voices within hip hop culture. There was what I think of as “party rap” (Will Smith), “conscious rap” (X Clan, Public Enemy), “making money at all costs rap” (EPMD), and because it was made for and marketed to a mostly black audience, black people bought most of it. Back in those days, you could be a “conscious rapper” and be successful. There was a market among black youth for this type of rap. (Tricia Rose has an excellent discussion of this in her book “Black Noise.”) So as the early years of hip hop music have shown, it’s not completely accurate to suggest that black kids only buy gangsta rap, b/c when there was more variety available in the 1980s and early 1990s, black kids bought different types of rap music and conscious rappers thrived. When corporations took over and rap went mainstream and white teens became a more reliable market, conscious rappers had a much harder time. Again, if you read my previous post, I didn’t say white corporations are the ones who solely promote negative images of blacks. What I am saying is that they play an important role in this process, and to just say that hip hop promotes negative images of black people overlooks this.

  9. Dr. Terence Fitzgerald Author

    I would like to thank all of those that commented on my submission. I love the critical dialog and strong comments. Next, in regards to rap music and other hip/hop artists, I agree Black rappers have a right to be artistic. Just the other day I was listening to my first rap CD (NWA). Being a kid raised in a trailer park in Illinois I was blown away by the lyrics. I still remember my mother’s face when she accidentally heard me playing “Fuck the Police.” But these rappers were depicting a story of their lives. The violence and mentality associated with urban living was a wake up call to the world. Their first CD is a classic musical piece that has been critiqued in university classrooms. But the so-called music played on MTV or BET that depicts violence and the degradation of women shaking their bottoms cannot be compared to groups such as NWA, Public Enemy, Ghetto Boys, and etc. There is no real message today. Sex and violence sells. We have to hold Black men like Will Smith and Russell Simmons who defend this music accountable. We must also hold record companies equally responsible

    Adia, I agree that WTE was good at referencing Black female friendships. But I feel the undertone struck a fowl tone with me in the references to Black males. I left the theatre with anger and sadness. I also agree with your statement:
    “Translation to film often includes studios, screenwriters, producers, and other figures who are mostly white and aren’t in the least interested in preserving the nuances of these women’s stories nor protecting the images of black men.”

    But as a writer and owner of their creative property, the authors have to exercise some strength when studios direct their work to sway away from the authors’ intent.

    As for Lynn Roberts, I appreciate your critique. Since I was a child I have been a connoisseur of movies presented by an array of diverse directors and writers. I understand that everyone is not able or willing to fling the critical critiques of the academy as it relates to the dominant pedagogies of race and gender. As you put it, movies are great when they are “revealing and uplifting our collective humanity.” I also love the idea of empowering women and victims of sexual abuse. I get it! But that still does not give Mr. Perry a free pass with me in terms of the covert messages that attempt to coin Black males in a dark light. I am going to hold Mr. Perry responsible for presenting true stories of Black men. I would like to pose a question. If his message really was meaningful and empowering to Black men, why is our rate of going to see his films low? The times you do see a Black man there he is more than likely with a Black female. We will have to agree to disagree for I see the damage of presenting Black males in the current light that seems more palatable for Black people to swallow. Please do not get me wrong for I feel that White directors are guilty of getting away with the negative portrayal other males as well. It has become commonplace for males in even television commercials that depict males as stupid, whimsical, and thinking with our genitals instead of the grey matter between our ears. In terms of seeing his movie Ms. Roberts, I feel I have given enough money and time to numerous ventures Mr. Perry has undertaken. His track record has shown me that he has dialed into the all to common and easy formula for the general public to get a laugh or pull a tear through the negative depiction of Black males.

  10. adia

    Terence, Ellen–thanks for your comments. I too am enjoying this dialogue and appreciate what happens when name calling and disrespectful language are left out of the debate. Terence–I read WTE prior to seeing the movie. I thought the book was average and that the movie sucked. And a large part of that feeling echoes your sentiments about the representations of black men in the film, but also the ways the women were boiled down to one dimensional characters with very little depth or complexity. With regards to your comments about the writer’s responsibility for this, I do wonder, once a writer sells the rights to her book, how much control she has over the end result? I would think not much, but I don’t really know. But perhaps this is an argument for greater diversity among screenwriters, directors, producers, etc. One of my girlfriends is a filmmaker, and she told me recently that the record for the number of films directed by a black woman in Hollywood is held by Kasi Lemons, for…three films. THREE FILMS! How can it be that when there’s a Michael Bay film every freakin summer, when Tyler can put on his dress and strut around as Madea every year, no black woman has ever directed more than 3 Hollywood movies? That is mind boggling to me, but perhaps it just goes to show that if there was more diversity among those who produce, screenwrite, direct, cast, etc, we’d be having a different discussion right now. I’ll just conclude by saying I’ve only seen 2 Tyler Perry movies, Daddy’s Little Girls & Why Did I Get Married. (Terence, I would be curious to know what you thought of DLG, if you watched it.) So I don’t have extensive data to draw from in my analysis of his work, but I do think that in his movies and in media generally, it’s incredibly important to be equally vigilant about negative representations of black men and black women. I think black women have been better about being vocal and outraged about some of the ways we are depicted in the media. I don’t often see black men doing this publicly, unless the images in question are created by black women. So I wholeheartedly agree with the push for critical analysis of images of people of color, particularly black men, and for addressing the social institutions that disseminate these images.

