“TedTalk: Women Representation on Media”

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For the past years, Tyler Perry has been in the movie industry entertaining families with films depicting black families. He particularly covers the life of black women and the issues they face in society. Perry uses intersectional theory such as stereotyping, poverty, or classism to show the discriminatory practices among genders in the societies. There are critiques of his work ranging from disempowerment of women in his films to empowerment. Perry uses a black man to act as a strong black woman, and some people see this as a form of patriarchy. His stereotypical imagery and representations of characters in his films have brought various concerns about women in the media. Most African Americans argue that the Madea character is an offensive show of women rooted in old Blacks stereotypes.

Nikesha Elise Williams has a TedTalk on representation matters sets more light on mammy representation in the film industry. She recognizes that black women are still stereotyped in the film industry as mammies, welfare queens, and other misinterpretation. She argues that there is a need for Black women to get represented in the mass media and the right image. In our current era, more films are emerging with stereotyped images of African American life using a man in the role of a woman.

The audience judges and interprets a film based on the initial appearance of the characters. The character has the costume, make-up, and prop play as a guide to showing the creation of a specific mood. Films use cross-dressing for comic purposes like in the case of Madea. However, in some cases, the male protagonist finds it necessary to disguise himself as a woman but also ensure to show matriarchy behavior in his scenes (Hart, 2018). Perry, the director of Madea films, may have approached the gender identity issue as harmless and light-heartedly, but when the character “”exceeds”” with the role-playing, it becomes questionable. Often in movies with cross-dressing about sexual and gender confusion, the character shows a person in pain and uncertainty making the whole film look subjective on the personal journey of the character. The gender coding should focus on the physique and not take over the emotional charge of the character. Perry’s play fails to critique the stereotypical images of the African American culture and love and perpetuates a version of a black woman lacking love and ethics. As a director with most viewers as women, Perry should work for womanist social justice and claim a pro-womanist/ womanist voice.

In most films comedy and stereotypes go hand in hand. Madea is a known character depicted by Tyler Perry is his movies of an overgrown granny with anger-management issues. This character is a controversial and complicated figure to most people, especially those that feel the Madea images are very stereotypical and that Perry uses low-brow humor in gender-crossing characters to attract a big audience. Some of the black community members enjoy the cheery comedy while others are frustrated and feel that women should get involved in this character (Jumoke, 2016). The critics feel that Tyler Perry brought out a negative image of a black woman identity, one who is loud, bible-beating and gun-toting living in the southern. Madea shows the angry woman stereotype which is not a real image of the black woman. She is always an angry and bitter woman in all films. In the movie, “”I Can Do Bad All By Myself”” her brother Joe calls her a “”Bitter Old Woman.”” This comment is a stereotype of the African American woman but not a reality.

Films have a profound role in the lives of the audience and in various ways the films shape the people’s idea on the social, economic, political and cultural issue. In most Hollywood films, women have always been depicted to adhere to patriarchal structures, but recently some films are bringing the message of female empowerment and independence (Jones & Pringle, 2015). However, it is still evident that male dominance in the movie industry exists. Images, especially film images have a significant impact on the state of mind of the audience. Perry and other movie directors show contradicting gender representations in their films. Today, women should play their roles and not have cross-dressed men play their part. Film images are important in our lives because they transmit particular ideas on the societal issues in a very entertaining, indirect and subconscious manner. If a film shows social and gender inequality, even for the humor of it, people will pick lessons from that. Any female or male lead representation shows the intention of the film and therefore should have the right gender playing the character. Williams in her TedTalk she advocates for well-balanced storytelling in media where women tell their stories and vice versa. In her TedTalk, there are enough women in the industry. Therefore, they should represent themselves.

Perry presents gendered social issues of the Black families in his film but fails to use the womanist voice to help the society in getting rid of the negative social constructs that surround Blackness. Even when using Madea as a comic character, he does not use gendered cultural knowledge concerning women which makes his audience critique his work. The Black community is grounded in ethics of love, social justice, and salvation which women articulate but Perry only depicts the highlights of the Black families and religion. In the Black family, women use their voices as a privilege to show their standpoint in their social issues and end the constructs and oppressive discourses that limit black love (Jones & Pringle, 2015). They find humane and equitable solutions for society and not show unethical behavior. Siding with the audience critique, Madea did not depict the African American woman in the right way; they feel the characterization of black women is demeaning for larger audiences.

The issue of Perry representing black women in Madea’s image is affecting the Black community in the real world, but he uses humor to water their concerns down. Madea portrays an attitude in the films which is neither acceptable as a male or female but the reality it is a stereotype showcase. However, the “”funny”” character that the director shows drifts away from the truth from the audience. In the African American setting, women should be sentimental, sensitive and truly subservient, but Madea shows none of that thus pushing the audience from relating with the character as a normal woman. Madea sense of humor is subtle enough to ensure the audience do not lose their dramatic essence. For a viewer with an idea on the behavior of African American, the film shows Madea as a misrepresentation of the black woman. Some people overlook this because it is a comedy while the critiques view it as a bad showcase.

Films such as Madea should not manipulate women into stereotypes that distract the black liberation struggle from handling the economic inequalities that affect the black community. Moreover, the films should not devalue black women in society in the name of making funny characters. Most of the mammy’s representation films should have a representation of the black woman as a foundation of a well-function family, showing ethics and love to the family (Love, 2014). The stereotype that Madea portrays is of an angry black woman that is almost ineffective towards black children. Most of her comedic effect focus on her large body accompanied by violent behavior since she is a “”thug”” and the other characters mock her for lack of female behavior and sexuality.

Mass media has a major impact on the perceptions and beliefs of the African American Women; it affects the visual standards, values, and norms that the audience embrace. Films with men playing as women are steadily gaining traction in many companies. For years, the character represented a good and responsible woman to her family yet also capable of being insensitive and mean spirited towards the same family. These films affect the perceptions of how women view themselves and also how other people view them based on mammy’s character in the film. The stereotyping characters are earning power and influence from the potential audience have made the mammy’s film succeed in the movie industry ( Love, 2014). It is important to note that, the negative effects of stereotypical characters vary between racial groups. Perry reinscribes and exploits the social oppression and injustices that limit his viewer’s lives.


  1. Hart, M. (2018). Improved representation of female scientists in the media can show future generations of women that they belong. Impact of Social Sciences Blog.
  2. Jumoke, A. H. (2016). The Representation of African American Women in Hollywood Films (Master’s thesis, Eastern Mediterranean University (EMU)-Do?u Akdeniz Üniversitesi (DAÜ)).
  3. Williams, N.E. (2018, June 7). Representation Matters. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X7VYfwdwcs8
  4. Jones, D., & Pringle, J. K. (2015). Unmanageable inequalities: sexism in the film industry. The Sociological Review, 63, 37-49.
  5. Love, D. (2014). Mammy depictions in film: Effects on African American women’s perceptions, beliefs, and eating behaviors.

The benefits scholars receive by participating in research include gains in their ability to explain, present, discuss, and defend their work to advisors, other faculty, and their peers. Being a McNair scholar also strengthens the students’ sense of belonging as an academic professional and awareness of their ability to obtain greater academic achievement., 57.”

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"TedTalk: Women Representation on Media". (2021, Jul 08). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/tedtalk-women-representation-on-media/

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