Tyler Perry has long been dogged over his signature character, Madea, and stereotypes some feel she upholds — but he’s defending himself … especially against Spike Lee.
The movie studio mogul sat for an interview with Chris Wallace as part of his new program on HBO Max — “Who’s Talking to Chris Wallace” — which was scrapped from CNN+ … and repurposed on their main streaming app.
Chris asks Tyler about a criticism that Lee once lobbed against him in describing his Madea movies — in which he called the character and/or those movies “coonery buffoonery” in ’09.
From Spike’s POV … Madea is a caricature of Black people, women in particular, and he thinks it’s a cheap, over-the-top impersonation that Tyler has monetized with a lot of success. There are at least 10 movies of his in which the character appears.
While TP was once quoted as saying Spike can “go to hell,” he’s a bit more nuanced in explaining why he loves the character and the thinking behind her makeup. He says Madea represents women he grew up around, whose stories he wanted to convey in a humorous way … with truth sprinkled in. In other words, he seems to see it as an homage.
Tyler also invokes Langston Hughes and the Harlem Renaissance to reinforce his point … noting this convo has been happening way before Spike’s salvo.
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Now, it should be noted … this old beef, while still discussed today, seems to be long and buried. Back in 2019, when Tyler opened his movie studio lot in Georgia, Spike was actually among the many famous guests who came to check it out. And TP even named one of the sound stages after him … telling us at the time that his legacy was bigger than their feud.