Interpreting Tyler Perry
Perspectives on Race, Class, Gender, and Sexuality
Edited by Jamel Santa Cruze Bell, Ronald L. Jackson II
Routledge – 2014 – 328 pages
Tyler Perry has become a significant figure in media due to his undeniable box office success led by his character Madea and popular TV sitcoms House of Payne and Meet the Browns. Perry built a multimedia empire based largely on his popularity among African American viewers and has become a prominent and dominant cultural storyteller. Along with Perry’s success has come scrutiny by some social critics and Hollywood well-knowns, like Spike Lee, who have started to deconstruct the images in Perry’s films and TV shows suggesting, as Lee did, that Perry has used his power to advance stereotypical depictions of African Americans.
The book provides a rich and thorough overview of Tyler Perry’s media works. In so doing, contributors represent and approach their analyses of Perry’s work from a variety of theoretical and methodological angles. The main themes explored in the volume include the representation of (a) Black authenticity and cultural production, (b) class, religion, and spirituality, (c) gender and sexuality, and (d) Black love, romance, and family. Perry’s critical acclaim is also explored.
1. Introduction Jamel Santa Cruze Bell and Ronald L. Jackson II Part 1: Representing Black Authenticity and Cultural Production 2. Bootlegging Tyler Perry/Tyler Perry as Bootlegger: A Critical Meditation on Madea's Family Reunion Bryant Keith Alexander 3. Tyler Perry and the Mantan Manifesto: Critical Race Theory and the Permanence of Cinematic Anti-Blackness Baruti N. Kopano and Jared A. Ball 4. If the Fat-Suit Fits: Fat-Suit Minstrelsy in Black Comedy Films Iliana De Larkin 5. Cool Drag: Black Masculinity in Big Mama Disguise Stephane Dunn 6. Perry vs. Cosby, A New Perspective: Examining the Influence of Black Media on Black Group Consciousness Nicole E. Jackson 7. Tyler Perry and the Cultural Industries: New Model of Cultural Production or a Re-Versioning of the Old Murali Balaji Part 2: Representing Class, Religion and Spirituality 8. Life in Black and White: Cautionary Tales of Internalizing Cultural Norms of Race, Class, and Gender in The Family that Preys Cerise L. Glenn and Dante Johnson 9. Adapting Tyler Perry: Madea Goes to Jail Deborah E. Barker 10. Why Did I Get Married – to Her? Women’s Place in Middle-Class Marriage Nicole Files-Thompson 11. "Let The Church Say, ‘Amen!’": Tyler Perry’s Treatment of the African American Church and Pastor in I Can Do Bad By Myself Shauntae Brown White 12. The Future of the Past: Religion and Womanhood in the Films of Tyler Perry, Eloyce Gist, and Spencer Williams, Jr. Robin R. Means Coleman and Timeka N. Williams Part 3: Representing Gender and Sexuality 13. Black Feminist Reflections on the Power and Politics of Representation in Tyler Perry’s For Colored Girls Rachel A. Griffin 14. The African American Woman on Film: The Tyler Perry Image Bishetta Merritt and Melbourne C. Cummings 15. Black Women, Thou Art Produced!: A Womanist Critique of Tyler Perry’s Gosperella Productions Toniesha L. Taylor 16. Prolific Stereotypes of Black Men and Images of Black Masculinity in Tyler Perry's Diary of a Mad Black Woman Patrice N. Harris 17. (Mis)Representations of Black Sexuality: Madea vs. MaDukes Amber L. Johnson 18. Getting it "Right?": African American Women Reading Tyler Perry’s Films Kennaria Brown, Shannon Baldon, and Amber Stanton Part 4: Representing Black Love, Romance and Family 19. Passing as a Woman(ist)?: A Look at Black Women’s Narratives in Tyler Perry’s Films Marcia Alesan Dawkins and Ulli K. Ryder 20. Representin’ the Ladies: A Negotiated Response to Tyler Perry’s Portrayals of African American Female Characters Rockell Brown and Kimberly D. Campbell 21. Remodeling the Black Family in Tyler Perry’s I Can Do Bad All By Myself Riche Richardson 22. Archetypes of Regression: Depictions and Reflections of Black and Familial Culture in Tyler Perry’s Family Reunion Tina M. Harris and Emily Porter
Jamel Santa Cruze Bell is Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication at Saint Louis University, USA.
Ronald L. Jackson II is Professor of Communication and Dean of the McMicken College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Cincinnati, USA