Tyler Perry has something he’d like to get off his chest. “Spike (Lee) can go straight to hell! You can print that,” the self-made entertainment mogul says. “I am sick of him talking about me … I am sick of him talking about black people going to see movies. This is what he said: ‘You vote by what you see,’ as if black people don’t know what they want to see.”
The two filmmakers have hardly been close since Lee started lambasting Perry’s work two years ago, saying that Perry’s work is “troubling” and “harkens back to Amos and Andy.” A war of words began between Perry and Lee, and Perry is ready to put the whole thing behind him. “Spike needs to shut the hell up,” he says.
While Perry insists he tries his best to stay positive, the amount of criticism of him out there has reached such a level that he had to respond, culminating with a letter to fans he posted online this week warning of the “folks out there that work overtime trying to keep people from seeing my movies,” including his latest, Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Big Happy Family, out this weekend. “I don’t even understand it (but) this is where the whole Spike Lee (comment) comes from — the negativity, ‘This is Stepin Fetchit, this is coon-ery, this is buffoonery,’” he says.
And they try to get people to get on this bandwagon with them, to get this mob mentality to come against what I’m doing.
“I’m tired of just laying down, tired of just being nice and letting them say whatever they want to say however they want to say it without people knowing what the intent really is,” Perry says.
What surprises Perry most is how much of the criticism comes from within the black community.
“I’ve never seen Jewish people attack Seinfeld and say, ‘This is a stereotype.’ I’ve never seen Italian people attack The Sopranos,” he says. “It’s always black people, and this is something that I cannot undo ... . And I’m sick of it from us. We don’t have to worry about anybody else trying to destroy us and take shots because we do it to ourselves.”