Now Playing: Diary of a Mad Black Woman
Topic: Movie Reviews
To get a better understanding of this post click: What is BOUGIE?
Today I saw Diary of a Mad Black Woman on DVD. It is based on one of Tyler Perry's highly popular "chitlin' circuit/gospel" play featuring his most infamous/famous character, Madea (played by Mr. Perry himself). In New York City, all of these so-called "gospel plays" are shown at the Beacon Theater. It is almost a joke among Black New Yorkers, because the plays/musicals follow a very traditional pattern. It usually stars a former B-list R&B singer (like Christopher Williams or Me'lissa Morgan) or B-list Black TV star (like Malik Yoba). A woman is usually extremely wronged by a black man. And said black woman usually learns a lesson from the wisdom of her female peers and this lesson has a big walloping dose of God and Jesus in it. Most times, the men are also redeemed. And they always most certainly will play at the Beacon Theater.
It is also a joke, most secretly and sometimes not so secretly, because Black folk associate those who see these plays as "ghetto" or too poor/ignorant to see something more highbrow (so-to-speak). Half my heart believed this although I saw the last of the Mama I Want to Sing trilogy nearly ten years ago. (Oddly enough it wasn't at the Beacon Theater but an off Broadway theater in the Village.) Somewhere, somehow, or something convinced me that I was beyond "Chitlin Circuit" plays, musicals or movies (i.e. Soul Plane). Maybe it's because I never flocked to them to begin with or maybe I started to believe that once a Black man or woman reached a certain educational or financial status, he or she became less ghetto, more white, and thus Bougie and was or should above these things.
I can't go in "da hood" now where I grew up , and expect to somehow be down with folk. I'm a woman with a graduate degree and a seemingly middle class existence that clashes with where I grew up. I often have conflicts within myself on definitions of what it means to be Black or Bougie. I also have conflicts about whether or not growing up in the ghetto makes me ghetto. I don't fit into any pre-determined category. I fit into many yet I don't fit into any. This, on occasion, bothers me.(More posts on this later, I suspect.) No one wants to be the oddball.
And speaking of oddballs, lets get back to Diary of a Mad Black Woman...It is not your typical middle-class Black movie genre (see movies like The Brothers, The Wood, The Best Man, Love Jones...) of the past ten years that are geared toward Black people who don't see themselves in the gangster, inner-city, tough reality films like Menace to Society or Boyz In DA Hood. These "hood" Black flicks and "bougie" Black flicks have a tendency to be extremes of how Black people either see themselves or wish to see themselves (Love and Basketball may be the exception). Diary...somehow brings both elements together into a cohesive and entertaining film without beating one over the head with its "I'm so Street" or "I'm so Middle Class" pathos. It also retains all of the characteristics and charm associated with the Gospel plays, but it is done so with a light hand.
My favorite part of this movie is its blatant Christian and/orMoral (by Webster's Definition) moral message about Forgiveness. It is wonderful that this message is delivered in such a non-Pollyanna fashion. It also is delivered without being a conservative, boring, dull or condemning flick. It serves the medicine with a bit of sugar. I think Diary is a movie that can appeal to nearly all Blacks despite their actual or perceived socio-economic-cultural levels, and appeal to Christians or God-believers who don't consider themselves Holy Rollers.
With all that said, you still probably won't find me up in the Beacon Theater anytime soon. :-)
Posted by Kiki Shoes at 4:12 AM EDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: August 8, 2005 4:16 AM EDT
Updated: August 8, 2005 4:16 AM EDT