Tyler Perry and his alter ego Madea
"The typical Winston Jerome story starts with a beautiful, educated, professional black woman trapped in a troubled marriage with the brown-skinned bald dude from Law & Order.Then, a dude who looks like Shemar Moore shows up as the shirtless, light-skinned gardener who just got out of jail. At first she acts like she doesn't like the light-skinned gardener, but eventually gets to know him and sees his sensitive side. Being a good Christian woman, she gives her marriage one last chance because Jesus said so. Just when the brown-skinned dude from Law & Order is about to hit her, here comes the shirtless gardener. The woman and the gardener kiss, having found true love through Jesus."Tyler Perry
is a mega-successful playwright/director/actor/producer/author whose film Diary of a Mad Black Woman
shocked mainstream box office watchers by opening at #1. It was perhaps less of a surprise to his African American fanbase, who are familiar with his popular stage plays (from which Mad Black Woman
and several other of his subsequent films were adapted), as the demographic for his films centers on black America.
Perry is perhaps most physically recognizable as his alter ego Madea, a violence-prone
, loud-mouthed grandmother
who has appeared in many of his movies. Madea is a contraction of 'Mother Dearest' = "Ma" Dea(r), a term used in the vernacular of many black Americans in the Southern U.S.
He and his work provoke a strong Love It or Hate It
reaction. Some people appreciate his focus on church-going black middle-class characters, both as the subject of his stories and as the audience he typically courts (both of which have long been ignored by mainstream Hollywood). He has also earned respect for being a self-made millionaire who has managed to find success outside of the Hollywood system, and for casting talented black actors and actresses who are otherwise underutilized by Hollywood.
However, he's also been criticized for Unfortunate Implications
on several fronts. Some critics point out that Madea would be considered an Ethnic Scrappy
if she were created by a white director, that educated black people in his plays/movies are frequently portrayed as villains while blue-collar black men are presented as virtuous, that corporal punishment and violence are viewed as acceptable punishments for rowdy children, and that it relies too much on the Gospel
as the solution to all life's problems. Given the popularity of such films, it may either be pandering
or cultural conflicts
Regardless of which side of the fence one falls on, Perry's success is inarguable.
Tyler Perry's movies:
Tyler Perry's works contain examples of the following tropes:
- Amoral Attorney: Charles from Diary of a Mad Black Woman is this.
- Linda from Madea Goes to Jail.
- Attention Deficit Creator Disorder: Regardless of how you may feel about his works, you can't question his work ethics. Working on so many projects (films, television, theaters, literature) had made him the highest paid man in Hollywood.
- Author Appeal: Majority of his works are influenced by his faith.
- The Bible: His works are filled with Baptist Christian influences.
- Black Comedy Rape: Jokes on prison rape.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: Another staple in Perry's plays, nearly to the point of Running Gag. Madea has been known to stop giving lines and fuss at people who came to the play late in character. There are also points where Perry will go off script and point out that they are in a play.
Vienne: Madea, go upstairs to your room and close the door!
Madea: Girl, dis a play, there ain't no room and no door! (cue audience and cast laughter)
- Broken Bird: Many of his heroines.
- California Doubling: Averted, his films take place in and are filmed in Atlanta. In fact, he is from there and the house that Madea lives in in the films is his house.
- Comedic Sociopathy: Usually centered around Madea's violent tendencies and belief in corporal punishment.
- Deep South: Most of his movies take place in Atlanta, and several jokes are made about Madea's Southern black accent ("Good mornting!" "Hallelujer!").
- Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male: One of the biggest criticisms against Perry's plays. He toned it down in the films.
- Family Disunion
- God Is Good: Both in his works and in real life.
- Hey, It's That Guy!: Perry himself caused this reaction in Star Trek.
- Hold My Glasses
- Hooker with a Heart of Gold: In a few movies, but most notably Madea Goes to Jail. That one was played by Keshia Knight-Pulliam, a.k.a. Rudy Huxtable.
- In Case You Forgot Who Wrote It: Tyler Perry Productions In Association With Tyler Perry Presents Tyler Perry's Tyler Perry Featuring Tyler Perry As Tyler Perry.
- Infant Immortality: averted in For Colored Girls
- Jerk Ass: Madea is quite possibly the biggest asshole as of late on the big screen or theatre. Granted, she does have her Jerk with a Heart of Gold moments, but even then....
- She's also a serious Karma Houdini. In anything resembling the real world she would have been in jail years ago. In the films when she actually does go to jail she not only gets out early on a technicality, but she becomes a media darling used as an example of how corrupted the legal system has become.
- Melodrama: Chock-full of it.
- Mood Whiplash: Especially prevalent in his Madea films.
- Never Mess with Granny: Madea, just Madea.
- Never Trust a Trailer: His movies tend to be advertised as being about Madea and her wacky hijinks. In reality, she usually serves as simple comic relief in otherwise heavy dramas.
- Not Screened For Critics: None of Perry's films. He feels, not wholly without justification, that critics with mainstream white readership are unlikely to have the necessary background to understand his message.
- Subverted in For Colored Girls. The critics hate the film.
- Oscar Bait: His adaptations of Push and For Colored Girls.... Succeeded the first time.
- Although in the case of Precious (the adaptation of Push), the movie had already been finished, screened, and reviewed by the time he had signed on as Executive Producer. He had no input on the actual movie, but his name recognition (along with that of Oprah Winfrey) allowed the movie to get a better theatrical distribution deal.
- Plucky Comic Relief: Madea
- Pretty in Mink: The Aspen scenes in Why Did I Get Married.
- Production Posse: He has a group of actors that appear in most of his movies, due to the continuity between them.
- Rags to Riches: He had a rough childhood and was abused by his father, was molested as a child, and was homeless for a period of time. He now is rated by Forbes magazine as being the sixth highest paid man in Hollywood, and his movies have grossed more than $400 million worldwide.
- Rape as Drama: Prison Rape.
- Then there's that scene from For Colored Girls...
- It's probably a good bet that the woman or women who unrelentingly hates men in the beginning has been raped at one point or another.
- Perry himself was molested as a child
- Reality Subtext: Most if not all of his heroines have some sort of sexual abuse or assault in their background; Perry himself said on Oprah that he was molested on three separate occasions as a child.
- Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Most, if not all, of the female protagonists in his movies are this.
- Spotlight Stealing Title: Many of the movies are titled after Madea and are advertised as being about Madea, despite the fact that she is usually not the main character.
- Talking to Himself: Between Medea, Uncle Joe, and the man himself.
- Team Mom / Team Dad: Madea always serves as these in both the films and plays.
- Throw It In: Not sure if this still goes on, but in his early days of nothing but stage plays, a lot of the lines/interaction of the characters was obviously improv and was subject to change based on the city of the performance.
- Token White: This video lovingly parodies the five white characters in a Tyler Perry movie.
- Subverted in Witness Protection, where the main character is white and his family play big roles.
- Wholesome Crossdresser: Perry himself, in his Madea persona. It's doubtful that any of his films will concern any actual characters who are Wholesome Crossdressers.
- Writer on Board: A lot of these films are his biases, and things taken from his life.
- Wolverine Publicity: Madea inititally. Over the years, Perry has begun to focus less on Madea, even if her name is still in the title.