I kid, I kid, but I’m also kind of serious. When someone mentions Tyler Perry, it’s only fair to think of him dressing up in old lady drag, bible thumping, and moralizing about how women shouldn’t open their legs for any good looking dude like they are a 24-hour Golden Corral. (Seriously, did you see Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor? Way to send a message to women that if they are not faithful, they’re going to get AIDS and everyone will hate them. UGH!)
But here’s the thing: Ty Ty isn’t the owner of these kinds of movie tropes, so it’s about time we stop acting like it and recognize other movies that rely on these storytelling motifs. For example:
The Hooker With a Heart of GoldWhen your job is being the personification of a sneeze guard at a salad bar while gross dudes sweat all over you during sexy times, you’re naturally plucky and let your guard down for lost souls, right? Well, according to Hollywood, yes. And if you’re thinking about this kind of character, you might be reminded of drug addict/prostitute Candy in Tyler Perry’s Madea Goes to Jail. However, as we all know, the hooker with the heart of gold is not a TP creation. Let’s not forget one of the OGs of Miss Congeniality at the Heaux Olympics: Miss Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. She had a toothy smile, sass for days, and loved singing Prince in the bathroom. Not to mention, she kissed super sad businessman Richard Gere on the lips — which is a no-no in her field, but he’s a wounded and gorgeous, so c’mon, who’s passing on a smooch from him?
The Bible, DUH!Perry got his start in the theater way back in 1992 with I Know I’ve Been Changed, his first play/musical that included Christian themes of forgiveness, dignity, and self-worth, while touching on other issues such as child abuse and dysfunctional families. Ever since, religion has played a key role in his storytelling with an emphasis on people either losing their way spiritually or religion saving the day. While his whole empire is built on this foundation, if you think any movie that has Christian themes is automatically a Tyler Perry production, you’re wrong. Teen heartthrob turned born-again Christian Kirk Cameron made an about face in the ’90s and decided to make movies with a message such as his direct-to-video Left Behind series. Cheesy? Yes. But chock full of JC teachings.
White Peen Is EvilOK, OK, so Perry never came out and explicitly stated this in any of his movies, but it’s been implied. In his 2008 movie The Family That Preys, Andrea (Sanaa Lathan) has an affair with her white, married, and wealthy co-worker William (Cole Hauser), who is shadier than a palm tree. Moral of the story: Andrea should have never stepped out on her blue-collar black husband — who is just sweet and innocent — because William doesn’t leave his wife for her and denies that he is the father of her baby. Yep, that’s real Worst Person Alive Hall of Fame material. BUT it’s not just Perry who wants to warn the world about evil white peen. There’s also a movie called My Mom. J/K. She loves my white boyfriend. In all seriousness, Christian Bale in American Psycho and Mark Wahlberg in Fear are examples that prove that this is not merely a TP trope.
Money/Ambition Is Evil, Too!Both The Family That Preys and Good Deeds touch on how being too ambitious/obsessed makes you unhappy. In Preys, William is willing to screw over anyone in his family for get control of the family business; meanwhile, Deeds titular character Wesley Deeds (Tyler Perry) is a workaholic with the perfect and equally successful wife whose life is changed when he meets a cleaning lady (Thandie Newton) who works at his company. Long story short, he learns that money ain’t everything and quits his CEO job to discover himself by traveling the world with the lower-class Lindsey by his side. Money bad! Lower class people — who are gorgeous like Newton, obvs — are good! While it is ironic that Perry, whose empire is now worth $400 million dollars, is constantly making stories about the ills of money, he’s not the only filmmaker who makes that case. Wall Street, The Wolf of Wall Street, and basically any other movie about the stock market are about how men ruin themselves in the pursuit of the almighty dollar.
The Old Lady As Comic Relief#RealTalk, Madea exists to mispronounce super basic phrases like “Good morning” and tell it like it is while threatening to hit someone with her purse. But most importantly, her character pops up in movies that deal with heavy topics such as abuse and divorce and her jokes give the audience a break from feeling sad. While this is most certainly a Tyler Perry technique, he’s not the only one who does it. Practically everything Betty White has been in since 2009’s rom-com The Proposal is all about her bringing the LOLs as the old lady who says inappropriate things, but is charming nonetheless (…because she’s cute and old).
[insert sliding pic of Any Madea movie/Betty White in the Proposal]
The Stereotypically Sassy Black WomanAgain, Madea fits this to a T, but so does Lytia Wright (Cocoa Brown) in Perry’s The Single Moms Club. Trust me when I say there is plenty of neck swiveling, funny quips, and “Grrrrrl,” when a hot dude appears on the scene in that movie. But this is not a Perry trope; this is a Hollywood thing. Whether it’s a drama or a comedy, there is always a brown lady around who is going tell it like it is while eating a Lean Cuisine. Like Stacey Dash in Clueless. Or Tracie Thoms in The Devil Wears Prada. Or Viola Davis in Eat, Pray, Love. I think the better question would be, “Name a romantic comedy with a black female character who isn’t a sassy black friend.” Go ahead, take your time. I’ll be here waiting.
[Photo Credit: Getty Images]