Black media and the blogosphere has been ablaze these past couple of weeks with news that Tyler Perry might be in talks to get his own television network. Just google it and read the back and forth. Perry elicits some very strong feelings.
Many people think that this is just a natural progression for a media giant who employs black people and gives us a presence that has been dwindling over the past decade. Others feel that the images he puts out for mainstream consumption are doing black people a disservice and maybe he shouldn’t have a larger format to continue this.
So let’s speak plainly. Tyler Perry makes shit. But that’s okay. Why? Because the fact that we can have a Tyler Perry means that we have reached a place in American society where we no longer feel that any media representation we produce must be our best face. The vast majority of American media is vapid bullshit. The visual and audio equivelant to a Krispy Kreme double bacon cheeseburger and it seems to be getting worse every year. And while it is a twisted sort of progress, the fact that we are participating in the production of that vapid bullshit is progress. No other group in this country requires it’s media makers to always think of the “good of the community” when producing. If that was the case, the makers of Jackass would have been thrown out a long time ago. In modern American media there is only one judge and that is money. Tyler Perry makes a lot of it.
Yes, we still have a problem with stereotypes. Yes, we still have a problem with our lack of visibility in mainstream media. However, we are in luck because technology has flattened the media landscape. No longer do we need to head to LA or NY to make media. No longer do we have to beg large studio executives to greenlight our projects. No longer do we need massive funding to tell our stories. For $10,000, the price of a good used car, we can set up a media presence that is global.
So maybe, instead of gnashing our teeth over one guy just doing his thing, we open the doors and make it possible for everyone to get their voice out there and let the best rise to the top.