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In Defense of...Tyler Perry

Tyler Perry stands as one of today's most successful filmmakers, and yet many movie fans still have no idea what his movies truly look like. His presence on the cultural landscape may not be the most elevated or evolved, but he's a valuable figure all the same. Here are just some reasons why you should give Tyler Perry a chance if you haven't already.

Madea Is Funny

Did I lose you already? Might as well start with the big guns. Yes, Madea is a funny character, particularly when she can forgo her role as a plot driver and simply rant (though following her teaching is often ill-advised). Madea's not the only one, either. Slowly, Perry has been amassing an Avengers-worth of goofy surreal characters like Joe, Mr. Brown and Aunt Bam.

His Films Look Great

This hasn't always been the case, but particularly after For Colored Girls, Tyler Perry's films have taken on darker and much more mature color palette. Meanwhile, the cinematography utilized in his films has grown more interesting as well. For someone widely derided as a bad filmmaker, his later films look surprisingly assured.

He Made Diary of a Mad Black Woman

Few films are as unknowingly insane as Tyler Perry's film debut, Diary of a Mad Black Woman. Not to spoil it too much, but this is a film where a wronged woman gets back at her husband by torturing him for days while he's paralyzed from the neck down. And she's the film's hero. This is not quite the craziest Tyler Perry film, but it's way up there and a provides a great place to start discovering his filmography.

His Morals Are Often Amoral

If you think all Tyler Perry films involve tons of preaching and religious superiority, you might be surprised by how seldom he brings God into the equation. And when he does, it's usually represented by the dumbest, most unlikeable characters. Madea, for instance, refuses to step into churches at all, preferring violence as a method for getting what she wants from people.

He Offers Starring Roles to Great Actors Who Don't Often Get Them

Hollywood does not freely give black actors the roles their talent deserves. But Tyler Perry does. His writing often leaves a lot to be desired, but his films frequently contain better performances than you'd think simply because the talent well is so deep. While Angela Bassett has to accept third or fourth billing in films like Olympus Has Fallen and Green Lantern, she gets Meet the Browns all to herself.

He's an Interesting Actor

Here's another one that might earn me some puzzled looks. But the fact is, Tyler Perry has some real skills as an actor. Not just while pretending to be a violent old lady, but playing normal guys as well. His skill set is rather limited (most of his performances rely on a weird amount of Dr. Hibbert-like giggling), but his charm comes through in nearly all his roles that don't involve him solving crimes with Edward Burns.

He Works Extremely Hard

While extra effort doesn't amount to much if then finished product is awful, Perry creates such an unbelievable amount of media per year that it demands acknowledgment. Not only does Tyler Perry usually end the year with two released films under his belt, but he also manages several TV shows, personally writing and directing more episodes of each than you might expect. Unfortunately, this endless work might be responsible for the dipping quality of his recent output, but it's amazing to see a guy take so much on and stay standing.

He Beat Hollywood

Maybe you don't like Tyler Perry, but his stance as a filmmaker successful enough to ignore the Hollywood studio system altogether wouldn't have been possible of that same system hadn't failed black filmgoers so thoroughly. Perry makes films for an audience Hollywood had little interest in, and as a result enjoys complete autonomy in a business where such a thing is very coveted and rare. It's kind of cool.

He Made the Why Did I Get Married? Movies

To date, Tyler Perry has yet to top the Why Did I Get Married series in terms of all-out insanity. I hope he someday he goes even further down his own crazy tunnel, but if he doesn't, I will still appreciate the accidental achievement these films represent. They don't have any Madea action, but they are massively entertaining all the same thanks to a high level of unexpected events no filmmaker but Tyler Perry could so casually include in a film about marriage troubles. You'll just have to see them to know what I mean.

He Is the Master of His Very Own Genre

No one makes films like Tyler Perry. Part of that is because no one really wants to, but the few who attempt his weird alchemy illustrate its elusiveness (see Jumping the Broom for an example). At the core, he basically makes female-centric soap operas/revenge fantasies for typically Southern black Christian audiences. On paper that sounds like an entirely too specific ballpark to bring the kind of wealth Tyler Perry enjoys. Somehow, he's developed a magic formula for delivering what his fans want better than anyone else out there and reaps great rewards as a result.

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