Tyler Perry on Spike Lee’s Criticism: ‘It Stung’

Tyler Perry’s movies and shows are loved by millions of fans, but his popular Madea character has not always been a hit. Perry’s peers, including Spike Lee and Dave Chappelle, have accused him of promoting negative stereotypes of Black women to the masses. In a new interview, Perry explains how Lee’s criticism stung him the most. 

Tyler Perry
Tyler Perry | JEAN-BAPTISTE LACROIX/AFP via Getty Images

A recap of Spike Lee’s criticism of Tyler Perry

Lee is known for his socially and racially conscious films. His work explores the triumphs and struggles of the Black experience. Most of his work is praised by critics for pushing the envelope, addressing race, and being thought-provoking.

Perry caters to a different audience from Lee. His famed Madea character is inspired by the women in his life – including his mother and aunts – whom he views as the backbone of his family. He uses Madea to also model what he views as strong as far as the idea of the Black matriarch.

Source: YouTube

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Perry’s films are hugely successful, but not everyone is a fan. Many believe that the Madea character perpetuates negative stereotypes of Black women as being loud. For a long time, Lee shared the same sentiments. He once said of Perry’s Madea character during an interview:

“I know it’s making a lot of money and breaking records, but we can do better. I am a huge basketball fan, and when I watch the games on TNT, I see these two ads for these two shows (Tyler Perry’s ‘Meet the Browns’ and ‘House of Payne’) and I am scratching my head. … We got a Black president and we going back to Mantan Moreland and Sleep ‘n’ Eat?”

Spike Lee

Tyler Perry says Spike Lee’s criticism of his work ‘stung’

Perry has done a good job of ignoring the chatter regarding his work. Still, that does not mean criticism has not hurt him, particularly from Lee. Per The Jasmine Brand, Perry speaks of the pain of Lee’s criticism in a new interview.

“If any criticisms stung, it would have been his, because I had so much respect and admiration for him,” Perry admits. “People’s opinions are their opinions, but that doesn’t negate the fact of the work that he’s done. And he’s due the honor of having a stage named after him and more than that.”

Source: YouTube

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Perry says that despite Lee’s past comments, he’s happy about where they are now. He recalls finally having a sit down with Lee about Lee’s grievances with him and how the two have been able to move forward.

“I opened the door. I said, ‘Come in here, so I can beat your a**.’ And [Lee] said, ‘Fair enough.’ And we sat and we had a conversation,” Perry says. “He laid out his views and his opinions, which I respected. And he heard mine, and he respected them. So we can both exist in the same world with very different views and opinions and still respect each other.”

Lee has since had a change of heart. He praises Perry for providing Black talent with consistent work. He’s supported Perry at many of Perry’s major events recently, including the grand opening of the new Tyler Perry Studios.