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Re-Imagining Black WomenA Critique of Post-Feminist and Post-Racial Melodrama in Culture and Politics$
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Nikol G. Alexander-Floyd

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9781479855858

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: January 2022

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479855858.001.0001

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Diary of a Mad Black (Wo)Man

Diary of a Mad Black (Wo)Man

Tyler Perry, Wounded Masculinity, and Post-Feminist, Post-Racial Melodrama

Chapter:
(p.102) 3 Diary of a Mad Black (Wo)Man
Source:
Re-Imagining Black Women
Author(s):

Nikol G. Alexander-Floyd

Publisher:
NYU Press
DOI:10.18574/nyu/9781479855858.003.0004

Chapter 3 examines Tyler Perry’s classic Madea character in his breakout movie Diary of a Mad Black Woman. A dominant figure in black Hollywood, Perry’s success depends on the melodramatic story lines he constructs promoting heterosexual coupledom as the optimal state for black female self-actualization. Not only does Perry present marriage as an ideal state, he figures narratives of return and self-governance as solutions for black social ills. In this way his movie fits neatly into the neoliberal emphasis on micro-level scales of assessment and action, often found in post-feminist movies and images. Moreover, the chapter draws on psychoanalytic concepts, such as Freud’s ideas of condensation and displacement in dreams, as well as multivocality, and applies them to Diary. It demonstrates how Perry’s racialized cross-dressing via Madea parallels blackface minstrelsy and, moreover, is tied to his own ambivalent connection to his mother, serving as a mechanism for him to symbolically eliminate black women, and occupy the plenitude and authority associated with the mammy/matriarch. Finally, the chapter suggests various levels of connection through which black audiences identify with Perry’s Madea figure and the fantasies relayed in his signature, paradigmatic movie.

Keywords:   Tyler Perry, Madea, Diary of a Mad Black Woman, self-governance, marriage, Sigmund Freud, mammy, matriarch, self-governance, blackface minstrelsy

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