Thursday, September 1, 2011

There are NO Madea's in my Family

Yes, I've actually had to say those words to quite a few people and that's the problem with Tyler Perry and Hollywood. I'm not sure if it's Hollywood or us as the supporting audience, but it seems as if only one Black anything is allowed to be hot at a time, and right now, Tyler Perry is hot. His movies gross millions, ($500 million to date),his book, Don't Make a Black Woman Take Off Her Earrings: Madea's Uninhibited Commentaries on Love and Life , reached number 1 on the New York Time's Best Seller list, he has not one, but two television shows on TBS, and he's done something that not many Black actors/producers/directors have ever been able to do: He's had crossover success! And while I would never hate on anyone's success or hustle, I often wonder if we (Black women in particular) are paying the price for his success. Far too often I've heard people (both Black and White) make references to Madea and expect me to respond in a knowing manner. In fact, I've heard Mr. Perry himself say on numerous occasions that there's a Madea in all Black families. But the truth of the matter is, there are no Madea's in my family. In fact, most of the characters in Mr. Perry's movies are completely foreign to me. All of the young women in my family are bright, ambitious, and motivated, not lost and looking for love like most of Mr. Perry's female characters. This may sound shocking, but NONE of the young men in my family have been to jail, and while they may not be angels, they're certainly not the woman beating, dead beat dad's so often portrayed in Tyler Perry films. And while my grandmother (may she forever rest in peace) was a force to be reckoned with, she was a far cry from Madea. My grandmother's strength did not come from her handgun or her ability to tackle grown men. Her strength came from her experience. If she saw you making a mistake she had made herself, she'd let you know before you did it. And if you went ahead and made that mistake anyway, she'd call you a fool, let you know that she told you so, and help you figure out how to fix it.

What Mr. Perry doesn't seem to realize is that far too often people believe that what they see on the big screen. And if I didn't know far too many awesome Black women, I would think we all hated men, were over bearing bitches, gold digging, single mothers, down on our luck and were the spawn of Madea. I would think that the majority of Black men are superficial, dead beat dads, that work blue collar jobs. Tyler Perry is in a very unique position: he's a Black man who can actually help shape the way Black families are viewed by non Black audiences. How dynamic would it be for his next films to feature successful Black women happily married to successful Black men and raising children that are ambitious and motivated? Or even single Black women that don't hate Black men and are enjoying life on the single circuit? My hope for 2012 is that Tyler Perry realizes what a powerful medium he has and uses it to help change some of the perceptions of Black women and the Black family...

1 comment:

  1. Let 1st start off by saying, I get where you are coming from. My family also has no madea.

    The thing is though, more people than not can relate to the characters in TP's movies. That's why he and his movies remain so popular. Some of my cousins have been in jail. Some of them are single mothers. Some have been in abusive relationship and bad marriages. And while your family seems to be a far cry from his characters, a lot people have gone through some of the things he writes about or are currently going through it.

    Now while I have no heavyset woman who is loud and carries a gun in her purse in my family, like a lot of families, mine can relate to the story and the messages.