The Point And Purpose Of Tyler Perry

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I’ve always had a bit of a like/hate relationship with 50 Cent. I liked him back in the How to Rob days, and I also liked both Get Rich or Die Tryin and The Massacre. (I still maintain that What Up Gangsta is one of the best album intro tracks in rap history.) Yet, I hated what he and his popularity “represented”—whatever that means—and I wasn’t particularly unhappy to see him fade into musical and cultural irrelevance.

That said, I’ve also always been impressed by his shrewdness. He was basically the Marlo Stanfield of music—so single-minded in his goals that he was able to be pragmatic and clear-headed in a way that others concerned with sentimentally and humanity just aren’t able to be. He showed hints of it in his music, but it would really come across in his interviews. And, perhaps the most astute and self-aware thing I’ve ever heard any artist say was said by him on the subject of Kanye West.

I forgot the exact quote, but a few years ago he offhandedly said that Kanye’s fame was partially due to him. Basically, (paraphrasing) a guy like Kanye—who didn’t “fit” any of the usual rap star archetypes—was able to be so popular because fans needed a counterpoint to people like 50.

Admittedly, I scoffed when first hearing that. But, as I thought about it some more, I couldn’t deny that there was some truth to what he was saying. In order for “G.O.O.D.” (See what I did there?) to emerge, you need “bad.” Without the presence of bad, good just isn’t as relevant or necessary.

It’s a truism that transcends music. Batman doesn’t exist if Gotham wasn’t so thoroughly messed up. Shit, although I’ve been a huge Obama supporter, I realize he may not have even made it to office if the Bush years weren’t such a disaster.

Anyway, this (finally!) brings us to Tyler Perry.

Regardless of how you personally feel about him, you can not deny that there is a sizable percentage of the Black population who consider him to be the bane of all Black existence, and would personally strangle a dozen kittens if it meant he wouldn’t make any more movies.

I do not feel as strongly. In fact, I’m glad he is as popular as he is. I am not a fan, but I’ve come to realize that his pervasiveness has an ultimate purpose besides creating content geared towards an oft-ignored segment of the population, and I think we’re starting to see exactly what that is.

To wit, of the dozens of movies that have been or will be released this year, three of them have received a bit more Oscar buzz than any others.

Fruitvale Station—a “Black” movie with a mostly Black cast and a Black director.

The Butler—a “Black” movie with a mostly Black cast and a Black director.

12 Years a Slave—a “Black” movie with a mostly Black cast and a Black director.

I know there’s still several month’s worth of movies to be released, but I cannot recall a year when the three most critically buzzed-about movies all happened to be created by Black people while featuring unambiguously Black themes. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think that’s ever happened before.

Would these movies have been made if Tyler Perry didn’t exist? Possibly. Would they have each received the same type of critical acclaim? Maybe.

Still, I can’t help but think that the presence and popularity of Perry has both inspired Black filmmakers to be better and also reminded producers, moviegoers, and critics that Black movies deserve space in their collective consciousnesses. Perhaps his products aren’t everyone’s taste, but their cultural ubiquity may have had an osmosis effect, prompting creatives to push the envelope in a different direction, and prompting fans to demand more nuanced depictions of Black culture.

Does this mean Tyler Perry is a “bad” guy. No. Not at all. Just the cultural antihero we all deserved and needed.

—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”) 

How Being “Nice” Can Be The Shittiest Thing You Can Possibly Do

I’ve spent approximately 15 minutes staring at my monitor, trying to think of a way to say what I’m about to say without sounding like an asshole. But, since there is really no way to say “Women — attractive, smart, and option-having women — seem to like me…a lot” without sounding like an asshole, I’ve decided to just come out and say it.

Mind you, I’m not saying this to brag. I realize that I’m not especially special. I don’t make a ton of money, I’m quite a bit taller than the average man, but not tall enough for my height to really be considered a plus, and although I’m aware that some women are physically attracted to me, I’m not the type a guy that would cause an Elba-esque instaswoon. Even my personality seems to leave much to be desired, as my introverted nature tends to initially come off as either detached, aloof, and arrogant or shy, awkward, and reluctant.

