‘Madea’: Bad for black America?
If you happened to buy a ticket to Tyler Perry’s Madea Goes to Jail without knowing what you were getting into, you might think you’d stumbled onto a cheery comedy about an overgrown granny with anger-management issues. A black Mrs. Doubtfire, say, with car chases and reefer jokes. You’d never suspect that you had strayed into the midst of a culture war — one that’s been simmering inside the African-American community since before blackface. ”I loved working with Tyler Perry, but he’s a controversial, complicated figure,” says Viola Davis, who costarred in Madea Goes to Jail and recently snagged an Oscar nomination for Doubt. ”People feel the images [in his movies] are very stereotypical, and black people are frustrated because they feel we should be more evolved. But there are very few black images in Hollywood, so black people are going to his movies. That’s the dichotomy. Tyler Perry is making money.”