Today in class, when we discussed black men playing the stereotypical black Grandma, I immediately thought of Tyler Perry. Perry is a prominent black actor,director, and producer. He is known for his Grandma roles in the "Madea" films that he makes ("Diary of a Mad Black Woman," "Madea's Family Reunion," "I Can Do Bad All By Myself," et al.) In each of these films, Perry plays a heavy-set, aggressive, yet loving black grandmother. Perry masters his character very well, and plays Madea's husband at the same time throughout most of the films.
The potential problem here, is that Perry's films tend to portray black males in a very negative light. While the message of his films are usually uplifting and relatable to the black community, it is debated that Perry might be perpetuating the violent perceptions of black males through his plot choices. In "I Can Do Bad All By Myself," for example, one of the female characters is in an abusive relationship to a morally-deprived black male. It is a Latino male who steps in and saves her. In "Madea's Family Reunion," though one of the female characters ends up happily married to a good black male, she first endures an incredibly abusive relationship with a rich black male. According to black film director Ernest Harris, Perry's most recent film, "For Colored Girls," also places black males in the criminal, misogynist, abusive category:
"It sure does get old being portrayed as the villain in popular culture.
So while paying homage to all of the tough, motherly black matriarchs, Perry might be lacking in portraying enough positive images of black males. Here's the full article from the Huffington Post by Harris on this debate:
Any comments? In my opinion, Perry is doing positive work by casting phenomenal black actors in a film market that centers on the racial majority. His profound messages can be felt by all races, not simply african americans. The fact that he writes movies like "Daddy's Little Girls" with a black male character who fights for his daughters, shows that Perry isn't denigrating black masculinity.