What’s So Funny About Madea? Nothing. (Column from the Washington Post

 I would like to hear from people who both enjoy Madea as well as those who are offended or tired of him her.  Here is one man’s opinion.    

By Courtland Miloy

   Wednesday, February 25, 2009 

I went to see the Tyler Perry movie “Madea Goes to Jail,” in which Perry plays a wise-cracking black grandmother, Madea, short for “Mother Dear” and ebonically pronounced “muh deah.”

With an extensive criminal past that includes “supersize stripper,” attempted murderer and check fraud artist, Madea is a near-cult figure among many African Americans, especially women. Thanks in large part to them, Perry’s comedic creation debuted as the No. 1 movie in America over the weekend, raking in $41 million and 34 percent of the weekend moviegoing audience, according to box-office tracker Exhibitor Relations.

At the AMC Magic Johnson Capital Centre 12 in Landover, where Madea is being shown 14 times a day, I was hoping to get a clue as to why this man in drag is so popular. And with the movie featuring guest appearances by Whoopi Goldberg, Dr. Phil, Judge Mathis and Al Sharpton, perhaps I’d even get in a laugh or two.

Boy, was I wrong — on both counts.

All around me you could almost hear the funny bones cracking — deep guttural laughter coming not only from kids in the audience but from my peers in the AARP set, as well.

And there I sat, silently ranting: There is nothing funny about this black man in pantyhose. And where is all of this cross-dressing-black-man stuff coming from, anyway? First, comedians Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence star in high-grossing movies as the fattest, ugliest black women that Hollywood makeup artists can conjure up, and now here’s Perry with his gussied-up version of the same butt of the joke.

By the way, I don’t want to hear diddly about Robin Williams as Mrs. Doubtfire or Milton Berle in high heels. Having a black man play super mammy is not the same thing. Perhaps it would be were it not for America’s perverse, systemic and centuries-long efforts to humiliate African men and women and turn them into slaves.

The only good a Madea movie could possibly do would be to remind us that the scars of oppression are deep and enduring, often operating below the level of consciousness, then breaking out in the most bizarre manifestation of self-hate and self-sabotage, including pathetic images on the big screen.

Of course, Perry’s fans don’t see it that way. When I asked some women in the theater if they were at all uneasy about Perry in wigs, lipstick and rouge, they clucked tongues and rolled eyes in a manner that Madea her/himself would no doubt approve.

“Oh, please,” snapped Darlene Johnson, 51. “It’s just comedy.”

Yeah, and misogynistic gansta rap is just music.

Said Sheena Young, also 51: “He’s just multitasking. His initial budget didn’t allow for him to hire all the people he needed so he played them himself. It’s awesome.”

I’m not taking away anything from the 39-year-old Perry’s resourcefulness and ingenuity.. He pulled himself up by the bootstraps from a low-income household in New Orleans, started writing and putting on stage plays about Madea (supposedly a composite of women in his life) and went on to become one of the most successful filmmakers in America.

He has a beautiful home and his own studios in Atlanta. He hires lots of young black actors and production personnel and makes considerable contributions to worthy causes.

He is awesome.

It’s just that his movies are awful.

Here’s a typical scene:

Madea’s brother, Uncle Joe, also played by Perry, is a crusty old coot who breathes with the aid of an oxygen tank while smoking marijuana throughout the movie (he even wears a bong around his neck). Madea, ever the boss woman, scolds him mercilessly about the dangers of mixing fire and oxygen. And — here’s where the audience howls — as Madea waddles past, her behind wide as a doorway, Uncle Joe cracks: “King Kong ain’t got nothing on her.”

How’d you like to see that on a movie marquee: Madea the black woman as King Kong? That’s about as funny, say, as a dead monkey cartoon from the New York Post?

It’s not a sign of respect but one of disdain to portray black women as some updated Jemima (that’s what a white character in the movie calls her) from the antebellum South. Sure, all of Perry’s fans claim to know someone like Madea. But in truth, we know nothing — only that she is aging and irrationally angry, existing to clean up everybody’s else’s mess, a linebacker of a house servant whose unmet emotional needs remain a mystery even to the great Dr. Phil himself.

We may laugh at her, but the joke is on us.

