"Are you getting angry Doctor?" : Madea, strategy and the fictional rejection of black female containment




Faust, Mitchell R.

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Within the scope of this thesis, I provide close textual and visual readings of director/actor/producer Tyler Perry's most well-known character, Mable "Madea" Simmons -- a performance he does in full female drag attire -- focusing on his mainstream hit film, Madea Goes to Jail (2009). My reading of the character of Madea veers against the common narrative her existence being just another recycled trope of men disguised as women only to perform in stereotypical and demonizing behavior. I argue Madea represents what I refer to as a "transfemale character", within the space of Perry's popular film that feature her. Read through the lens of being transfemale character, I propose this shift in analysis and critique of cinematic displays of drag helps to transgress beyond male/female binaries of acceptable and possible visual gender representations. More in-depth, using the theoretical concept of Gwendolyn Pough's "bringing wreck", I make the argument that while ostensibly representing the "angry black woman" stereotype, Madea's characterization and actions within the film represent strategies and efforts to not be contained within hegemonic ideals of black female respectability politics and the law efforts to put her behind bars. By "bringing wreck", Madea's fictional acts of violence and talking back are read as a strategy that reflects a historical trend of misrecognition that renders black women's concerns and discontent with marginalization as irrational anger.



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