Whether you love them or hate them, the reality is that Tyler Perry’s Madea movies are here to stay. Despite the critical eviscerations and barrage of criticisms in regards to the franchise perpetuating negative stereotypes, the Madea series has accumulated over half a billion dollars at the box office in the 12 years since the character made her cinematic debut. The latest movie, Boo 2! A Madea Halloween has made back its production budget in the first week of release.
The franchise isn’t exactly prestigious cinema, but enough people love Perry’s sense of lowbrow humor to keep supporting him. And, to be honest, they’re pretty enjoyable and not really as bad as people say.
Still, with great success comes controversy, and Madea has courted a fair amount throughout the years. It’s been a mix of highs and lows, but Perry has continued to thrive despite all the people who would happily see him fail. He’s a self-made multi-millionaire who escaped poverty to conquer Hollywood, and this series helped make him an unlikely superstar.
It’s been a strange journey indeed, so are 15 Shocking Things You Never Knew About Tyler Perry’s Madea Movies.
15 THERE WAS A SOCIAL MEDIA CAMPAIGN TO BOYCOTT A MADEA CHRISTMAS
Prior to the release of the festive masterpiece A Madea Christmas, outraged social media users took to Twitter to voice their disapproval and orchestrate a boycott of the film. The general consensus was that Perry’s film was a crime against black cinema, and with great movies like 12 Years a Slave doing so well, a new Madea movie was considered by some as a step backward.
That said, like the rest of the series, A Madea Christmas was a box office success, proving that boycotts don’t work because people have their own mind’s and like what they like. No one is pretending the Madea movies are high art, but they do have an audience -- many of whom are African Americans. In an interview with The Wrap last year, Perry revealed that he struggles to get his movies shown in predominantly white neighborhoods.
The world of cinema is diverse and wonderful. If Adam Sandler and Denis Villeneuve are both successful, why can’t Tyler Perry co-exist alongside Steve McQueen?
14 OPRAH IS A HUGE MADEA FAN
Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry have been friends since 2001, so it’s unsurprising that she’s been one of his greatest supporters throughout the years. Perry has appeared on her talk show several times and has created some of her network’s most popular shows. But she’s also a fan of the pistol-packing grandma Perry portrays on screen with such grace and aplomb.
In an exclusive interview with Madea, she revealed how “big” a moment it was for her iconic show. Furthermore, Tyler Perry was also present, suggesting that he and Madea might be different people after all. It’s an insightful scoop and proves that Oprah is the best at what she does. We learn a lot about Madea here, and you’ll love her even more having learned more of her back story.
Of course, maybe Oprah just appreciates the high ratings Perry’s shows bring to her network...
13 BOO! A MADEA HALLOWEEN ONLY TOOK SIX DAYS TO FILM
Tyler Perry might not ever be held in the same high regard as the likes of Martin Scorsese when it comes to filmmaking. However, filming a movie as reasonably competent as Boo! in under a week is quite the achievement.
According to a Facebook post by actress Patrice Lovely, Perry made history by completing the shoot in six days. That’s one day less than your average Craig David relationship.
The history of Boo! is just flat out weird, though. The film started out as a joke from a Chris Rock movie, and now it’s on its way to becoming an annual holiday staple in real life. But then, Perry is a unique auteur who isn’t afraid to take risks. That’s why he continues to thrive.
12 MADEA GOES TO JAIL WAS ACCUSED OF NORMALIZING BLACK CRIME
One of the biggest criticisms of Perry’s oeuvre -- especially the Madea series -- is that he reinforces negative African American stereotypes. He also claims that his movies are inspired by his real-life experiences, suggesting that he believes his cross-dressing exploits and Eddie Murphy shtick have some sort of cultural significance rooted in reality. Madea Goes to Jail incurred criticism of this mindset, though.
In his thesis Madea Goes to Jail: Normalizing Hegemony and Stereotypes of Black Crime, Theodore Harrison III states that the film lacks “counter-hegemony” and ultimately “contributes to the normalizing of mass incarceration and stereotypes of Black Crime" as a result.
If you haven’t seen the movie, it involves Madea getting sent to jail to overcome her anger management problems and befriend a prostitute. It’s hardly the most tactful social commentary, but you can’t help but feel Perry’s heart is in the right place.
11 MADEA GETS A JOB WAS APPARENTLY A STOLEN IDEA
In 2014, Georgia-resident Lisa Daniels filed a lawsuit against Perry claiming that Madea Gets a Job was originally her idea. It wasn’t the first of Perry was accused of stealing ideas either, so if you blame the man for crimes against art then maybe you should start pointing fingers at the people whose work he apparently plagiarized.
According to a report published by Radar Online, Daniels said that she was “the sole creator of a literary piece Madea Gets a Job,” and that “[the] literary piece was featured in the form of a Tyler Perry play.”
Perry hit back at the accusations during The Rickey Smiley Morning Show and vented his frustrations towards the scandal. With fame and wealth comes vultures, however, so who knows if Daniels was sincere or simply wanted a piece of the pie.
10 PERRY HATES PLAYING THE CHARACTER
While the world loves the Madea character and, quite simply, can’t get enough of her (as box office stats prove), the man behind the makeup isn’t so fond of the role. Is it because of the negative backlash from academics? Not quite…
The truth is that roles like Madea require some serious method acting, which can sometimes take its toll on the performer. As he told Creative Loafing, “Being in Georgia in a fat suit, and wig and makeup, in the middle of summer? The physicality of it is no fun.”
So, why does he keep doing it? Well, it’s simple: for the betterment of humanity. In an interview with Hot Topics, he said: “I appreciate what it does for people more than anything. That’s what gets me back in costume.”
Let’s hope he keeps it up for years to come, because the laughter Madea brings makes this world a cheerier place.
9 MADEA WAS ORIGINALLY SUPPOSED TO PLAYED BY A WOMAN
Before he conquered Hollywood with the character, Perry was portraying Madea on stage. However, it all began as an accident due to the flakiness of the actress who was originally supposed to play her. She no-showed and this forced Perry to don a dress. The rest is, as they say, history.
At first, Perry worried that the audience would find it offensive, but they couldn’t get enough of the angry grandma. As he told The Tonight Show, “"The audience is chanting, 'We don't care. We don't care.' So that's how it all started."
That actress is probably at home kicking herself right now. She could have been a superstar if she stuck with Perry and his artistic vision. That said, it’s Perry’s ability to pull off teh character that’s made the her such a beloved pop culture sensation.
8 THREE “WORST ACTRESS” NOMINATIONS
As hard as it is to believe, some people don’t appreciate the Madea series or Perry’s ability as an actor. Regardless of their criticisms, however, he must be doing something right. You see, the masterminds at the Razzies believe he’s a woman; hence his three nominations for Worst Actress.
His first nomination came in 2013 for Madea’s Witness Protection, which was just flat-out undeserved. Next up, he won the award for his turn in A Madea Christmas the following year, which, again, was ridiculous -- he knocked it out of the park. Finally, he was nominated for Boo! A Madea Halloween, despite the joy he brought to millions.
Not to worry - Perry surely laughs all the way to the bank after every movie and Razzies can't take that away.
7 MADEA GOES TO JAIL SUED FOR PRAISING JESUS
Madea Goes to Jail is an appropriate title. If the accusations are to believed, Perry went on a robbing spree with this one. Following the film’s release, he was sued by the estate of gospel singer/songwriter Bertha James, who claimed Perry illegally used an entire verse from her song “When I Think of the Goodness of Jesus”.
As reported by TMZ based on court documents they obtained, the film “incorporated the entire chorus [of the song] in a monologue delivered by the main character in Madea referencing her deliverance from a jail sentence and leniency for repetitive criminal conduct.”
The Madea movies are known for their Christian values at heart. But apparently praising the religion’s most beloved figure can even land Perry on the naughty step.
6 ORLANDO JONES’ BACKFIRED PRANK
Pranks are funny, but not when they come at the expense of Tyler Perry and Madea. So when Orlando Jones released a fake press release with made up quotes from Perry, no one appreciated the joke.
"It is with mixed emotion that I announce that I will be unable to portray Madea in the next chapter in her journey," the statement read. "The character has been such a gift and it was my hope and intention to play this role again in the upcoming film. But due to my commitments to the exciting new venture I am launching with OWN and Discovery Communications, I must now put all my energy into our new slate of shows that will launch on the network later this year."
The statement continued: "In my opinion, Orlando is the perfect choice to take over this role. He is extraordinarily talented and will make one terrific Madea!”
Fans didn’t respond to the prank well, and neither did Perry, despite apparently giving his blessing beforehand.
5 HILARIOUS PARODIES
A character like Madea does invite people to make fun of her. Not only does her inherent silliness provide lots of material to work with, but her popularity has made her a pop culture phenomenon. When you reach that level popularity, others want in on the action.
Unsurprisingly, South Park, American Dad, Saturday Night Live, and The Boondocks have poked fun at the character and Perry in their own unique ways. That’s when you know you’ve made it, as in a weird way being ripped on by those shows is like a badge of honor.
4 AUDIENCES PREFER MADEA TO TOM HANKS AND TOM CRUISE
Tom Cruise and Tom Hanks are bona fide Hollywood superstars, but not even they have the box office prowess to stop Madea. This was found out the hard way last year when Boo! A Madea Halloween scared off stiff competition from Jack Reacher: Never Go Back and Inferno, respectively.
Madea doesn’t enjoy as much popularity overseas as it does in the United States, so overall you can consider Jack Reacher to be the overall winner. However, Inferno's performance was quite surprising given that previous Dan Brown adaptations starring Hanks, The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons, did good business.
Is Tyler Perry a bigger movie star than Tom Hanks and Tom Cruise? That’s a big debate for another time, but his box office numbers prove that he is a formidable force in his own right.
3 THERE’S A MADEA GPS VOICE
Are you the type of person who just can’t get enough Madea in your life? Sure, the movies are fine and whatnot, but what if you need your fix while embarking on a long journey? Well, fear not, as Madea has you covered.
Last year, Tyler Perry was one of a number of celebrities to lend his voice to the Waze, the popular traffic and navigation app. So if you want Madea barking out directions to help get you to your destination, you can totally make that happen… and you should.
Madea is always looking to help out those unfortunate souls in need. Therefore, an app that helps lost drivers get from A to B is yet another example of her positive contributions to our world.
2 THE BACK TO THE FUTURE WRITER DEFENDED TYLER PERRY IN COURT
Surprise! Surprise. It’s another case involving Tyler Perry and plagiarism. This time the movie in question is Diary of a Mad Black Woman, the film that introduced Hollywood to the Madea character.
In May 2007, Dallas playwright Donna West filed a lawsuit against Perry and Lionsgate, claiming that the Madea actor stole elements of her play, Fantasy of a Black Woman, to create his breakthrough film. So where does Back to the Future scribe Bob Gale fit in?
Gale was called in to act as a character witness for Perry. He also lent his expertise to explain the screenwriting process and how the scripts for West’s play and Perry’s film were different. Suffice to say, it was another case that didn’t amount to much, but it’s a trend that Perry’s experienced most of his career.
1 SPIKE LEE FINDS THEM OFFENSIVE
Spike Lee isn’t shy about speaking his mind, especially when it comes to topics he feels portray the black community in a negative manner. As such, Perry has incurred the acclaimed director’s wrath due to the perceived racial stereotypes showcased by the Madea character.
Lee went as far to criticize Perry for creating “coonery buffoonery” and called his movies “troubling.” Perry responded by saying that Lee can “go straight to hell.” Since then the feuding pair have made up and expressed their admiration for each other, but you can see why Lee wouldn’t approve of Madea, given his more serious approach to social commentary.
Lee has also suggested that he and Perry might work together someday. It’d be interesting to see a collaboration, as Perry has a tendency to impress in more drama-oriented roles overseen by talented directors.
Do you have an Madea trivia to share? Leave it in the comments!