Let’s talk TP – Tyler Perry, that is.
My graduation from UCF has keep me pretty focused these past few months so I didn’t notice that the famed actor/director Tyler Perry was releasing another film. Who am I kidding? Even if it were off-school season, he wouldn’t have beeped my radar. If a friend (a White female, mind you) hadn’t called and suggested that I crash the theater with her, I probably wouldn’t have ever known he had a new movie until it was 3 years old.
Apparently, his new flick – Madea’s Big Happy Family – doesn’t break loose from the mold Perry has cast for himself.
The movie begins with Shirley, Madea’s niece, receiving bad news about her health. Understandably, she desires all her family to be around her at the same time in the same place when she breaks the bad news. What I don’t understand is why she didn’t include a teaser with the request. Half the movie’s over-the-top dramatics could have been avoided if Mother Shirley said, “I have something important I want to tell you, so please come to dinner tonight at 6 p.m.”
Of course not. To think that the average Black woman would be upfront is absurd and completely out-of-stereotype-oops-I-meant-character. In any case, each time Shirley’s children and grandchildren gather, they almost immediately split due to problems and distractions of their own. One daughter, Tammy, can’t manager her unruly children. The other, Kimberly, is always an angry bitch. Both daughters blame and verbally abuse their spineless husbands, causing hurting marriages. Byron, now free on the street after serving two years in jail, is under pressure by some lazy chick to deal drugs again. Sure, Byron, played by Bow Wow, has a J-O-B now, but he’s also got B-A-B-Y M-A-M-A drama.
Elderly pothead Aunt Bam pressures Madea to get involved so Shirley can share her secret. Madea employs her ghetto antics to gather the clan together, dishing out tough love, laughter and other secrets – up til the very end at Maury’s cameo appearance.
Fans of Perry’s Madea films will find their recommended (and then some!) amount of angry women, timid men, and confessional dinner conversations (or confrontations. You pick) and even a church scene.
Plenty of Black people adore his (tiredly) tried, but (apparently?) true renditions of Black family life, but there seems to be a growing amount of people (of ALL races) who would like a more accurate portrayal of today’s average Black family.
I’m not sure where the change of heart is coming from (Obama, should I give you more undue credit?) and I don’t care about the supposed feud between Tyler Perry and Spike Lee. But I’m glad to see that people of all colors are doubting the negative portrayal of Black people in Perry’s Madea movies.
I’m a woman. I’m educated. I just happen to be Black.
And I didn’t go watch Madea’s Big Happy Family because I’m Black, but because I was bored. Sure, he made me laugh a few times, but more often than not, he made me irritated. Annoyed. Dismayed.
Because my own family – and the families of my circle of friends – never acted like that. My own family was never as trivial as that, nor as destructively dramatic. So when someone (White or Black) says, “Yes, everyone with a black family can relate to ‘Madea’s buffoonery,'” they are WRONG. My family are not buffoons. And I’m sure yours aren’t either.
Maybe the people I know are Black sheeps within the Black population, but as young ladies, we didn’t go around chomping our gum, stretching out names in an annoying voice and talking with food in our mouths like street whores. As children, we didn’t call our Mothers by their first names (without fear of death), tell our Dads they’re punks (and live to retell the story) or refuse to do our chores (because we liked asses to sit on). As Mothers, we didn’t lie to the police to put the hard-working father in jail (How do you expect to get paid if the baby daddy lost his job, you dumb bitch?). As parents, we didn’t argue and disrespect each other in front of the children and give them an excuse to do the same.
Perry’s portrayal of Madea’s family in his films illustrates that every family has its problems. Yet, there are problems with his film that I doubt even Madea can solve. Maybe it’s because Madea herself is a problem. Maybe it’s because the problems portrayed aren’t the types typical Blacks are dealing with. When he’s directed a film that properly portrays the Black family under assault by modern racism, job discrimination and education inequality, you let me know.
Essentially, I was disappointed with Madea’s Big Happy Family. Sure, it got some laughs. But it got a lot of “What the hell?” reactions too. Speaking of Hell, the bloopers at the end were nearly better than the actual film.
Mr. Perry, I suggest Madea get a clue from that Wive Swap show and investigate the life of today’s REAL Black family. Thanks for the laughs though.