Our Dear Madea

In Uncategorized on August 21, 2009 at 11:55 am

Tyler Perry (no relation) has turned an endearing figure–Madea–into a mainstream success. When Perry turned his plays into movies, there were some who doubted that this would result in crossover or mainstream success. In large part, Perry faced criticism over the very character that has garnered him so much success, Madea. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, author Donald Bogle believes Madea to be “mammy-like. If a white director put out this product, the Black audience would be appalled.” In that same EW article, actress Viola Davis responds to such criticism by saying that “people feel the images are very stereotypical, and black people are frustrated because they feel we should be more evolved. But there are very few black images in Hollywood, so black people are going to his movies. That’s the dichotomy. Tyler Perry is making money.” Yet Perry suggests that Madea is a tribute to several women in his life; and furthermore, is bringing life to a central figure within the African American community, but with a comedic side. Is Perry’s Madea supposed to be taken seriously? Should and where should we draw the line with racial stereotypes and comedy? As for Perry, he views himself as bringing the rest of the world to a side of African American film and culture that has been ignored, and many continue to believe and buy his product.


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