If you know me, you know I'm something like a movie buff. My love for movies stems from my parents, who go to the show every Saturday, and own every dvd known to man. A handful of the dvd's they own are directed, produced, and starring one Mr. Tyler Perry. The chitlin circuit playwright-turned-mogul has all but cornered the market on "black cinema". And while he's ventured into films with higher production value and more traditional plots, his bread and butter since he started out doing stage plays has always been his super-stereotyping matriarch, Madea.
Madea's popularity has mainly been amongst the traditional, baptist church crowds, who feel as if her character is someone straight out of their family photo album. And while I didn't mind the excessive behavior in the plays, and even the first few movies, I've grown tired of the loud, gun-toting, mammyish grandmother, who I'm starting to think Tyler keeps creating roles for so he has an excuse to curse.
But the plot thickens with the upcoming release of Madea's Witness Protection. For all the issues I've had with the character and her antics, Madea has never actually had the starring role in any of Perry's films until now. And it's almost perfect irony that Madea gets her time in the spotlight in a film that from what I can tell is attempting to crossover into a mainstream audience by casting mostly white co-stars. I love Tyler going after a new audience, and I've said several times that he'd be a more successful director if he stepped outside his box. He first broke away from the Madea mold with Daddy's Little Girls, and while it was obvious at times that he was attempting something new, he later showed tremendous growth with films like Why Did I Get Married, and The Family That Preys. But he always seems to follow his career highlights with films like Madea Goes to Jail and Madea's Big Happy Family.
I think Tyler Perry is an extremely smart businessman, but as a filmmaker he still gets caught trying to please everyone. When critics blasted his "Madea" movies to the point that most wouldn't even review them, he took that as an opportunity to branch away from the character, and for the most part he hit several home runs. But instead of continuing that growth as a filmmaker, he takes steps back trying to please his core audience with a character he thinks keeps them around. What he's not understanding is, no one in his core audience is begging for a Madea film. They'll see whatever he puts out, so doing more films of substance like Good Deeds and for Colored Girls can only gain him new viewers. Adding slapstick white characters to a Madea themed film may not only keep away the mainstream audience Tyler Perry wants so badly to accept him, but he runs the risk of losing the core audience who wants so badly to see him grow.