Tyler Perry, director, writer and star of Madea's Big Happy Family and all of the films in the popular Madea series, offered some harsh words to his critics in the entertainment industry, in particular filmmaker Spike Lee. "I'm so sick of hearing about damn Spike Lee," Perry said during a press conference Tuesday in Beverly Hills, Calif. "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's latest film Madea's Big Happy Family opens Friday in theaters nationwide. The filmmaker is one of the most successful in Hollywood, thanks to a string of hits that engaged African-American and churchgoing audiences like few others have been able to. Discussing an email he sent out recently to fans via his website, Perry said that he tries not to dwell on negativity, but sometimes gets frustrated about the criticism he receives from within his own community. "I was writing about just people and how hard people work to discourage people from seeing my work," he said. "I don't even understand it [but] this is where the whole Spike Lee [comment] comes from - the negativity, this is Stepin Fetchit, this is coonery, this is buffoonery, and they try to get people to get on this bandwagon with them, to get this mob mentality to come against what I'm doing."
The filmmaker admitted he can't understand why so much of the criticism of his films comes from his fellow African-Americans, when he doesn't see similar criticisms of other groups coming from their communities. "I've never seen Jewish people attack Seinfeld and say "this is a stereotype," 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. 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."
Perry also said that he feels like many of the criticisms that his work doesn't reach other audiences or ethnic groups is simply unfounded. "So me being frustrated with it, and then they go on to say that people of other ethnic groups or white people don't go see my movies, and that's all a lie. I'm standing on stage looking at thousands of people, thousands of faces, with every race represented, and I'm tired of it. I'm tired of just laying down, tired of just being nice and letting them say whatever they want to say however they want to say it without people knowing what the intent really is."