COMMENTARY: MADEA’S COOL AND ALL BUT…WHERE’S THE ALTERNATIVE?

This really is like beating a dead horse but once I heard that “A Madea Christmas” was set for production, I had to really sit and think things over. Tyler Perry made it; yes, we all know of him being homeless and whatnot before gaining fame on the gospel play circuit off Madea, the pistol whipping, no-nonsense grandmother who references the Bible but refuses to associate herself with the church because ALL of her family members do that enough for her.

I understand that as black people, we should embrace filmmakers who look like us because it’s hard enough for us to get movies made, television shows produced, and actos/actresses important roles. I get that, I do, but I feel like integrity is being sacrificed for the sake of seeing ourselves on the big screen.

The best thing about this Tyler Perry success story is that he’s got his own studio, meaning he can put other artists of color on. The way I see it, the black community needs more of “our own” (I really hate using that) behind the scenes: in studios where film are greenlighted and we need more writers and directors.

A broader range of vision should be employed in black filmmaking. I feel like I know of more Madea projects than I can keep track of yet I hardly know of anything else black directors/writers are doing. I KNOW there are so many people of color out there making films and such because I’ve come across a few, thanks to the wonderful world of social networking, and their projects seem profound.

People like Tyler Perry have the power to put such radical projects that could blow our community away yet at the same time put out fun movies that balances out the seriousness. I think my generation and those younger than me are either accepting what Hollywood is feeding us because they don’t know any better or are fighting hard to bring back the days when people looked forward to films produced, written, and directed by our community because we have such a variety of stories to tell.

New stories aren’t being told because studios are settling for reruns for the sake of knowing it’ll be accepted. And of course the black people who speak out about this and say “hey I don’t like those Madea movies because I don’t think that is an accurate depiction of what I feel my people are about” get looked at funny and are accused of “taking themselves too seriously”.

They’re right, though. My grandmother was ratchet but she was nothing like Madea. I don’t know of any family members that act like her. If anything, the supporting characters in the movies are more accurate than she is but Madea’s what gets people in the door. I guess that’s the marketing strategy and that’ll be what people use as an excuse, but I feel like there is some subject matter that is being left out when it comes to filmmaking.

Where are the movies about young black women in college trying to make a name for ourselves? Where’s our “The Devil Wears Prada”? I want a “What Happens in Vegas”, negro-style. I know we should strive to be different but we don’t have a different stock of problems because of our color.

We have additional trials because of our ethnicity but as a human race, we all face the same trials and tribulations. Our movies don’t always have to be loud and ratchet. Madea’s first movie and every movie since has sold us the same cup of Kool-Aid every time. It’s time for a fresh batch, people.

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