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December 09, 2011


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I read "LaVey family" and hoped that Lydia Diamond had written about Anton LaVey's family- the first family of Satanism. No such luck.

Tracie Thoms though! Love her.


Any chance you might be reaching a bit on this one to find another way to smack Chucky?



i think if you had read or seen "Stick Fly," you'd know that I'm not.

Eric Shethar

I would in part agree with the comparison, although I think any connection is more incidental then intuitive on Miz Isherwood's part- let's be honest, how many Tyler Perry shows has Chucky actually seen? Whereas he seems to be making a tonal comparison of the melodramatic aspects of Diamond and Perry (I admittedly have only read Stick Fly, but have heard that Leon's production does edge towards the broad), Perry's films are (like Stick Fly) obsessed with "the complex signifiers of class in black society." Far from the arguable "poverty porn" of Precious, Perry's milieus are more consistently invested in exploring the upward economic movements of the black upper-middle class, and the resulting tensions that result from economic disparity within communities and even families.


I don't think one can ignore the overtly religious component of Tyler Perry's work, a component that is completely lacking from Stick Fly. Furthermore, Stick Fly is not about upwardly mobile Middle Class African Americans. it's about old money, very wealthy Martha's Vineyard African Americans. It's a milieu that is completely divorced from the world that Perry talks about and almost never seen on stage (or in film... or outside of Percival Everett's work, in literature). Do they both deal with class? Sure, yes. But so do any number of other writers. Stick Fly owes a lot more to Arthur Miller's "All My Sons" (or any other play where a patriarch's secrets are revealed during a time-limited family gathering) than it does to Madea.

Eric Shethar

Very true- the old money/new money distinction is important for Tyler Perry's ATL-based empire. But I was thinking more about the tension between Cheryl and the Levay family which does remind me of Perry and his examinations of interclass conflict between African American characters (which I do think is still noteworthy).

"Jumping the Broom" (a 2011 movie) may in fact be the place where the LeVays and Madea meet. It also takes place on Martha's Vineyard, and depicts two families (one decidedly old money, headed by Angela Basset and Brian Stokes Mitchell, the other working class urban, lead by Loretta Devine) meeting for the first time for their respective children's wedding. Although it's very different, both tonally and stylistically, from Perry's films, interestingly enough most reviewers had trouble discussing it without referencing Perry or Madea.

Vincent Blackshadow

Seriously? This isn't reaching?

'“Stick Fly” sometimes feels like a Tyler Perry melodrama (sans Madea)'

That's all he wrote. That's it. And others have mentioned Tyler Perry as well. Are you calling them all out? I don't see how this is an Isherwood issue. It's barely an issue at all.


My point exactly, Vincent. Say what you want about the two people in question, their writing styles as well, but that's NOT what Isherwood said.


If I say, "Herman Cain reminds me of Obama," what do you assume the basis of my comparison is? The two people in question have exactly one thing in common. It's a lazy, easy, surface comparison. And yeah, I'd think Isaac is calling out anyone else who mentioned Tyler Perry. Because it's lazy.


J, I thought of you last night, having a feeling you'd jump in late on this issue, as usual. So again and for the last time, that is just not what the man said. Ish' did not compare the two people as both the one-liner of this post and your Cain/Obama example does. I'm a big fan of IB, but it's the one-line posts that are lazy and piling on that's easy. But thanks for reminding me of why I stopped commenting on this blog and should have known better with this post.



I'm sorry you feel that way. But I stand by what I wrote. Charles Isherwood says that at times Stick Fly feels like a Tyler Perry melodrama sans Madea. First of all, Tyler Perry doesn't write melodramas with Madea in them, he writes comedies with melodrama-like plots. Second, at no point does Stick Fly feel like one of these works. The plot incidents are entirely different. The sense of humor is entirely different. The milieu is entirely different. They don't have anything to do with each other. If Isherwood had said "At times Stick Fly plays like a melodrama" I wouldn't've had any problem with what he wrote. But he didn't say that. He used a modifier ("Tyler Perry") that was absolute nonsense and oddly racialized.

You and "Vincent Blackshadow" are insisting he said something different. Okay. What did he say? Is there some way you can read that sentence as not saying there are similarities between Stick Fly and Tyler Perry? Because I can't.

I've seen the play and read it. I'm not the only one who feels this way. I don't think it was lazy. I don't think Isherwood's stupider moments as a reviewer always warrant a full length post.


IB, great, then this is what you should have written to begin with, and I'd stand by it with you, but you didn't. You tossed us an off-handed one-liner that implied that Ish' wrote that these 2 people were somehow alike, and you made it racial.

In no way did he compare the 2 people. Right or wrong, he compared a play by one to the melodramas of another. That's all.

But your implication only lead J to add to the racial wrongness that was no part of the critic's review. There is enough racial injustice in the world, and enough to criticize Ish for, that you don't need to make things up.

I do not disagree with your 8:23pm comment, and it didn't take you "full length" to do, but your initial oneliner just seemed beneath the great, non-lazy thinking and writing that I've come to expect from you. Now maybe that expectation is my fault, but faults I got aplenty.

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