Tyler Perry is one of the world’s most successful African American entertainment entrepreneurs. He is not just an actor but also a writer, producer and director. Perry’s first film, Diary of a Mad Black Woman (2005), kick-started his “Madea” franchise as the first movie made its mark as number one in the box office. This scene comes from Madea’s Family Reunion (2006) in which Madea (played by Perry) talks to her foster child, Nikki, about standing up to bullies. It is an example of a mix of humor and inspirational messages. These characteristics have gone on to become the trademark of Perry’s film empire.
What are some of the factors that account for the great success that Tyler Perry has experienced in the filmmaking world? Have you seen any other films that use the same characteristics?
How are African American characters usually depicted in movies? Is it different for male and female characters?
Some have asserted that the Madea character is an offensive depiction rooted in old stereotypes of African Americans. Do you agree, disagree?
What challenges do you think African American filmmakers face in the entertainment industry?
Perry’s work has been critiqued by many for playing off of old stereotypes of African Americans in his work (Madea as a modern-day-mammy character, for instance), and using low-brow humor to attract a big audience. Even other prominent African American filmmakers like Spike Lee has argued that, even though Perry has been extremely commercially successful, the content of his films has been underwhelming.