Yet, despite all of this aggressively but solidly above-averageness, I’ve managed to cultivate many “successful” interactions with quite a few very, very attractive women, which leads me to believe that, right now, the main reason attractive, smart, and option-having women seem to like me is because they’re aware that other attractive, smart, and option-having women also seem to like me. It’s a self-fulfilling prophesy. (Or something like that)

Thing is, these successful interactions also have a tendency to end badly. Very badly. Thousand word long text message and restraining order badly. And, until recently, I was utterly clueless why. I mean, along with my aggressively but solidly above-averageness, I’m a nice guy who does nice things and shit. And, nice guys who do nice things and shit aren’t supposed to have to file restraining orders.

Now, there are myriad possible reasons why my relationships seem to end so shittily, the most obvious being that I may just be attracted to attractive but “unbalanced” women. You could also point out that by every available metric, there are more “eligible” Black women than “eligible” Black men, and this ratio imbalance — and the exaggerated ratio imbalance in some women’s heads — also means that certain women may take “losing” one of these eligible men much harder than they’re supposed to.

Solid reasons both, but neither really encapsulate the dynamics unique to the interactions I’ve had.

A couple weeks ago, though, a female friend very, um, “familiar” with my dating history shed some light on why this manages to occur so often…while also completely deconstructing me and my “problems.” (She’s talented)

(Paraphrasing)

“You do nice things for women, but you do them in a way that doesn’t seem like you’re only doing them to get some ass. You open doors and walk on the outside of the sidewalk and listen to what I have to say and even return text messages in a reasonable amount of time. Well, at least you return my text messages in a reasonable amount of time. You even always make eye contact.

Basically, you treat women like they’re special. And, it’s easy to see why they fall for you, because you treating them like they’re special makes them think that you believe they’re special. But, they don’t realize that you treat all women like that, not just the ones you’re trying to f*ck or already f*cking.

And, when you get bored or antsy or horny or hungry or whatever the hell it is that causes you to do this, you end things. Which is easy for you to do because you don’t have much invested, but it comes out of left field for the women because she thought you thought she was very special.

You are a nice guy, but you’re a f*cking liar. Which means you’re not really that nice of a guy.”

I had to defend myself.

“A liar? You know my history. When have I ever been dishonest?”

She continued the deconstruction.

“Dishonesty isn’t always about telling lies. You’re smart enough to know that acting a certain way is going to make women feel a certain way about you, and you do that while knowing you don’t feel the same way about them. You’re not doing this to hurt them intentionally. You’re being “nice” but your form of niceness is one of the meanest things you can do to a woman. Honestly, I’d rather get cheated on or hit by some asshole than have a nice guy I genuinely like pull some shit like that with me.”

“So in order to truly be a good guy, I have to be more of an asshole?”

“I’m not saying that. Just, well…ok. Actually, I am saying that. You’re not alone, though. Quote unquote good guys do shit like this all the time. What you’re doing is no different than the guy who stays in a relationship even though he knows it’s going to end. By being nice and not wanting to hurt someone’s feelings, he ends up prolonging it and making it so that when the relationship finally does end, her feelings are hurt even more. You don’t have to be a jerk about it, but just stop treating women like you want them to be your chick if you don’t want them to be your chick. Thing is, that behavior is so ingrained in you that you’re probably unable to change it.”

“So, wise one, how do I make some changes?”

“It’s easy. You’re dating attractive women that you don’t really want, and continuing the interactions because you feel like you should want them. You need to stop bullshitting with “safe” chicks you know you can obtain and start putting yourself out there and reaching for who you really want. Maybe you turn asshole and cut off women you’re not super into, but doing this allows them to find someone who would be. Basically, if you stop being a bitch, you’ll also stop being a f*cking liar.”

“Why do I always regret talking to you?”

“The truth hurts!”

—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)

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