There’s something that happens when a person creates a character that they become well-known for, especially when that character shows up in a lot of their work. People fall in love with the character. They relate to the character for whatever reason. They want to see as much of the character as possible, even when it makes no cock-a-doodie sense for the character to be there.
Then there are the people who hate the character. They think the character is overused. They want to see the character sent off or ended in a way that will satisfy their need for permanent riddance.
Somewhere in between those two extremes lies the Tyler Perry character Madea—a character he created nearly 20 years ago for one of his first stage plays. Since her inception in the year 2000, Madea has appeared in 11 of Perry’s 20 stage plays, 2 of his 8 television shows, and 12 of his 31 feature films.
The character is played by Perry himself. He dons a wig, puts on a dress and big glasses, and gives you his best gat-totin’, pistol-holdin’ granny on your damn street so to speak.
He has often been criticized for the character, who many feel is a negative caricature of black women. Spike Lee famously called him out for what the veteran filmmaker described as “coonery buffoonery.” People have said him dressing up as a woman takes away a role a qualified black actress could play.
Say what you want about Madea, but she has been the mainstay of Perry’s stable—a character that we see again, and again, and again ... and ... again.
That will all be coming to an end soon. During an interview with Bevy Smith on SiriusXM, Perry announced that he plans to retire the character in 2019.
“It’s time for me to kill that old bitch,” he said. “I’m tired, man. I’m tired.”
Perry said he didn’t want to go from the two Madea Halloween movies directly into her retirement, so he timed it just right.
“I just don’t want to be her age playing her,” Perry said.
Perry told Smith that he is going to do a farewell stage tour with the character, and Madea will make her final appearance in A Madea Family Funeral—a film that was shot two years ago and is still on hold pending release.
I, for one, am not sad about this news. Madea has run her course. There are so many other things Perry fan do creatively besides
continuing his agenda of making black women look bad in all his films putting on a dress and playing a one-dimensional character of very little substance.
Just what that will be remains to be seen.