How Do You Solve a ‘Problem’ Like Madea? Re/Reading Tyler Perry

Thu, Dec 6, 2018, 4:30 pm to 6:00 pm
Location: 
106 McCormick
Audience: 
Open to the public
Speaker(s): 

Miriam Petty was a fellow in the Society 2006-2009 and affiliated with the Departments of English and African American Studies. Her research and teaching focus on race, stardom, performance, reception, adaptation, genre and the history of African American representation in Hollywood. Her book "Stealing the Show: African American Performers and Audiences in 1930s Hollywood" (2016) explores the complex relationships between black audiences and black performers in the classical Hollywood era; it received the Society for Cinema and Media Studies' Best First Book Award. Petty earned her Ph.D. in American Studies from Emory University’s Graduate Institute of the Liberal Arts.

Tyler Perry’s iconic Mabel “Madea” Simmons has been alternately lauded as a tribute to black maternal figures, denounced as an emasculated cinematic image of black manhood, decried as a mockery of black women themselves, and claimed as a gesture to Perry’s surreptitious queerness. In his films, Perry consistently posits Madea and her antics as the solution to domestic and communal problems, even as the character raises intersecting problems of gender, sexuality, race, geography, performance, and generation for Perry’s audiences. This talk will read Perry’s recent holiday films "A Madea Christmas" and "Boo! A Madea Halloween," to consider Madea’s narrative and visual relationship to the “problem” of Black nostalgia, especially for the American South.