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A Mother’s Work and Wisdom Pays Off

mom-at-santa-monica-pier

 The Real Hustle and Flow Serve

Mom and her late husband George moved into a cozy apartment complex in Inglewood, California in the late 80’s.  Like most complexes in the area, it’s gated with secured underground garages.  With her keen eye for decore and artistic woman’s touch, I’m sure its the nicest apartment in the building.  The moving in price for this little hacienda?  $750 per month. 

For years the rent remained the same.  Mom and George knew the owners – a couple who owns several properties and a couple charter schools.  George, who was a CPA did their taxes so there was a working relationship between the two parties.

There is another reason my mom became a favored tenant.  She cleans not just her own apartment military style, she also polices the building for trash and debris.  She sweeps from street corner to street corner, and takes a water hose to the building a couple times a week.  It’s just how she is.  She enjoys a clean environment and it’s good exercise she told me.

Obviously being in one place for 20 years, there has been some change with the other tenants.  Some of the newer neighbors don’t value cleanliness and mom caught one lady dumping trash on the property.  That led to this exchange:

Mom:  Are you going to pick that up? 

Neighbor lady:  And who are you? 

Mom: “Uhh, I’m your neighbor.” 

Since that incident, mom has run into this person several times but the lady avoids eye or any other contact with mom and refuses to speak.

George passed a couple years ago.  And because the rent remained the same mom was able to manipulate some figures and survive on her income alone.  But a couple months ago the notice came that the rent was indeed finally increasing by $190.  Shocked, stunned and fearful mom went to the office to talk about the rent.  It seems that an advisor told the owners that they should be charging a lot more for the property in terms of the area and the value.  I would agree that the two bed room two bath place is worth more than $750 a month.  Still that was only logistics.  An increase that drastic would really strain mom’s finances.  She needed an edge.  Something to ease this potential monkey of her back.  While sitting before the owner’s wife, she thought about the services she was already providing in and around the building for over 20 years, thought quickly and blurted out, “You need a building manager?”  She pointed out that she has been doing the work of one anyway without benefit, and would probably do the same even if the rent increase still went into effect.  Perhaps she could continue to service the area for the difference in exchange for keeping the rent the same.  After consultation, they decided it was a go.  Mom could do what she was already doing and keep her rent cost down.  The owners would continue to have a person who looks after the place, an already loyal tennant who is heavily invested in the community.  A true win win.  Mom truly demonstrated the virtues of servant-hood and her giving efforts paid off financially for her in the long run.

Her last words on the subject?  “Next time I run into that littering neighbor and she ask who I am, I’ll look her straight in the face and say, ‘I’m the manager bitch!”

That’s my mom, a true treasure!

American “Whackness” on Fox Television

As a lover of great music and an advocate of following your dreams, this is exactly why I cannot take American Karaoke errrrrr Idol seriously!  Last night on this rare occasion I watched the show, and this is what I get. 

This photo released by Fox shows Nicholas Mitchell performing ...

 … And will someone please help Randy expand his vocabulary.  Surely there are more words than ” the bomb, and Yo Yo dog!”  He says the same sh*# he said from season one!

And poor Paula.   I don’t know what medication that girl is on.  But she be lookin HIGH. Straight Up!

Quick Political Thoughts

Obama's Rx: Innovation

* President Obama’s speech was awesome last night. 

* I think the crowd stood up so much it almost looked like an aerobic class!

* I love how he inspires Americans to be our very best and to continue to push ourselves to the next level. 

* It was great to hear about banker Leonard Abess Jr. giving a phat $60 million to his current AND former employees.  What style.  This man will always be blessed!

  Leonard Abess just gave away $60 million to his employees after selling the bank to a Spanish bank. The bonuses came to tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars.  This is Leonard Abess, CEO in the lobby of the bank.

* Bobby Jindal is an idiot.  It’s clear that the GOP putting him out there as their spokesperson for their response is a reaction to the Obama effect.  It is consistent with Michael Steele being the first to head the GOP as well.  Back to Jindal, his speech was just hokey insincere and at times even insulting.  The republicans are still spinning from the election and still do not get it.  I wonder if they ever will.

Poems by Resonate’ “The Blues”

The Blues

backwater, downhome

black, soulful

honesty, storytelling

deep feeling

juke joints,  jive and unjive

free – exhaling

passionate, body moving

gushing over

dark – sad –  finding joy

getting by – release release release… but no relief

stories about life and love in the simplest forms

comforting for the moment

the blues

 Resonate’ © 2009