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Tyler Perry''s Gay Problem

Saw this over at AfterElton. Interesting stuff... Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married Too? shocked absolutely no one by placing a strong #2 in last weekend's box office battle with a $30 million dollar take, but what was shocking and surprising to me was one very blatantly homophobic scene in the movie, as well as the history of stereotypically homophobic elements to Perry's movies that haven’t yet been thoroughly examined. If you haven’t seen the movie and plan to, be warned there are heavy spoilers ahead. The last third of the movie finds Janet Jackson’s Dr. Particia Agnew and her husband Gavin (Malik Yoba) engaged in a bitter divorce that gets increasingly ugly due to his battle for half of the royalties from her book sales. In retaliation, she attempts to humiliate him by bringing an enormous birthday cake to his office and presenting it to him and all of his coworkers filled not with a stripper, but with a flamboyantly gay black man dressed in a miniskirt and neon-colored wig who pops out of the cake in a spray of glitter and gyrates suggestively while It’s Raining Men plays in the background. I’m not making this up, Tyler Perry did. The point of contention here is not that the gay man in question is in drag or effeminate, but that he is used as an over the top spectacle to challenge the masculinity of a character perceived as acting outside of masculine norms by claiming entitlement to his wife’s earnings. What makes a bad situation even worse is that during this man‘s “performance,“ Jackson’s character is screaming a litany of homophobic remarks toward her husband along the lines of (and I’m paraphrasing only slightly) “If you want to be a bitch, here you go!” and “Here’s your bitch!” So, for all of us who are keeping score, gay men are: outrageously feminine, objects of scorn and ridicule for respectable heterosexuals, and freaks that can be used to make an embarrassing public spectacle out of one’s enemy. Yep, got it. Due to a well-documented history of general awesomeness surrounding gay folks, I’m inclined to give Ms. Jackson a pass on this, but Mr. Perry gets no such luck. In fact, this is only the latest example of homophobia I’ve noticed in his movies. The original Why Did I Get Married was a similar-sized box-office hit that also had its own share of questionable portrayals of gays. In a very brief scene near the beginning, a flamboyant older white gay couple (dressed in pink, no less) is seen giving attitude to Tasha Smith’s firecracker of a character Angela. Her reaction to the two, while not as blatantly homophobic as the treatment of the lone gay presence onscreen in the sequel, portrays yet another takedown of obviously gay characters for the desired approval of Tyler Perry’s predominantly African-American, churchgoing audience. But Perry can be an equal opportunity offender. His movie Madea Goes to Jail featured - what else - a big, butch, tattooed lesbian hell bent on “claiming” the pretty young inmate and prostitute played by Cosby kid Keisha Knight Pulliam. I’ll leave the irony of a man who made his fortune by dressing in drag trading in offensive images of gays in his movies up to others comment on. What I will say is that once is curious, twice is upsetting, but three times borders on pathological, and it leads one to wonder why Perry feels the need to include such deeply negative and stereotypical images of gays in his movies. Of course, Perry’s movies are predominantly made for the aforementioned African-American, churchgoing audience, but believe me when I tell you that there is a sizable fan base of gays of all colors who are fans of his movies for their absurd melodramatic shock value alone. It's true that the films themselves are mostly badly written and stiffly-acted morality tales with lessons right out of Sunday School, plot twists telegraphed in strokes so broad a toddler could see them coming, and characters who lack the depth to be one-dimensional. (rest at link...)

http://www.afterelton.com/people/2010/04/tyler-perrys-gay-problem?page=0,0


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