“I Can Do Bad All By Myself,” a Tragedy, by Tyler Perry April 26, 2010Posted by Skippy in Black folks, Popular Culture.
Tags: hot ass mess, trainwrecks, tyler perry
Make no mistake, I hate Tyler Perry.
Before being introduced to his…unique…style of
shitty film making, I had very little to say about Tyler Perry. I had heard of him, but mostly, I’d heard of “Madea.” And as far as that went, I thought, “Well, hell; Flip Wilson had a drag character named Geraldine. What’s new here?”
Figs 1, 2. What’s the difference here?
Having suffered through at least three of Tyler Perry’s shitfests, I think I can now say with complete confidence that Tyler Perry cannot make a good movie. The one movie that appeared to break away from the Madea-and-church model, “The Family That Preys,” was a complete failure that wasted not one but two stellar actresses, failed to present a coherent narrative, and relied upon worn-out presentations of Jezebel, Sapphire, and so forth. I mean, you have a compelling premise about two families tied together by some pretty provocative threads…and you turn it into a harpie-fest? A “moral” narrative wherein a successful (read: total bitch) Black woman is served her comeuppance by the White dude she’s seeing on the side. The Successful Total Bitch is married to a longsuffering Black Man–I mean, there wasn’t two seconds in this movie when the Successful Total Bitch wasn’t putting down her Longsuffering Black Man. I half-expected the LBM to take a hatchet to the STB. I know I would have.
It was then that I began to wonder about all the hype surrounding Tyler Perry. Perhaps this was just a bad movie. Maybe I needed to watch a movie that was made within Perry’s comfort zone: a Madea movie. Well, thanks to Netflix and TBS, I’ve seen a total of four Tyler Perry movies, and three of them Madea-based. The good news: I haven’t killed anyone. Yet. The bad news: I saw four Tyler Perry movies.
So now we come to “I Can Do Bad All By Myself.” It’s what I’ve come to expect in a Tyler Perry movie, and less.
First, the “plot”:
April is a singer. She sings at a club. She sings very well. We then see her with a drink in her hand. Uh-oh! Successful Total Bitch alert!
As we know, any Black woman who drinks must be a Total Bitch. She must be self-centered, egotistical, and plain evil. Naw, she can’t enjoy a little vino now and again. No. She must be massively consumed by alcohol. A total lush. In need of an intervention.
Anyway, the STB in question is dating a married man (of course) who is vaguely menacing. He does all sorts of vile things–aside from sleeping around on his wife. He smokes…
Fig. 1 He smokes, therefore he is evil.
…and he hits on a 16 year old girl and later, attempts to rape her.
Fig. 2 Nope…he really IS evil.
Anyway, before we get to the attempted rape of a 16 year old girl, TP takes us through a very weird “story” wherein Madea discovers three kids in her house. They’ve broken in, and their grandmother hasn’t been around in days. Gee, think she’s dead? Nobody knows where their grandmother is. Um, I’m pretty sure she’s dead. Days later, after the kids have gone to stay with their aunt, the Successful Total Bitch April, no one has heard from the grandmother.
Y’all. She’s dead.
Moving along, being a Successful Total Bitch, April cannot want to take in her dead sister’s kids. Oh, no. Not only can she not want to take them in, she has to be utterly cruel to them. She hates the fuck out of these kids.
Now, let me be honest. I am not crazy about kids. They’re weird little creatures to me. Always have been–even when I was a kid. I didn’t get other kids. Of course, now, I don’t get other adults–par for the course, right? Anyway, if either of my sisters passed away, you can best believe I’d take in my nieces or nephew, my ambivalence about kids be damned. But then again, I live in the real world, not Tyler Perry’s world.
So, Successful Total Bitch not only takes the kids in, but is, through some inconceivable coincidence, forced to take in a Hispanic guy named “Sandino.” He’s a carpenter, and is really, really humble.
Fig. 3 Well, hello!
For some inexplicable reason, Humble Hottie takes a real shine to Successful Total Bitch. Where have I seen this before?
Fig. 4 Diary of a Mad Black Woman Doing Bad All By Herself…Until She Meets Humble Hottie
This is the second TP movie where we first see the Humble Hottie in a horrendous hairdon’t. In “Diary of a Mad Black Woman,” Shemar Moore sported some ridiculous cornrows. It made no sense. Hell, it offended me. This is the way you convey “down to earthiness”? Ratty cornrows that don’t look remotely natural? Right. So, in this movie, Adam Rodriguez shows up in a full beard and massively ratty hair. Fortunately, he shaved that shit. Nevertheless, I think that that’s Perry’s go-to visual for the Humble Hottie. The Humble Hottie must look a hot fugly mess. So you know that he’s humble. Even though he’s totally a hottie.
Blah, blah, blah, we finally find out that the grandmother died. She died on the bus.
Wait. Are you fucking kidding me? She died on a fucking city bus? Did Tyler Perry watch some crazy ass news report about someone dying on a bus and think, “I’ve gotta work that into my next movie!”? I bet he did.
More blah, blah, blah, Humble Hottie invites Successful Total Bitch to church. Oh, here we go. Here’s the fucked up sexist shorthand for you in case you missed it:
Humble Hottie: goes to church, isn’t really concerned about his appearance even though he’s totally hot, loves kids, is subjectively better looking than the man you’re currently fucking. Did I mention he goes to church? Did you get it? The hot guy goes to church.
Successful Total Bitch: doesn’t like kids, cares about her career, and doesn’t go to church.
So anyway, the Successful Total Bitch, through a conveniently placed montage of the grandmother getting on the bus and then dying, decides to go to church with the Humble Hottie, but her conversion from Successful Total Bitch to Good Black Woman doesn’t fully take.
Which brings us back to this:
Y’all. Child molestation in Black communities is a serious problem. It’s often a “dirty” secret that gets hushed up for years and leads to all sorts of self-destructive behaviors. Child molestation does not need to be a plot point in a movie that gets us to an over-the-top “revelation” that the STB had also been molested by her mother’s boyfriend and that her mother didn’t believe her. What? What the damn–?
I didn’t have time to fully contemplate the fucked upedness of this plot twist, as we were soon whisked to a scene stolen straight out of “The Color Purple.”
Fig. 5 Steven Spielberg did reconciliation better. Way better.
So, April is…doing something. She hears the church choir singing a song that her mother loved. She then remarks that her mother always knew when to show up. Her mother. The same woman who didn’t believe her when she said she’d been molested by her mother’s boyfriend–good lookin’ out, Mom! And then, out of the blue, Humble Hottie shows up (he’d left her earlier) and declares his undying love for her. And voila! Successful Total Bitch is now the Good Black Woman.
Rant: If you’re going to steal from one of the most beloved movies of all time, at least do it in a way that isn’t utterly fucking stupid. In “The Color Purple,” Shug Avery hearing a song that she used to sing was a powerful motivator to get her back into the church and reconcile with her father. It was a powerful scene–I still bawl my eyes out every time I see it. Yeah, it’s cliche, but it’s cliche that’s done well. In Tyler Perry’s clumsy hands, it’s cliche employed not in service of April reconciling herself to herself, but of April reconciling with a man who, just one scene prior, had left her (after she had, basically, told him to buzz off). It’s as subtle as an F-5 tornado. In Tyler Perry’s clumsy hands, it’s a showcase for Gladys Knight (playing a rather annoying Church Lady) and Marvin Winans (playing a rather annoying Church Pastor).
And then the newly transformed Good Black Woman gets married to the Humble Hottie and then the movie is over.
I guess she let the kids stay with her, or something.
Oh, and can someone please tell me why Mary J. Blige is in this movie?