Tyler Perry voiced his frustration with Spike Lee on Tuesday at a Beverly Hills press conference for the West Coast premiere of his new film Madea’s Big Happy Family, according to Box Office Magazine.
In a 2009 interview with Black Enterprise’s Ed Gordon, Lee alluded to Perry’s work on film and television in particular as coonery buffoonery.
“I’m so sick of hearing about damn Spike Lee,” Perry said during the press conference. “Spike can go straight to hell! You can print that. I am sick of him talking about me, I am sick of him saying, ‘this is a coon, this is a buffoon.’ 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.”
“I am sick of him — he talked about Whoopi, he talked about Oprah, he talked about me, he talked about Clint Eastwood. Spike needs to shut the hell up!” Perry reportedly said.
Regarding Perry, Lee has said, “Each artist should be allowed to pursue their artistic endeavors. I know it’s making a lot of money and breaking records, but we can do better.”
Lee went on to say, “I am a huge basketball fan, and when I watch the games on TNT, I see these two ads for these two shows [House of Payne, Meet the Browns], and I am scratching my head. We got a black president, and we going back to Mantan Moreland and Sleep ‘n’ Eat?”
“A lot of this is on us, you vote with your pocket book, your wallet, you vote with your time, sitting in front of the idiot box. And the man has a huge audience, and he’s, Tyler’s very smart in what he’s done,” said Lee.
Lee believes that directors are different.
“We shouldn’t think that Tyler Perry is going to make the same film that I am going to make, or that John Singleton or my cousin Malcolm Lee [would make]” said Lee. “As African-Americans, we’re not one monolithic group, so there is room for all of that. But at the same time, for me, the imaging is troubling and it harkens back to Amos n’ Andy.”
At the press conference on Tuesday, Perry discussed housing with the criticism he receives from some people in the black community.
“I’ve never seen Jewish people attack Seinfeld and say, ‘This is a stereotype,’” he said. “I’ve never seen Italian people attack The Sopranos, I’ve never seen Jewish people complaining about Mrs. Doubtfire or Dustin Hoffman in Tootsie. I never saw it. It’s always black people, and this is something that I cannot undo.”
Perry says other black artists faced similar critiques from their African-American peers.
“Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois went through the exact same thing; Langston Hughes said that Zora Neale Hurston, the woman who wrote Their Eyes Were Watching God, was a new version of the ‘darkie’ because she spoke in a southern dialect and a Southern tone. 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,” said Perry.
Perry’s latest film Madea’s Big Happy Family opens Friday in theaters.