Tyler Perry has become an African-American cultural icon through his stage plays, films, sitcoms, and now, primetime dramas. As such, his works have come under scrutiny for their representations of the African-American family unit as well as representations of race, class, and gender. Though Perry has an avid fan base, all do not agree with the ways in which his “art” functions culturally within the African-American psyche. W.E. B. DuBois states in his 1926 article which was published in The Crisis, “I do not care a damn for any art that is not used for propaganda. But I do care when propaganda is confined to one side while the other is stripped and silent.” Within the African-American community, the question remains if Perry’s productions can truly be considered art: an argument which extends to debate the differences between high and low art. Moreover, the overarching query is “Do Perry’s works function as political propaganda, and therefore, is that what elevates it to the level of art?” In addition, “Do Perry’s works give voice to (African) Americans who have once been politically stripped and silenced which in turn shifts African-American respectability politics for a postmodern age?”
This panel discussion will seek to negotiate the ways in which Perry’s productions function within mainstream American culture, and within the African-American cultural paradigm. This panel is open to discuss Perry’s interviews, stage plays, films, sitcoms, and the primetime dramas that he creates, writes, produces, and directs and how these productions inculcate notions of race, class, gender, sexism, homophobia, religion, and colorism to name a few.
Judah-MIcah Lamar, Panel Chair