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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

T. Jakes Vs. T. Perry; 6 Of One, Half A Dozen Of The Other


Which means to say, what's the difference?

There are way more similarities then differences, for sure, but there are some distinct separations that make me prefer one (albeit only very slightly!) over the other...more on that in a bit...

Received this from Kim over at the Punkin Patch in my email:

Hey IW:

A friend of mine just sent me a link to the trailer of Tyler Perry's next movie "Madea Goes to Jail" (http://www.madeagoestojailmovie.com/). I don't know if you've seen or not but it looks like standard TP fare. I am beginning to wonder if Tyler Perry likes women. In all his movies some distressed, abused, down on her luck woman always has to be saved by a "good man". Usually the good man is 'light-skinded'. But this time he chose a chocolate brother Derek Luke to be the savior. And why do all these women have to either be a drug-addict, single momma with babies by different men, and now a prostitute??? Between him and the good Bishop TD Jakes (his new movie looks like its putting down professional black women who choose career over poppin out babies for their poor, long-suffering good man), I don't think these men have much love for the sistas. I'd love to hear your opinion. Thanks!

Kim

From IW: Hmmm. Let me begin by saying this...I have to admit, Perry playing Madea usually doesn't bother me (tho it seems to infuriate a lot of men), but for some reason these pix were positively creepy to me. For the first time I got a flash of repulsion that the most vocal men on the subject must be feeling...it seemed...downgrading in some way.

I know, I know--we have discussed Perry many times on this blog, and for the new readers, I have made it clear that his films do not move me. I don't know if it's because I was raised Catholic that I can't relate, as I find his stories simplistic, trite, formulaic, repetitive, unrealistic, and ultimately just plain boring. I have no problem with others enjoying them, tho, and I let it lie there....but if he never made another project ever again, I would not be one to miss him for a second.


I have never really discussed T.D. Jakes and his films (well, I've only seen one until this new one). I thought "Woman, Thou Art Loosed" was absolutely awe-inspiring in it's awfulness; besides the cinematography and editing equating to the works of an 8 year old. But the storyline, a woman who is the victim of incest by her stepfather who is made out to be the villain instead of him, until everyone, (including said sick raping pedophile) comes to forgiveness and redemption, without anyone--except for the real victim-- suffering or being punished at any point. I found it disgusting and irresponsible, further perpetuating the "act like it never happened" protocol in the black community.

But at least T.D. Jakes' situations are based in realism, which is a lot more than I can say for Perry, and his films give pause for thought here and there. Yes, Tyler and Jakes' movies have a very faith based gospel flavoring, and the "good man can cure all" morals are getting very tired, cause we all know very well that it usually isn't that black and white. It is also possible for a single Black woman not to have multiple social and personality issues, which are central themes in both of their projects. And I don't know about y'all, but sometimes I just don't feel like forgiving some folks, and I don't want it hammered in my head over and over again that I must do it at all costs.

But I almost (and almost is a big deal for me) enjoyed "Not Easily Broken". I went in with low expectations for my typical superficial reasons--I knew Taraji P. Henson's weave was going to be way off the wack-o-meter, and I cannot emphasize enough in this lifetime how much I can. not. stand. Kevin Hart. Who the f*ck told this dude that he was funny? If anyone out there thinks he is, please drop a comment about why you do--I'd be very, very interested to know.


But I digress....the other thing that made me skeptical is that Taraji's acting most of the time rubs me the wrong way...it is sometimes just...too much. Her black chick yelling makes me want to leave the theatre at some point. She is in all of her glory with that here, and it is starkly noticeable against Morris Chestnut's (looking foin as hayell!) very low-key steelo, but she makes up for it at the end with some quieter, thoughtful moments, so I forgave her. Bill Duke (who directed), a huge fave of mine, also made me a bit more hopeful.

For those of you that don't know, "Not Easily Broken" is the semi-classic situation of a married couple growing in two separate directions, one having boo-jee ambitions, while the other one preferring a simpler life. A car accident changes their relationship and stretches it to the breaking point, though the injury was pretty slight in my opinion to cause all the drama.

But at least there were realistic situations that I could relate to, always absent with me with Perry. Mother-in-law blues (played with an off the hook hilarity and realism by Black film staple Jenifer Lewis), keeping up with the Jones', hiding behind appearances, the importance of knowing most of us are exactly the same (even the ones we hate the most) are all addressed here. And yes, forgiveness was the key theme and moral in this film, but at least this time I didn't feel like gagging up my Raisinets when it was brought about, despite all of the hellacious cheap soap opera music abound on the screen.

I say a definite rent, if you're into this sort of thing.


Here is the trailer for "Madea Goes To Jail"; proceed at your own risk....

28 comments:

bluebird said...

I will say that Tyler Perry's plays are better left in that form instead of being adapted to the big screen. I am ready for Black cinema to take on a whole new level, and I feel like Tyler Perry could do it...by being a producer instead of writer/director of his films.

I was listening to CinemaBlend's podcast and the host said he was expecting awfulness from Not Easily Broken, but he actually enjoyed. Though he said Taraji P. Henson was terrible which surprises me because she's gettin all this buzz for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. hmmm...in Benjamin Button I think she does a good job, but it's something I've seen before I'm sure...

madame z said...

IW thanks for this entire post. It speaks for me as well (except being not being raised Catholic). I've never seen any of TDJakes films simply because I had no desire...I didn't want to be preached to...literally. I DON'T want to be preached to. I'm a heathen, though I was raised to be a good Christian woman, but somewhere along the way, I relented, rebelled, saw the light, shook it off, whatever and I just can't take films like this. I've seen a number of Perry's plays and while I enjoy the comedy of Madea, the caricature that perpetuates (shaking my head at this) I always fast-forward through the 'singing' as again, I don't want to be preached to or gospel-screamed at...though I know millions love that kind of thing; hence Perry's success.

I have to wonder too, our most successful films feel like good Christian flicks; they 'are' good Christian flicks that are wholesome family fun for everyone regardless the subject matter, lessons are learned, goodness and godliness prevails and negro spirituals maintain their stay in the realm of Black folk posterity.

Do.Not.Want.Anymore.

I do like a variety; I 'want' for a variety in 'our' films, but it does 'us' a disservice when all we get, rather all that we're known for, all that we are more successful with are these type films. I know there's variety out there, but hardly in the mainstream and whose to say those 'other' types of film wouldn't appeal to the masses just as well?

Perry will continue to make his millions as millions will continue to flock to his brand of cinema. TD Jakes will continue to make his millions 'saving' the masses. I can't really 'hate', per se, but I can shake my head sadly and want and hope for 'more'. I'll rent the Perry film.....I feel Madea Goes to Jail is definitely one of his funniest plays and I hope the movie at least reflects that humor without getting too too bogged down with dogmatic pretense.

clnmike said...

You know I am not a fan of the Church flick genre, not to my taste in a movie theater setting.

And all though I agree their movies from a technical stand point leave a lot to be desired.
But there seems to a lot of people who would like to blame them for not making the movies they wanted to see and than wishing the genre to go away.

So here is what I dont understand, why do people walk into Burger King and leave mad because steamed lobster and shrimp were not on the menu?

It's Burger King!

It is what it is and so are Perry and Jakes productions.

Low budget Christian moral tales, were the message is emphasised over the delivery.

And a genre that makes money because there is an audience out there that these movies speak to, and I am glad that they have seat reserved for them in the theaters.

We should all have one, I am not going to be mad with these two because they didnt make the black
Casablanca.

Thats like a femminist walking into a strip club and being mad that there are women taking their clothes off for men's pleasure and money.

?!?!?!!

Ni$%#a you are in a strip club!

The big ass sign on the door says "big booty gurls makes bottles disapear with no hands."

Samething with the producers of these movies you get what they present because they aint thinking about you there thinking about their target audience, who they budget around.

I cant be mad at them for that.

Whew that felt good.

Now sorry for the rant but I have come across to many post this week that seemed unreasonable about these films and I had to bust one somwhere and your site always looks good.

RiPPa said...

Hey IW...

Longtime lurker, first time commenter...

I loved your breakdown of these movies. I am not a fan of either, but if I had to choose one I'd go with T.V. Cakes.

I'm not really big on the church thing, so definitely the thought of going to see a movie with a bunch of old Black ladies with ugly hats and church fans is a turnoff in itself.

As you stated, Mr.Perry
s movies are unrealistic. Well, the few that I've seen anyway. I'm not so much as concerned as him being in drag most of the time as I am with the idea that he sells a fantasy to Black people.

Sure I'm glad that we have Black film makers making moves. But at what cost? Is life that bad for us folk that we have to rely of Star Trek to make us feel better about ourselves?

But I guess this is a well designed ploy of appealing to the upper crust of Black society...

and the church folk.

I don;t care if Madea Goes to the White House, I know I damn sure won't be seeing it. If he really wants to keep it real? he should do more movies with messed up Black male spouses as the focus rather than sistas with issues. Not saying that there's a shortage of them, but there are some messed up sistas that have drove their men to drink a time or two.

"And I don't know about y'all, but sometimes I just don't feel like forgiving some folks, and I don't want it hammered in my head over and over again that I must do it at all costs."

That line right there cracked me up!

Midnight Raver said...

You know I wonder how many Black directors and screen writers are told no to projects they want to do because some studio head has said "Why do you come back to us with a Tyler Perry, TD Jakes,like project or a Urban crime film or a funny film with snoop dogg smoking weed.

I just refuse to believe that there are no good black cinema projects out there.

Is it that they are out there and no major studio wants to take a chance because they don't think it will make money ?

Please someone help me out here.

Can we get some good black cinema that is well filmed, acted, written, and directed that does nothave the following: Baby Daddies/Mamas,Church, Good man/woman solves all, love of family solves all, Big Mama like character, going to jail, wanna be a rapper, type cinema.

I'll only watch "Madea Goes To Jail" if she gets shanked to death behind bars.

uglyblackjohn said...

Your title says it all for me.

Harlepolis said...

I think Tyler Perry is somewhat capable of doing an intelligent film(even if it has its generic moments here & there) if he wants to, like "Why Did I Get Married?". Comparing to the usual coonery he always makes, that movie was a noticeable improvement.

But coonery has always been appreciated in American media, thats why people like Tyler Perry have a steady income,,,,and a damn FAT one @ that.

In defence of T.D. Jakes. I think he wants to put a different spin from the typical "Anti-black male" driven movies,,,,at least in his new movie.

BTW Morris Chestnut is lucky,,,,considering that the man has VERY limited acting chop and still get employed among flimmakers.

Kim said...

So here is what I dont understand, why do people walk into Burger King and leave mad because steamed lobster and shrimp were not on the menu?

It's Burger King!

It is what it is and so are Perry and Jakes productions.

Low budget Christian moral tales, were the message is emphasised over the delivery.


True, True Clnmike. However, anyone whose been involved in the church, churchfolk or attended church regularly, know that life is not so simplistic as those "low budget Christian moral tales" Jakes and Perry tell. People are not that two-dimensional. I'd just like to see a little more depth to these movies and maybe a more honest portrayal about black life.

And can we get a more well-rounded portrayal of black women and men?? I guess its like the hood movies of the 90s and the Morris Chesnut/Vivica Fox/Gabrielle Union formula movies of the 2000s; Hollywood sees one successful formula and runs it into the ground instead of offering a variety of images of black life. Maybe TP and Jakes wouldn't irk me so much if Hollywood offered other types of movies. As it stands I have to come to sites like this to find out about other types of movies being made by black folk.

Beckie said...

Clnmicke said, "...not a fan of the Church flick genre." WHOA. You mean this ish is now a genre? Say it ain't so!! That makes my tummy ache. IW, you're right on the money all day long. I'm not understanding what's compelling actors and actresses to sell themselves short and star in this garbagenre. Loretta Devine, Angela Bassett, Alfre Woodard, Kathy Bates...they all should have no better than to validate the hot mess that Perry excretes. I used to believe persistence was a trait to be admired on its own, but now I realize that persistence, tenacity and fortitude must be coupled with talent, intellect and class for it to be valuable. Perry's body of work ought to be tagged and burned at the stake.

SDG said...

I remain unmoved by all of it. No interest what so ever. Call me indifferent if you will, but when I see some inspired film making, I'll pay the $$ for it.

Marvalus said...

You know...I agree with Mike...don't watch these movies expecting something different; you know what you are going to get.

TP is making movies for HIS audience. He has built a fan base and he is directly catering to it. All of us who crave something deeper go and see other movies...but the types of movies that he makes will not change as long as he continues to make money off of them hand over fist.

It is sad that "they" don't realize that we have brains and creative minds and are really no different than Becky and Tom who want to see a complicated love story, or action thriller, or any other type of movie than Madea or one with a message that you need to give up your career and have that man's baby or he is going to leave you.

Tha Connoisseur said...

I can rant for DAYS regarding Tyler and those pics, however I found a better phrase for my summation:

WTFH???!!!

Thank you. :)

MusicLover said...

I like Tyler Perry's plays and movies. I'm looking forward to seeing Madea Goes to Jail; from the previews it looks funny. I want to see Not Easily Broken too, it looks good.

boris said...

Taraji P. Henson i find is one of those meh actresses. she needs abit more charisma. she was pretty forgetable in benjamin button

how can you hate Kevin Hart. ok hes not so funny on comic view but hes sooo hilarious is movies. u should try see "Paper Soldiers". thast like Rocafella Films'(dame dash/jay-z etc) best flick

the old media films werent as good as the plays but this new one looks reeeeeal funny. i kinda burst out in some bits of the trailer. BUT, i dont get those creeeepy arse promo pics of media. especially the blode/silver weave and MAC blood clot lipstick. tyler........are these cognitive pleasures?????

Kim said...

Boris:

Did you just say 'Paper Planes' was one of Rocafella's best pictures?? LOL! Isn't that like saying not invading Iran was one of Bush's better ideas??? LOL!

NaturallyAlise said...

I am usually a lurker round these parts, but I wanted to comment to say I couldn't put my finger on it, but you hit exactly what I was feeling about TP's films... the whole captain save'em theme, where having a good man is what saves the day, and the women always being played as the bad guy. When I think of all the plays (or any "gospel plays")that I have had to sit through, that is always the theme.

SolShine7 said...

I actually enjoy Tyler Perry and T.D. Jakes' movies. They're not Oscar worthy but they're decent films that make me laugh and sometimes get teary-eyed.

I like the church settings and Christian themes. With all the R-rated films out there it's good to know that inspirational stories are being told, those with the intent to inspire. I'm not saying that R-rated movies can't be inspirational too because films like Schindler's List are excellent and display the beauty of humanity in a more gritty three-dimensional way. A film like Fireproof or Facing the Giants would be a white equvuilvant to Jakes and Perry's genre. Or some movies on Lifetime or Hallmark have a similar over-the-top characterizations.

What I do have a problem with is the lack of diversity. Black films should be more than tales from the ghetto and tales from the church. There's a lot of unique stories still not being captured in Hollywood films. I really hope that that some of them get told.

clnmike said...

Kim,

Why does TP and TD have to be the ones to provied more when their audiences are happy?

Beckie,

Yup this is definitely it's own genre of film.

[***Fresh&Fab***] said...

hilarious, i cant for that one

msladydeborah said...

Neither of these films will be getting my hard earned entertainment dollars.

I tried to read Not Easily Broken and could not get into it. I may attempt it again-but I really do not feel motivated to see this particular film. Primarily because it just is not sounding interesting to me as a viewer. I haven't heard anyone that I know personally even talk about seeing it.

Tyler Perry is about making money. I learned something from my mom about hard economic times and the movies. Folks will scrape up funds to go see Madea Goes to Jail just to escape the reality of life in the moment. He has built a base of fans based on a formula. But I am not feeling Perry either.

Now Benjamin Button is an outstanding film. I watched on line last Sunday. Taraji's role is not that great of a stretch because she is playing a black woman who has issues. Her strong point performance wise is how she adapts to the aging process in the film.

So until T.D. and Perry hit the home shopping network-I will not be viewing their films.

I wish that black movies would become more diverse in topic matter!

Invisible Woman said...

@bluebird: i agree, i love the madea plays...somehow they lose something in translation to screen.

i also think taraji's performances are based on who's directing her--she really needs direction to give a balanced performance imho

@madame z: you had a lot to say here,my dear lol! i love it

i agree, i think what gets to me most is the preachiness of it all...i wouldn't care a wit about jakes or perry if we received more choices in wide release

@clnmike: "I had to bust one somwhere and your site always looks good."

