What Tyler Perry Could do for Black Speculative Fiction
I just watched Gone Girl - brilliant movie - of which my man Tyler Perry played a major role. It reminded me about the Tyler Takeover and his secret love for genre films. From plays to DVD'S, TV, Movies and his acting roles, my man has cornered one segment of the entertainment market, all by himself. The thing with Tyler is that he has a formula that works but I'm wondering if he would apply that to black genre content. Could he pull it off? I think so.
Know your Audience
Perry's first successes were designed to appeal to a target demographic of Christian, female and African-American. And his main focus was the theater circuit with his alter ego Mabel Simmons aka Madea - a funny, gun-wielding, grandmother - who he played in drag. He is used to the naysayers telling him he can't do something and takes it as a challenge to just go out and do it anyway. If he subtly injects some speculative fiction themed work into his production - nothing too dramatic at first. I'm sure he will be able challenge the film industry pundits who think stories of the fantastic with ethnically diverse characters don't work. Tyler used 150 million dollar - proceeds from his theater work - to bankroll his first film debut Diary of a Mad Black Woman. He used a meager 5 million dollars for production and the film made 50 million dollars domestically. This is a man who listens to no one but his inner drive. He could work wonders for black speculative properties that just need some cash injection and professional support.
Produce Your Own Shit
Perry is in control. He purchased a property in 2006 which became Tyler Perry Studios. He has the accolade of establishing the first African-American owned film and TV Studios ever. The Atlanta complex houses sound-stages, television studios and movie sets. Perry is a master of comedy and feel good content but I'd want to challenge him to get risque and support the burgeoning fantasy/sci-fi community that is creating stories about and from people of color. Take it slow and start with something tame but amp it up as the fans begin to realize and support the new direction your taking.
Get with the program
Here is a man who is willing and able to put up his own money and create worlds of his making without outside interference from anyone. Perry retains all the rights to his films and TV. He loves taking on bit parts or major roles in genres you would not normally see him in and I know he wants to breakout into Sci-Fi or thrillers. Why hasn't he as a company? Years ago I would have doubted any of this because he only wanted to do inspirational, positive and empowering work. After his massive deal with Lionsgate and his TV deal with TBS - House of Payne aired more episodes than any other television series with a predominantly African American cast, surpassing The Jeffersons with 253 episodes, Family Matters with 215 episodes, and The Cosby Show with 202 episodes - he's ready. He's ready to bring the other side of the black experience; Science Fiction, fantasy and horror genres. All the stories we are not normally included or recognized in.
Take the leap Tyler, look at some great graphic novel/comic properties like Watson & Holmes by Karl Bollers, Genius - drawn by Afua Richardson and written by Marc Bernadin and Adam Freeman. Or look towards literature for inspiration Tananarive Due, Steven Barnes and so many more. Take the leap. Feel the fear and do it anyway. You're a legend now, think about your standing if you were to consistently put black speculative fiction work on the map.