Friday, February 09, 2007

Why does this bother me?

Is it just me or is there something creepy about all this? I know Flip Wilson did it, and Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon did it, and many others did it. But it feels a little like what Dave Chappelle talked about when he quit his show on Comedy Central: Is the audience laughing with Madea, Big Momma and Rasputia or at them and the real women like them? Or is the audience laughing with or at the actors hidden under all the latex? In other words, who's the butt of the joke: fat black women or emasculated black men?
Tyler Perry's portrayal of Madea feels loving, and so maybe doesn't belong in the same category as the others, but still I'm glad his new movie goes in another direction.


Anonymous said...

It's not just you. I agree with your assessment of Tyler Perry's, Madea. There's nothing mean about that. Also, it helps that he includes a wide range of people in his casts: older black women, younger black women, strong black men, annoying black men... The diversity of characters makes a difference.

The other examples posted on your site today are more than just exaggerated personalities. They're (IMHO) mean-spirited caricatures that encourage the audience to laugh AT and be repelled by the character.

When it comes to portrayals like these, I vote the only way I can: with my time and with my pocketbook. I don't watch them on TV and I won't pay to see them at the movies.

Good topic!

lafreya said...

I am so glad to see this topic.

I saw a comercial for this movie the other night and I was appalled. I just pray that people wouldn't go spend their money on this crap.

The reviewer in the Detroit News gave movie a grade of F and called Norbit the most disturbing, morally repugnant, nightmare-inducing film of the century so far because it goes out of its way to reinforce negative stereotype about black people especially about black women. He also said people shouldn't be laughing at this movie that should be crying.


Anonymous said...

I really don't understand what the problem is here. Eddie Murphy has been creating characters for years that made us all laugh. Where is your self esteem that you let someone on screen make you feel bad about yourself? Eddie isn't representing heavy women of color, he's being himself. A wonderful comic talent. I don't see anyone from the Asian community saying anything about his performance as an asian man in this movie? Did white women come out and protest about the Wayan brothers when they did White Chicks? When did we get so dern sensitive that we can't laugh at someone have fun on the movie screen. Monique and Queen Latifah are wonderful representations of heavy set black women doing wonderful things on the screen. I didn't think this movie was one of his best, but I certainly didn't walk away with the thought that he was making fun of me either. If this movie is a reflection of who YOU are, perhaps YOU should go see a doctor about YOUR lack of self esteem. No one has the power to make YOU feel bad, but YOU!

Tayari Jones said...

I'm with you that these images bother me too. I have to say that I don't like the Tyler Perry portrayal either, even though I agree it is not as bad as the others. Why is the idea of the sexually unattractive black woman so popular? Why are these man-women always dark?

Don't get me started. But to the person who doesn't understand that represenation affects culture, I'd reccommend a reading list that includes bell hook's BLACK LOOKS.

Carleen Brice said...

It's disturbing to me that these are men in drag (and ugly drag at that). It feels misogynistic. I like Eddie Murphy in some things, but this wouldn't be the first time he showed some disturbing anger toward black women (remember his "bush bitch" routine?).

The loud, "sassy" (Lord, spare me from sassy!) big black woman who shows up in TV commercials and movies is a whole nother topic, but she's a character that I don't relate to either.