*It appears the success of recent black themed films like “Lee Daniels’ The Butler,” “12 Years A Slave” and now, “The Best Man Holiday” have made Tyler Perry‘s Madea franchise the target of an online boycott, according to Uptown. The petition wants to encourage audiences to stay away from the December 13 opening of “A Madea Christmas.”
Now, you know how one-dimensional folks can be. A movie has got to be this way or that way and no in-between. In this case, because the aforementioned films are well made, cinematically beautiful, offer intelligent characters, and accurate historical references; it makes a movie like “A Madea Christmas” – which is unabashedly obnoxious; overweight with full-blown stereotypical characters, and themes that epitomize the ridiculous, stand out like a pink elephant in the room. It’s like comparing raisins to succulent red grapes.
But does it have to mean we should boycott a movie like “Madea?” Is it fair to say that a movie like this has no place here, no right to be made? Can’t we be satisfied with more of a balance instead? After all, the reason why Tyler Perry keeps making these movies is because his audience pays to go see them. “Madea Goes to Jail” brought in $41 million.
But this is an old, boring argument for Perry. Remember fans petitioned for Kim Kardashian‘s removal from the Jurnee Smollett-Bell led “Temptation?” Even though it wasn’t a Madea movie or a sequel of any kind, it still brought in $22.3 million. Nothing to sneeze at.
This newest boycott is an attempt to get Hollywood to green-light more high-brow black films. Good luck with that. It probably won’t make much of a dent in the psyche of those Hollywood execs who only see the bottom line. The moolah. The dinero. If it makes money, the investors are happy; they are not in the business to uplift a race.
Lee Daniels said Hollywood wouldn’t give him a dime for his movie; and “The Best Man Holiday” director Malcolm D. Lee struggled to receive a green-light for the sequel; so there is no guarantees that the execs can be swayed by boycotting a movie like “Madea.” If you recall, Perry actually attempted serious subject matter by adapting Ntozake Shange‘s Tony Award-nominated choreopoem “For Colored Girls” into a film. Remember the negative press for that choice?
But Tyler’s got his own studio. He can bypass Lionsgate and the others. He doesn’t need them to get his films made.
It’s a new day and 2014 will see Perry continue to expand beyond Madea. “Single Moms Clubs” starring Nia Long, will tell the story of a group of single mothers who band together after an incident at their children’s school. Face it, Perry’s movies may not be everyone’s cup ‘o tea; but he keeps black actors working and employs a diverse crew of people to make these films.
Black audiences might consider looking beyond mainstream movies for images that promote and tell our stories in a different way. Director Ava Duvernay’s African-American Film Festival Releasing Movement (AFFRM) gives black independent filmmakers theatrical distribution. Supporting independent releases and crowd-funding movies that present tri-dimensional black characters is yet another way to place these images in the eye of those that will appreciate them.
Duvernay directed episode eight of the Kerry Washington-led drama Scandal, and released “The Door,” a short film starring Alfre Woodard and Gabrielle Union. Without the support from black moviegoers, her work may have gone unnoticed.
Our hard earned dollars have the power to determine the movies that are produced and images that feed our mind and soul. Instead of a boycott Madea campaign, why not support filmmakers making quality films that include non-stereotypical black characters? There is room for both.
To see the original Uptown magazine article click here.
Watch the trailer for “A Madea Christmas”: