Spike Lee on Tyler Perry and black imagery in entertainment


Here's the transcript of this clip from Black Enterprise

[8:55] Ed Gordon: There is a school of thought that says we’re not diversifying our imagery enough in our community. Yet there are certain images, whether they be in plays or movies or music that we flock to whether we admit it or not.  I am wondering--is that just the black middle class saying “No, that is not what we want” with a lot of us wanting it?

[9:18] Spike Lee: This is a complex subject because each artist should be allowed to pursue their artistic endeavors. But I still think a lot of stuff that is on today is coonery buffoonery. And I know it’s making a lot of money, breaking records--but we can do better.  That’s just my opinion.  I’m a huge basketball fan. And when I watch the games on TNT, I see these two ads for these two shows and I am scratching my head.  We have a black president--are we going back to Mantan Moreland and Sleep n’ Eat?

[10:12] Ed Gordon: Yet, if those films--I mean, we’re talking about Tyler Perry at this point. No, no I mean look--let’s not give them fodder for tabloids. I am not saying we’re talking about Tyler Perry, but those are the shows we’re talking about. If we’re talking about that and we look at the numbers that come, and see his movies, and view the shows on TBS--my question is, is that, in fact, maybe what black America wants to see?  I hear a lot of NOs in the audience, but there are a lot of people watching it.
 
[10:50] Spike Lee: We’ve had this discussion back and forth. When John Singleton--people came out to see Boys in the Hood.  He did Rosewood, nobody showed up.  So a lot of this is on us. You vote with your pocketbook, your wallet. You vote with your time, sitting in front of the idiot box. And the man has a huge audience. Tyler is very smart with what he’s done.  He started out with these plays, and church busses would pull up, packed, and he’s parlayed it. He’s bought his own jet.  If you can buy a jet you have money. But at the same time, for me, just--the imagery is troubling.

And the full 20-minute interview

 

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