The Mainstreaming of Madea
As a British born JAmerican raised in the Catholic Church and I know that this unusual upbringing makes some parts of Southern black religious culture alien to me, but Madea is not one of them. As a film scholar, I know that white blackface actors began the theatrical tradition of dressing like black women and defaming them as totally without femininity. With his new film Tyler Perry hopes to bring his vile stereotype of black womanhood to white audiences.I hope this is a box office flop of major proportions.
For many, especially black people who see in her a mockery of our own grandmothers, Tyler Perry’s Madea is little more than a mammy—an insult to the matriarchal community figure that Perry claims to celebrate. And unforgivably, when compared to Flip Wilson’s Geraldine or even Martin Lawrence’s Big Momma, his black-men-in-drag-for-comic-effect peers, Perry’s Madea—that crass, violent, ignorant, bizarrely asexual depiction of a black Southern woman that he insists is based on women he has actually known—simply isn’t funny.