On Tyler Perry

Tyler Perry runs the most popular minstrel show in the history of the world. If James Cameron directed  a 4D movie called Niggaquest about a boy in blackface stealing cars on a journey to find the golden watermelon, it would do less damage to the image of black America than the average Tyler Perry film. This makes it very, very strange that his most loyal fans are, in fact, black. Every plot summary reads like a Klansmen’s daydream, yet black men and women show up in droves for each feature. In a way, I find it inspiring. Tyler Perry proves that you can make a career out insulting people to their face. Especially if they’re your people.

Whenever Tyler Perry’s name pops up, the second thing to come to mind is Madea. The first thing is punching a wall, but let’s stay focused. Madea is Tyler Perry in a fat suit and low-effort wig. This is the least absurd thing about this character’s success. Madea’s essentially the love child of Big Momma,  Pat Robertson, and Tommy Vercetti. This mix comes out funny for all the wrong reasons. She’s intended as the wacky counterpoint to the melodrama that Perry crams every second of film with, but executed as a modern extra from Song of the South, without all the subtlety.

Then again, Madea is more than comic relief. She’s also a mouthpiece for Perry’s opinions, and there are a lot of them. Tyler Perry has a point-by-point blueprint for how black America should live. But he doesn’t need any fancy subtext to deliver his throwback morals: he can just say them in a fat suit. In Madea Goes to Jail, in which Madea goes to jail, the opinions of a borderline psychotic justly removed from civil society are meant to be taken as the unfiltered word of God.

Calling Tyler Perry repressed is a common game among his detractors. I’m going to avoid this for two reasons. First off, Tyler Perry is the last person the LGBT community needs to deal with at this point in history. It’s hard to imagine a worse image for trans people than Perry’s half-assed antics. Secondly, I believe that Tyler Perry is being completely straightforward. He doesn’t have the brainpower to be a closet anything. Living a lie requires having two brain cells to knock together.

Tyler Perry’s career began on stage. If there was a just and loving God, it would have stayed there. I wouldn’t have to walk by six copies of Madea goes to KFC every time I’m in the DVD section. Anyone with the time for theological debates should consider how definitively Meet the Browns supports a god that lives to screw with us. It’s far easier to imagine a Lovecraftian Chaos deity allowing this material to exist. Especially since Perry claims to be divinely inspired. Whatever force moves Perry to make glorified Chick Tracts where he stars as a cross-dressing convict clearly has a vindictive sense of humor, at best.

Of course, all of this ranting is pointless without an example. I found a lost Tyler Perry script in a dumpster behind a strip club. Let’s take a look.

Hip Mama Sambo


WANDA LAKE, a strong independent black woman, sits alone.

I wish I had a man to complete my identity.

A speeding police car crashes into the tree behind WANDA. As smoke billows from the ruined engine, HIP MAMA SAMBO leaps out of the window. The crowd stares in shocked silence as HIP MAMA SAMBO grabs a chicken wing in each hand.

Ooooh baby! Hip Mama Sambo is in the building! How y’all doing?

Please don’t kill me.

Don’t worry honey. Hip Mama Sambo just got out of jail, and isn’t letting the man contain her wacky antics no more. Anyway, Mama heard you was having man trouble, and she’s got the antidote.

…How do you know that?

HIP MAMA SAMBO pulls a Mac 10 out of her comically oversized cleavage and levels it at WANDA.

Mama don’t not have to explain nada bout how she don’t know nothin’.

Crystal clear. Understood. Got it.

Damn! What would you do without Hip Mama to set you straight? Only God knows.

HIP MAMA SAMBO looks directly into the camera.

Only. God.

HIP MAMA SAMBO puts her arm around WANDA, who sweats and shakes in terror. HIP MAMA SAMBO leads her away from the barbecue to a nice clearing free from eavesdroppers and witnesses.

(Desperate, Signing a Hail Mary)
Jesus save me.

Don’t worry honey. He sent me.

S-so what kind of man should I f-find?

Your man needs to be four things: black, Christian, humble, and black. Make sure he hasn’t been corrupted by books or the gay and you’ll be happy for the rest of your life.

T-thank you Hip Mama Sambo. That sounds like my type. My ex-boyfriend was just like that.

HIP MAMA SAMBO turns the safety off on her Mac 10.

Hold up. You had a good Christian black man and didn’t marry him?


That’s just too bad girl. That’s just too bad.

HIP MAMA SAMBO removes his wig. TYLER PERRY glares coldly at WANDA. He paces back and forth in the clearing, as WANDA begins to cry.

Hip Mama Sambo wanted to help you. She really did. But some people can’t be saved.

TYLER PERRY levels his submachine gun at WANDA’s temple.