I don't know whether to be flattered, or to be scared, lol!

was that comment directed at me, or the public at large? i don't have any problems with jake and perry on a whole, and usually just see the movies for the purpose of this blog....i'm never really expecting much.

what i personally have a problem with, however, is the way things like incest and Black women are portrayed--most of the women, if not all of them, are seen as either desperate, poverty ridden, addicted, or frigid. They both (Peery and Jakes) have a lot of ears and eyes in our community, and there should be some type of accountability for subject matter....

btw, i'll send you my drycleaning bill in the morning!

@rippa: don't worry,i lurk on your blog too! haha

i agree, perry is selling fantasy, which is ok for a time, but over and over? c'mon, make some freakin' new tunes! there is so much about our culture that is genuine, and still very interesting. I'm not down with him really until he tries that route.

Invisible Woman said...

@midnight raver: "I just refuse to believe that there are no good black cinema projects out there"

that's good, cause there are; they are just relegated to the outback. if there is an intelligent or creative movie, we MUST support it, cause H'Wood only sees green, and they have absolutely no respect for our community.If good Black Cinema starts to make money (which I think we might see this year) we be unundated (sp?) with it.

@uglyblackjohn: short and sweet, for reals, for reals...

@harlepolis: do you really think perry can make an intelligent film? i am starting to have my doubts....

morris chestnut always seems to do fine to me--i thought he was right for this role, then again i could have just been blinded by his...ummm...brilliance--yeah that's it! haha :-)

@kim: i wouldn't even have that much of an issue with td and perry if we were seeing other types of Black Cinema on such a large scale besides ice cube's bullsh*t movies.

Invisible Woman said...

@beckie: "I'm not understanding what's compelling actors and actresses to sell themselves short and star in this garbagenre. Loretta Devine, Angela Bassett, Alfre Woodard, Kathy Bates...they all should have no better than to validate the hot mess that Perry excretes"

yeah, but they don't, and that makes me me very, very sad :-(

@SDG: i see them for the love of my blog and readers--not really my first choice of viewing

@ms m: of course you and mike are right. but because we have such very limited choicesin wide release, and beacuse they are influential, that makes it all the more important that they actually do some real thinking about what they put out ther, at least for now.

@tha c: when you find out, PLEASE let me know!

@boris: the plays are really good, yes? i don't know what happens to the films. taraji doesn't move me much either.

Kevin Hart AND Paper Soldiers? Boris, Boris, Boris...I don't even know what to say...lol!

Invisible Woman said...

@music lover: not easily broken was surprisingly OK

@kim: "Isn't that like saying not invading Iran was one of Bush's better ideas???" for reals!

@NaturallyAlise: hi there! thanks for commenting--hope to see more :-)

yeah, it's the same ol' same ol' all the time...

@solshine7: "There's a lot of unique stories still not being captured in Hollywood films. I really hope that that some of them get told."

that's my exact problem, all day long

@clnmike: see my comment to ms. m on that one...

@fresh and fab: hey girl....i really enjoyed the play--hope the film can capture some of that

@mslady: yes, Tyler is ALL about making money, and that is ultimately the very problem i have with him...in movies and TV

clnmike said...

No it was directed to the public at large.

I cant get worked up about a genre specific movie that doesnt speak to me.

The only thing i can fault Perry for is not taking the craft seriously, the subject matter....eh.

noelanimahana said...

Hi IW,

I'm late on this topic, but I'll throw my two cents in anyway. I find Tyler Perry films to be one-dimensional and boring.

Having said that, I believe there is a place for him and TD Jakes in "black film" but the issue I have is that, unlike the whole of Hollywood, we don't have enough variety and balance. It's like someone stated in this thread, earlier ... studios see a bit of success with one type of film and run with it.

This happens with the whole of Hollywood as well, but unlike "Black Cinema" we can see the garbage with the gems. It seems all we get is street lit translated to film , buffoonery passed off as comedy (soul plane) and I need a good man silliness (two can play that game and all of Tyler's stuff).

Where's the balance ... I know where ... in no man's land.

bklyn6 said...

Don't drop the soap Tyler...um, Madea.

Ashe Hunt said...

Just recently found your blog and have been reading the posts in reverse. Finally had to post something. Love what your doing. Pretty much agree with your opinion of black cinema so far. Love you for saying Kevin Hart sucks. I. Can't. Stand. Him. Either!! Keep doing what your doing.

Boris: Paper Soldiers has to be one of the worst movies ever to waste film. I hope your taste grows up.