It’s hard to describe the feeling of seeing Madea for the first time in Tyler Perry’s iconic play, I Can Do Bad All by Myself. There is a mixture of surprise, a mild reaction on the stereotype and simple amusement. Yes, many people think that the character of Madea is stereotypical being focused on as a “Mad Black” woman. If Tyler Perry was of a different ethnicity or nationality, he would have been called racist for portraying her that way.
Admittedly though, Madea is oddly entertaining despite the on-and-off approval of the audience. Sometimes, her “black” humour fell misunderstood and sometimes, it sparked roaring laughter. Her continuous cameo appearances and co-starring roles in both theatre and movies were focused to appeal to the greater audience.
Tyler Perry, personally acting as Madea, made true effort to bring uniqueness despite the stereotypical platform for which the character is based. That is why there is no doubt that Tyler Perry’s fans looked forward the release of I Can Do Bad All by Myself back in 2009. Especially that it marked the first appearance of a beloved comic character, it revolved around a very meaningful story as compared to most of Tyler’s raucous movies.
Unlike the boisterous and rather verbally brave scripts of the playwright, the movie version of I Can Do All Bad by Myself is relatively toned down. Understandably, it’s for the sake of viewer discretion and to appeal to a much wider variety of watchers. Personally, the Madea in the theatre is more authentic to me and less stereotypical. The big, angst-driven momma lost half of her temper in the movie, and by that I mean her spark.
Instead of bellowing up her signature rude phrases, she resorts to a more physical means of gaining audience surprise. For example, instead of raining down curses on the little homeless rascals who stole her VCR, she tried dragging them down to Hooker’s house for discipline and responsibility taken into action. In the play, you would be hearing curses you wouldn’t imagine being mentioned one after the other or in a same sentence. As odd as it seems, her curse formula is quite memorable and makes the movie’s portrayal of Madea a little less “angry”.
While her curses are greatly toned down, her gun-toting personally retains itself, which I am truly glad about. She also keeps her occasional bouts of gentleness but terribly tough life lessons, delivered of course in her very unique “accent” and pronounciatiern of words. Otherwise, this big, Church-going, 6 foot woman wouldn’t be anything else except a stereotypical “mad black woman”.
Honestly, who has ever seen an equally memorable African- American woman who smokes, drinks, is insensitive to children, still goes to church for worship and reads the gospel? If anything, her contrasting and ironic nature builds up her big features more than the entire physique and manly jaws of Tyler Perry. After all, personality is bigger than physicality. With Madea, on film or on theatre, the combination of both ensures an angry bombarding ahead of your way.