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But the network was buoyed by, wait for it, sit-coms and drama productions by Tyler Perry.
Perry had already produced “Tyler Perry’s House of Payne” for Atlanta-based networks and then for TBS, but later worked out a deal for scripted shows for the then-new OWN network.
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By this time, Oprah had already invited Perry to her show and his inspirational story of being homeless and pouring his life savings into his work was a success story Oprah glommed on to. “Diary of a Mad Black Woman,” to say the least was not cinematic greatness.
But no one was necessarily expecting it given that it was Perry’s first feature length movie.
And Oprah received a lot of criticism through the Oprah’s Angel Network, the charity arm of her vast empire started in the late 1990s, for donating to schools in South Africa and seemingly turning a blind eye to the poverty and schools in her backyard of Chicago.
I think when I had this revelation, connecting all of these problematics of Perry’s characters throughout the years to Oprah, it was a bit disturbing.,” The Family That Preys,” “I Can Do Bad All By Myself,” Daddy’s Little Girls”) Most of these movies took stereotypical and archetypical images of black women and placed them into characters that some times fit and some times didn’t. Perry found the right mix of black buffoonery in the Madea character, and finding ways to dispense platitudinal wisdom, making sure that Cicely Tyson or Maya Angelou had speaking roles, so that a wide range of black folks–and white looky-loos–would show up at the box office.It is worth noting that behind all of this Oprah Winfrey was walking directly to the bank. Her race aside, it’s still a marvel that she was able to do it.Where one single woman is the Mammy character, one single man is the Buck, and one single woman is the Jezebel, so on and so forth.
It’s a failure to understand not just the complexity of humans, but unique complexity of black life in America.Oprah’s success model, as she noted herself, changed when she saw the tide of daytime talk show moving away from the Morton Downey, Phil Donahue and Jerry Springer model of confrontation, and moving toward inspiration. The poor black girl from Kosciusko, Mississippi actually made it.