Interior – Living Room – evening
The scene of the crime. With appropriate snacks and, um, party favors secured, we settled in to watch Meet the Browns, one in a long line of Tyler Perry‘s dubious film projects. A note: as a black person (especially one who grew up in the church) I’ve felt obligated to sit through several of these movies and though I’d sworn off years ago, I decided to accept this social challenge.
I can say without question that Meet the Browns is the most engaging TP movie that I’ve ever seen. I can also say without question that it was still almost
completely horrible. I’m no film critic (RIP Roger Ebert) but I know more than enough about dialogue and plot structure to recognize when someone is writing with their feet. Jonathon – the white person in question here — is a film critic incidentally. You should check out some of his commentary on other shitty movies (and a few good ones here).We’ve all watched awful movies before but there was something different about watching TP with a white person. I felt my skin getting hotter every time Tyler made the choice to have one of his characters step and or fetch it. Every time Leroy Brown or Madea, who served no role other than being in a high speed chase to prove her ghetto worth, made an on-screen appearance, my blood boiled at the level of coonery that our boy was trying to pass off as comedy.
Now I love a good black man in a fat woman suit. From time to time I’ll still just randomly start clapping and saying, “Sherman, Sherman, Sherman, Sherman.” But everything about Madea smacks of plantation entertainment. It almost feels like a racist white person wrote it because he thought that’s how black people behave. The fact that Tyler is able to cut these scenes with carefully-crafted A-story drama is even more frustrating. It’s like he almost knows what to do but he’s afraid if he doesn’t ackowledge the chitlin circuit nobody will go to see his movies.
Watching TP with a white person is a lot like being a talking M&M at a holiday party. You feel like you’re being stared at, like there’s a hidden agenda and it might be better to melt than be eaten. Obviously not all black people act like the Browns. Hopefully, no one acts like the Browns. Still, one gets the feeling that every
negative thing ever thought about black people went into the creation of some of these characters. Now that I think about it, it’s how I felt about white people after watching Jackass the Movie.
The best part about being a member of a group is being able to be horribly embarrassed by other members of that group. It’s how you know you belong. Bringing a white boy along to the mistrel show just makes for good entertainment.
So thank you, Tyler Perry. The next time I need to feel self conscious, I’ll just put on one of your many shitty movies and watch the screen while the burning eyes of the majority stare at me asking, “Why do black people like this?”