How Do You Solve a ‘Problem’ Like Madea? Re/Reading Tyler Perry
Society of Fellows' Lecture Series: inaugurated in the 2018-19 academic year, the Society’s public lecture series invites former fellows to present their current research. Miriam Petty, Associate Professor, Department of Radio/Television/Film at Northwestern, was a fellow in the Society 2006-2009 and affiliated with the Departments of English and African American Studies.
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.