Out of touch

TylerPerryI wanted to bring to attention this item in Sunday's Los Angeles Times. Staff writer Lorenza Muñoz jumped on a tremendous Hollywood story of how Tyler Perry's Oprah-inspired journal writing about childhood physical abuse turned into plays and movies that are now taking the entertainment industry by storm. And the major themes of his stories are the Christian tenets of faith, hope and redemption in an African American cultural context:

Having shown that black churchgoers can also be filmgoers, Perry -- inspired by the likes of Bill Cosby before him -- is out to introduce himself to mainstream white America.

"What is important to me about this movie is that the stories and messages are for anyone," said Perry, who says a recent test screening drew raves from a white audience near Sacramento. "Anyone who needs to learn about forgiveness ... will enjoy it no matter who they are."

... Lionsgate is aggressively targeting the spiritual community by printing 30,000 prayer cards to be distributed at more than 1,200 churches nationwide [to promote Perry's new film, Madea's Family Reunion]. On one side is Perry wearing a large gold cross; on the other is Madea surrounded by a golden cloud resembling the Holy Spirit. On Thursday, Perry will appear on the Trinity Broadcasting Network.

Why is it so surprising to Hollywood executives that religious African Americans look for quality entertainment and are willing to pay to get it? And why is it so surprising that these religious themes -- while directed at African Americans -- also appeal to the broad swath of religious people in the United States?

Stories like these that shatter Hollywood executives' preconceptions and stereotypes of other Americans are much-needed, and in a way that's sad. It's too bad this country's entertainment executives are so out of touch with the American people.

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