Listeners Weigh In On Filmakers' Feud And More
MICHEL MARTIN, host:
And now it's time for Backtalk where we lift the curtain on what's happening in the TELL ME MORE blogosphere and get to hear from you, our listeners. Lee Hill, our digital media guy is here with me as he usually is on Fridays. And we have a little announcement about that, so you might want to stay tuned. Hey, Lee, what's up?
LEE HILL: Hey, Michel. Well, this week we brought listeners a disturbing story out of Baltimore where Chrissy Lee Polis, a transgender woman was badly beaten at a McDonald's. Two people, an 18-year-old woman and a 14-year-old girl were charged with assaulting her. They may also face hate crime charges. And here's Polis describing what happened in an interview with The Baltimore Sun.
Ms. CHRISSY LEE POLIS: The girl spit in my face. And she approached me and she said, are you trying to talk to my man? I said, no, I didn't even know that was you man at all. The other girl came up, spit in my face. Then they started ripping my hair, throwing me on the floor, kicking me in my face. But, really, to tell you the truth though, they just seemed like they wanted to pick a fight that night.
HILL: Now, Michel, this became a big story because the beating was caught on video and put on the web. And on Wednesday we talked about the speculation that Polis was targeted because she's transgender and the calls for this case to be classified as a hate crime.
Well, after our conversation, we caught up with Melissa. She's also transgender. Here's what Melissa posted to our online forum.
MELISSA: It's just infuriating and it makes me even more vigilant about defending my right to exist. Please note that as pacifistic and peace-loving as the transgender community might be, there are members of my community that will not hesitate to defend ourselves. I can assure all who might ever attempt such an act of violence on me, that there would be a much different video viraling around the Internet.
MARTIN: Thanks, Melissa.
Lee, switching gears now, in last week's Barbershop roundtable, the guys talked about the ongoing tiff between filmmakers Tyler Perry and Spike Lee. Both are African-American. Lee is among the critics who say that Perry's films portray African-Americans as caricatures. And here's a clip from Perry's latest film, "Madea's Big Happy Family."
(Soundbite of film, "Madea's Big Happy Family")
Mr. DAVID MANN (Actor): (As Brown) Mabel, can you do something for me, baby?
Mr. TYLER PERRY (Filmmaker, Actor): (As Madea): Yes.
Mr. MANN: Do one thing for me?
Mr. PERRY: Yes.
Mr. MANN: Can you just hold me one more time?
(Soundbite of slap)
MARTIN: A lot of people wrote to us both in defense of Tyler Perry and also to agree with Spike Lee's criticism. We heard from Lazlo(ph), who posted this to our online forum. He writes: Not every movie has to be a heady, artistic statement. However, the stereotypes in the Perry movies have been done to death. If it were new or had some sort of ironic twist to it, then I could give it a pass. But the fact is it's old and pathetic, need I mention demeaning?
HILL: Well, thanks, Lazlo. But Angela does not agree. She posted this. I'd like to thank Tyler Perry for continuing to deliver very positive messages through his humor. I am a 61-year-old native Washingtonian. A lot of what he depicts on the big screen is what I've seen and lived. He consistently shows the three Rs in everything he does: respect, religion and resilience - something we as a society need to be reminded of on the regular.
MARTIN: Well, thank you, Angela.
And speaking of reminders, we would like to tell listeners that today we are celebrating four years of TELL ME MORE. We took to the airwaves right around this time back in 2007. We've been growing ever since. We want to say happy anniversary to our supporters and listeners. But today is actually a bittersweet day as well. And, Lee, I'll let you explain why.
HILL: Well, Michel, as you and the staff here know, today is my last day with TELL ME MORE. And it is a little sad for me because I'm proud to say I was here when it all began. But I'm excited to report that I'll be moving west to Denver. I'll be joining the great team at Colorado Public Radio where I will be reporting and doing what I've done here - reaching out to new audiences.
MARTIN: What do you mean a little sad? It's very sad.
(Soundbite of laughter)
HILL: Very sad. Very sad.
MARTIN: Well, you will be missed. And as always, thank you, Lee.
HILL: And thank you, Michel, for everything.
MARTIN: And, finally, all this month we've been hearing poetic tweets from our audience as part of our celebration of National Poetry Month. We've received more than 500 responses from all over the country. But today we decided that it was appropriate for Lee Hill, our digital media guy, to have the last word in our series, since it's his last day with us at NPR. So, will you read your tweet for us?
HILL: My pleasure, Michel. Well, here it is.
(Reading) TELL ME MORE is my enlightenment and my love, a metaphor for all things wonderful, never forgotten, always cherished, farewell.
MARTIN: Aw. Well, that's our last poetic tweet as part of our Muses and Metaphor series. Comes from our very own Lee Hill. Wishing you the very best on your new and exciting job in Denver with Colorado Public Radio. If you've missed any of our previous selections and you'd like to hear them, just go to the TELL ME MORE website. Go to NPR.org and click on the Programs menu to find TELL ME MORE.
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