Must Read: Tyler Perry Speaks From The Heart
People talk all kinds of trash about Tyler Perry these days. I can hear them now: “His characters are lowest-common-denominator and run-of-the-mill, stereotypical, loud, aggressive, marijuana-smoking, uneducated…”, etc.
What many of these people forget to say is that the overall messages of hope, forgiveness, and redemption – delivered in a knee-slapping, tear-jerking good time – resonate with audiences to the point they’ve earned him nearly $400 million worldwide. Hope, forgiveness and redemption are qualities Tyler Perry knows a great deal about; find out just how much after the jump.
All of Perry’s characters are by no means uneducated, aggressive, and stereotypical. While a prominent few are, the man nearly always has African-American lawyers in his films (but I digress).
For those who follow Tyler Perry’s career via e-mail subscriptions to his website (where the message, in its entirety, may be read) you’ve probably already read this or had it forwarded to you. Inspired by the movie that both he and Oprah Winfrey are funding for free, Precious, the man born Emmitt Perry, Jr. decided to share some of his most painful and hidden-away life experiences with fans and supporters. These experiences include a great deal of abuse, pain, insecurity and struggle against many of the people that were supposed to love and care for him the most: family and friends. Much of Perry’s abuse came at the hands of his very own father, as he has made clear in several television interviews as well as in this particular e-mail message/blog.
“It brought back memories so strong that I can smell and taste them. Like, when I was very young, my mother decided to leave my father…she had had enough of his insanity. She loaded me and my two sisters up in an old Cadillac that he had bought for her, and drove to California. When he realized she was gone, he called the police and reported the car stolen, as it was in his name. My mother was arrested and my two sisters and I were put in the cell with her. He and my uncle drove from Louisiana to California to get us. We spent several days in jail waiting for him. He bailed her out and couldn’t wait to get her into the car. He got into the back seat with us and beat her black and blue from California to Louisiana, as me and my sisters watched Even though I was only two or three, I know that this had to have some effect on me.”
Here’s a trailer of Precious starring Mo’Nique and Mariah Carey among others – the film that inspired the message:
This topic hits very close to me, as the entire history of my family tree is enshrouded in abuse, both physical and sexual. I come from a long line of survivors, both male and female, of some of the worst offenses imaginable. Those offenses were often inflicted by family, as has also been the case in many a celebrity biography (and Lifetime movie). Many times, it seems that the family can be the single source of both the support as well as the deepest pains that one can experience; these two extreme opposite forces can either work toward the development or the destruction of the individual faced with them. But back to Perry…
The beauty of this story is Tyler Perry did not bring these things up for your sympathy (or mine, for that matter). He brought these things up in order to forgive those who inflicted these painful scars upon him and to thank God that he made it through.
Here’s another excerpt for you:
“I was asked recently how I made it through all of this, (half has not even been told) and my answer to that is…I know for a fact that there is a GOD. When my father would say or do those things to me, I would hear this voice inside of me say, “That’s not true ” or, “Don’t believe that ” or, “You’re going to make it through this “. I didn’t know at the time what “it ” was, but today I surely have no doubt that “it ” was GOD. That voice always gave me comfort. It allowed me to hold on. It kept me from being strung out on drugs, from dying when I wanted to commit suicide. It kept me from being a gang banger or drug dealer. Worse than all of those things put together, it kept me from being him. It brought angels to comfort me after every foul, harsh word or every welt on my legs or back GOD, only GOD.”
I’m not trying to get my preach on or anything, and I understand there are people of many religions and backgrounds looking at these articles. The most important thing here is the forgiveness that Tyler Perry speaks of. He talks about wishing that he had agreed to pay for the funeral of the man who molested him because he believes that there is “something so powerful to me in burying the man that molested me. I wish I would have dug the grave myself.” He goes on to refer to forgiveness as his ‘weapon of choice’ and credits it with freeing him. In the post (or e-mail) entitled “We’re All PRECIOUS In His Sight,” Perry encourages the reader to try forgiveness as well.
In closing, the next time you or someone else starts to say unflattering things about Tyler Perry’s films – films which center around forgiveness, redemption, and undying hope (and a cast of very colorful and comedic characters, of course) – just remember that he speaks, writes, and creates from experience.
Precious is due in theaters on November 6, 2009.
Photo Credit: Shine4Ever