Earlier today, I thought I’d amuse myself by liveblogging the series premiere of Tyler Perry’s House of Payne, if only to get even with the sitcom for its incessant advertising campaign that nearly ruined the NBA Eastern Conference Finals (thank god, then, for LeBron James and Boobie Gibson). So I settled in with a Racer 5 IPA, no food (after eating approximately nothing all day) and commenced noting the agony, figuring that it would be a fun introduction to my new "For No Good Reason" column (which you’re going to love!!!).
I hadn’t counted on Perry so abjectly living down to his reputation.
This motherfucker is a menace. If Creflo Dollar and T.D. Jakes had a butt-baby, it would look and act and pander like Tyler Perry. If he were merely an entertainer taking advantage of his counterfeit celebrity to foist low-grade product on his audience, I’d dismiss him as Master P without… whatever it was Master P brought to the table (i.e. "Uhh", Lil’ Romeo and Ricky Williams’s incentive-laden contract with the New Orleans Saints). Perry is a cottage industry of awful; he’s mistaken his boundless talent for self-promotion as evidence that he’s the faith-based answer to Martin Lawrence. And so he courts vulgarity (without ever straying into full-on scatological or sexual humor), while being sure to browbeat his followers into attending church regularly lest Madea wreak havoc with a shotgun or a chainsaw should they choose to sleep in on the lord’s day.
I was raised Presbyterian and still find great comfort in the teachings of Christ even though, spiritually, I’m kind of all over the map. I also think American filmmakers are often at their best when examining our nation’s adversarial relationship with religion (e.g. Robert Duvall’s The Apostle). But there is nothing more objectionable to me than a charlatan like Perry playing pious and, somehow, captivating a huge audience. He’s also got a weird obsession with corporal punishment that, if properly explored, might yet yield a classic of physical excoriation worthy of Michael Armstrong’s Mark of the Devil (and, oh, what I wouldn’t give to see Madea’s tongue ripped out at the root). And he’s a cross-dresser. Just sayin’.
Without belaboring this dime store psychological evaluation, I’m convinced Tyler Perry is one supremely fucked up individual. If that were the extent of it, I’d actually respect him (it ain’t everyone who makes money off their mental instability). But this bastard’s committed the crime of not only being unfunny, but being rich enough to ensure his unfunniness will be broadcast to a prone audience for 100 half-hour episodes (should TBS honor the full agreement they struck with Perry)! Suddenly, those unceasing Too Close for Comfort reruns from the 1980s are looking pretty goddamn good; Ted Knight might’ve been slumming, but at least he wasn’t bullying me into attending church.
Oh, right, there was a point to this rant. After suffering his first box office disappointment with Daddy’s Little Girls (which grossed only $1 million above the opening of Madea’s Family Reunion), Perry is retreating to what works. And Lionsgate (which has brilliantly exploited Perry’s connection to his God-fearing followers) surely couldn’t be any happier. Meet the Browns, the story of a single mother who gets her sinnin’ ass married, will bring back Madea while showcasing the writer-director-proselytizer’s tone-deaf gag writing. It will be Perry’s fifth release through the studio after this November’s Why Did I Get Married?
Meanwhile, Charles Burnett is struggling to finance his next feature.