A troubling development in the media, which has a direct impact on popular culture which ultimately influences social policy, is the appropriation of the black female image by other groups (from white men, white women, and black men) for commercial gain. These groups have been empowered to represent African American women despite the fact that they are not African American women. Most recently, black male writer Tyler Perry has a created a black female character who has managed to capture the imagination of the public at-large, which led to a feature film called The Diary of a Mad Black Woman. With an exception of a few socially conscious brothers and sisters, this character has been embraced for her authenticity despite the fact that she is really Mr. Perry in drag. The irony is that Mr. Perry’s character is most popular among black females who see this character as genuinely representative of their pain.
SOF challenges the notion that it is appropriate for other groups to represent and speak for African American women. The title is not merely a reference to Mr. Perry’s film, though certainly the intention of it is to flip his script of the victimized or victimizing African American female to reveal the strong, independent socially conscious sister whose pen is mightier than a chainsaw! The title is an allusion to the feminist novel (which eventually became a film) Diary of a Mad Housewife by Susan Kaufman, which chronicles the struggle of a subservient woman for independence and freedom. Adult women who remain in a state of childlike dependency eventually go mad. However, the use of the word mad in DMBF alludes to the idea that African American women are angry that their voice and image have been appropriated, and distorted in the process, by others for commercial gain. Being mad or revengeful, as represented in Mr. Perry’s film, is the most rudimentary reaction to victimization. SOF, on the other hand, is about taking mad or anger to the next level, for all revolution first begins with individual discontent, but gains its power from the mass acknowledgment of discontent that eventually leads to revolution.
Martin Lawrence, Eddie Murphy, and Tyler Perry (among others) have all dressed to unimpress as Shenanay, Big Mama, Rasputia and Madea. They have made millions of dollars as a result while African American women struggle to find roles in Hollywood. SOF asks, so why can't a real sista get paid?
Are you entertained or offended by the number of African American men dressing as women for commercial gain?