Tyler Perry might be one of the most successful men in the entertainment industry, having built a movie and TV empire, but the producer, director and actor still faces his fair share of critics.
Perry, 46, has come under fire from people who believe that his films are damaging to the black community by exploiting black stereotypes in the characters he creates.
But Perry admits that he’s surprised by the backlash.
“Let me tell you what took me aback about that,” he told New York magazine. “When people were like, ‘How dare you put fat black people on television, these are caricatures, these are stereotypes’ – I was so offended because my aunt’s fat. My mother’s fat. My cousins are fat.’ People who are like, ‘How dare you – these harken back to Mammy, Amos ‘n’ Andy.’ I would hear all these things, and I would go, hmmm.”
One of Perry’s critics is fellow director Spike Lee, who previously called out Perry’s television shows, claiming that they have set black America back in progress. Perry later responded to Lee’s words, telling the director to “shut the hell up.”
And while the two have since ended their feud, Perry opened up about why Lee shouldn’t be so quick to make those comments, warning that it could have a negative effect on both men.
“There’s a lot of my audience that likes what he does. And there’s a lot of his audience that likes what I do,” he said. “When you make those kind of broad, general strokes, and you paint your audiences in them, they go, ‘Wait a minute, are you talking about me? Are you talking about my mom?’ ”