    One final point–one issue with creating “positive” images of black men is that the images sometimes described this way are ones that reproduce authoritarian, patriarchal images of masculinity. I don’t think that’s a positive image either. I’d like to see representations of black men being complex–men who love openly, care about their families, who can grow, and don’t need to dominate others to feel “like a man”. But I think there are some that see those depictions as effeminate and prefer images of patriarchal black masculinity, which I find equally problematic.

  11. Dr. Terence Fitzgerald Author

    Adia, I have not seen Daddy’s Little Girls , but I did see the other movie you mentioned. That particular film left me with the same feelings though. I do agree with you in terms of the diversity needed in films (i.e., writing, directing, and etc.). This issue seems to effect all other racial groups as well. But I feel it is all of our faults. All racial groups should demand representation. I think we all forget the power of our dollars. We need to exercise this power. Finally, I would love to see representation of ALL MEN in regards to being more loving, complex, and overall interesting characters within films and television. It seems the only time we really get these characters are when someone does a bio.

  12. TL

    Please when y’all step up then representation will come with it. Until then, forget about it. It’s interesting that the only people that have commented on this are women. Where are these Bruthas that are Oh so misrepresenteted. They ain;t THINKING about it because they don’t care. They don’t. I’m sorry Dr. If you are one of the few that feel upset about the way you are protrayed but the fact of the matter is that most of the men that you are trying to help don’t care one way or the other how they are viewed to the world. In their eyes the ignorant the BETTER!

  13. westindya

    This is an insightful article and I do see your point. I cringe every time I see Madea because loud and unrefined is not really my thing. However, I am of the mind that stereotypes are based on truths. Therefore, Mr. Perry’s challenge is to create a balance between the stereotypical Black life and the one that is often ignored or categorized as being “bourgeoisie.” To that end, while there are Black people who are not able to relate to his characters, remember that there are those who can and they enjoy the films because there is some truth in in for them.

    I liked the movie “Why Did I Get Married?” because it was more au courant. I could hear my friends and I having some of the conversations, having a weekend away at a cabin, etc. I also love the Color Purple even though I cannot watch it ever again because Danny Glover makes mesooooo angry. I know it’s a movie but it’s content are very real.

    At the end of the day, we cannot shun the part of society that we do not want to see or doesn’t reflect us. It may stand to reason that this is the lifestyle to which Mr. Perry is most drawn. If that is the case, he can do what he wants. For those who do not feel his movies are a true reflection of Black life, then as in all freedoms, see something else.

    As to his comment on Terry McMillian’s works, there is a victimology involved and that is part of the story’s development. Through that victimology her characters are able to then able to overcome. This creates the tension which is very much needed to make her books successful. {It is like the Lifetime Network – every woman is a victim of some sort.}

    In conclusion, the Tyler Perry’s, the Terry McMillian’s and the whole slew of contemporary African-American artists (writers, musicians, filmmakers etc.) would not succeed if there were not an audience. One may argue that African-Americans thirst for something to cling to, but at the root of it all we must cling to our own truths and what is real. For some, they see it in these creators.

  14. Lynn Roberts

    Thank you Dr. Fitzgerald for stimulating such a thoughtful and respectful exchange of ideas. I contend that in order to view “more loving, complex and overall interesting characters within films and television”, we will have to do what we can to grow more of them in real life and encourage them to become the future Tyler Perry’s, Aishah Simmons’, Spike Lee’s and Julie Dash’s, as well as the producers and consumers of good film.

    I will await your response to the upcoming “Precious” based on Sapphire’s book, “Push”, which Ms. Winfrey and Mr. Perry have a combined hand in producing and promoting and which is directed by Lee Daniels (Monster’s Ball). I anticipate that many will be disturbed by the negative portrayal of Black men and Black women and the airing of our most disturbing dirty laundry (child sexual assault and incest). And I would agree that in the striking absence of Black films that show our lightness, there always seems to be enough support for films that show our darkness. Art as imitation of life still leaves much to be desired, but then so does life for far too many of us.

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