There’s a great Saturday Night Live skit involving Tom Hanks on a version of Jeopardy! where he plays a white trucker named Dave. Hanks beats the other contestants in naming a famous director when he offers up Tyler Perry. In explaining why he likes Perry, Hanks replies something like, “Anyone who can make you laugh, cry, and pray in 90 minutes has to be good.”
That side of Perry showed up again in an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper when Perry explained his views on the movement to defund the police:
“I think we need more police. My studio is in a neighborhood where I think we need police. But we don’t need police that are undertrained. And you got to understand, I have really close friends who are police officers that I love dearly who are really good people, who have been very, very hurt by this as well.”
“There are a lot of people in America who feel the way that I do, right? I think we need the police. I know that I need the police; I have several that work for me here at the studio. We need them. But we need them reformed, we need them trained well, we need the right structure.”
At one point, Cooper asked Perry if he’d spoken to his 5-year-old son about race yet. Perry told him he had not, and that he’s holding off as long as possible.
“I’m trying to push that as long as I can, because there is something about the level of innocence that’s ripped from a child when they have to face race. I love watching him play with his friends or come home from school and talk about his friends — never describing them by race at all, ever, not once in the years when he’s been talking and smart enough to ask me all kinds of questions.”
When it came to calling out people who have committed crimes or done things he believes to be wrong, Perry didn’t shy away or sugar coat it.
The director said:
“Where there’s wrong, I’m going to stand up against it. When Rayshard Brooks was murdered, I thought that was wrong. When George Floyd was murdered, I thought that was wrong, like so many other people. But when a police officer who was white in a suburb in Atlanta was shot in the head by shoplifter, I thought that was wrong, too, and I reached out to do what I can to help his family. When Secoreia [Turner], the 8-year-old who was shot near the Wendy’s in her mother’s back seat, I thought that was wrong, too. So anywhere where there’s wrong, I’m going to stand up against it.”
Perry calls for law and order, raising children to look past race when possible, and calling out injustices. That sounds like the plot of a good movie.