Actor and filmmaker Tyler Perry has defended his beloved "Madea" character over criticism that it taps into demeaning black stereotypes.
In 2009, fellow director Spike Lee alleged that Perry's character Madea, which has appeared in more than ten films, represents "coonery buffoonery." Perry has defended the origins of the character, insisting that "Madea" is inspired by and honors black people he grew up around as a child. Perry previously responded to Lee's accusations by telling him to "go to hell."
"There’s a certain part of our soAddressesciety, especially Black people in the culture that…they look down on certain things within the culture," Perry said. "For me, I love the movies that I’ve done because they are the people that I grew up with that I represent and they, like, my mother would take me in the projects with her on the weekends, she played cards with these women."
"So when someone says, you’re harkening back to a point in our life that we don’t want to talk about or we don’t want the world to see—you’re dismissing the stories of millions and millions of Black people and that’s why I think it’s been so successful because it resonates with a lot of us who know these women," Perry added.
"What is important to me is that I’m honoring the people that came up and taught and made me who I am. Their stories deserve to be told too," he concluded.
Perry also noted that during the Harlem Renaissance, black artists and writers, such as Zora Neale Hurston, were criticized for their portrayal of southern black dialects.
Last week, Perry's latest film, "A Jazzman's Blues," was released on Netflix, featuring stars Joshua Boone, Amirah Vann, and Solea Pfeiffer.