In recent years, Filmmaker and Actor, Tyler Perry has entertained families with movies depicting black families and particularly black women and the issues that they face. Drawing from intersectional theory, issues such as poverty, classism, stereotypes, and abuse are examined for their ability to sustain discriminatory practices. Critiques of his work range from empowerment to disempowerment of women. Some reviewers find that the emphasis placed on issues impacting black women and the black community is realistic and empowering in that black women now have a voice and the depictions could be an impetus for positive change for black women (Cunningham, 2011). Others view Tyler Perry’s films as disempowering to black women in that they are often portrayed as needing a man and doomed to poverty and through his portrayal of the Madea character (supposedly strong black woman), patriarchy still prevails in his films (Carey, 2014; Harris & Tassie, 2012). Utilizing critical discourse analysis, this project interrogates the empowerment vs. disempowerment debate present in Black women’s praise and criticism of Tyler Perry movies. Implications for this research are inclusive of digital media literacy to interrogate consumption practices of not only minority viewers but mainstream viewers as well. The stereotypical representations and imagery present in Tyler Perry films has the ability to continue negative assumptions about women of color in particular.
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