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Haters Gonna Give Valid Criticism

There seems to be a divide in the black and female communities over whether Tyler Perry and Stephenie Meyer should be celebrated or executed.

Tyler Perry made his fortune through stage plays, movies, and television shows about African Americans. Stephenie Meyer created Twilight and brought vampires roaring back the mainstream in 2005. The two creators have a very supportive and protective fanbase.

“Now Tyler Perry has given us films that the whole community can relate to and families can enjoy together — if we allow ourselves to give the man some credit.” –Janelle Harris, blogger

Meyer is also very popular with her followers.

But you can’t please everyone and Perry and Meyer are no strangers to criticism.

Legends in literature and film like Stephen King and Spike Lee have given interviews were they bash Meyer and Perry for their lack of talent and depth.

Are these comments fueled by jealousy or do Lee and King have valid points?

Let’s take a look some of the most persistent criticisms of Meyer and Perry and see if they are really as bad as they say.

1) Their lead characters reinforce stereotypes that blacks and women have had to fight against for years.

Bella Swan, the protagonist of the Twilight series, is criticized for being a woman who has no will or desires of her own except to be with her boyfriend. Tyler Perry always writes about abused black women who only find the power to leave their abusive relationships once they find Jesus.

2) They are complete hacks and they can’t write.

I’ve never read any of the Twilight books but I’ve never heard anyone, not even fans, praise it for its story structure or literary awesomeness. I have seen some of the Perry movies and the dialogue is awkward at best.  Some of the scenes are downright cringe worthy. The characters feel more like cartoons than real people.

3) They try to hammer in a religious message.

Every Tyler Perry movie has to have a scene in a church where the main characters forget all their problems by basking in the glory of the lord. I understand that Twilight’s whole teen marriage/teen pregnancy mess is heavily influenced by Meyer’s Mormon beliefs.

Now that we got the complaints, let’s play devil’s advocate.

1) Offensive material is always a matter of personal perspective. I don’t like Tyler Perry’s portrayal of black people, but I’ve seen plenty of black people act like Tyler Perry’s characters. There is a slither of truth in all stereotypes. Bella Swan may not be the ideal feminist heroine, but maybe Stephenie Meyer didn’t want to write that book. This isn’t Buffy the Vampire Slayer (love that show btw). She created the Twilight world and she is the only one who should decide how characters act.

2) Its no secret that Perry and Meyer are not the masters of their craft. But the degree to which their subpar work offends you depends on your personal view of art. Is art supposed to meet a certain standard, or is it about the emotional connection to the audience. Their plays/movies/books may suck, but they have also touched millions of people in positive ways.

3) The American public strongly believes in the separation of church and state. But what Perry and Meyer do has nothing to do with the state. Church and entertainment can be in whatever type of relationship they want. Could their religious messages be a bit more subtle? Of course they could. But it is their right to put their morals in their movies/books.  And the box offices numbers show that there is a movie going audience out there that loves them some Jesus.

So did I change your mind about these two in any way? It’s difficult not to dislike them, I know, I’m not a fan either. But I know what would make it better.

Minorities and women and women minorities need to start taking the initiative in the entertainment industry. Instead of complaining about the lack of opportunities, we need to start creating our own. It’s a long shot, but the glass ceiling is bound to break if we keep pounding on it. Ava DuVernay wrote, produced, and directed the film I Will Follow which has gained significant buzz on the festival circuit. The Hollywood board rooms may be a white boys club for years to come, but there is no progress in complaining.

Stephenie Meyer and Tyler Perry may not be the best at what they do, but they never gave up on their goals until they achieved them. 

And hey, they're rich, so they probably don't care about what we think anyway.






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