Wednesday, March 15, 2017

How Fiction Makes Madea Relatable

     When I began reading this book, I was immediately reminded of Dress your Family in Corduroy and Denim. Both books use humor and past stories from the narrator’s perspective to entertain and, to a certain extent, inform the reader. But I quickly noticed that Madea is a very different author than Sedaris. While both tell stories about their family and friends, Madea’s memories are often less offensive, more exaggerated, and overall, more acceptable. And then it hit me… Madea isn’t real. Through Madea and her fictional voice, Perry is able to basically say whatever he wants in a very straightforward and ridiculous way, without anyone thinking twice. The distance added to the humor is what makes Perry’s book more relatable and less offensive than Sedaris’.
     Part of Madea’s ability to be honest and straightforward is due to her pre-existing popularity. Although this is my first time exploring the Madea franchise, I knew what to expect due to trailers for her movies and comments from other people who have been exposed to her. And through this book, I could hear her voice in my head and envision her in these ridiculous scenarios. The brand consistency in the Madea franchise helps make the humor more understandable and less offensive because that’s just what audiences expect from her.
     Perhaps readers are less offended by Madea because she is just so exaggerated. The audience quickly realizes to take everything she says with a grain of salt. Some of the things she says are so ridiculous, like her mother being “almost as big as Paul Bunyan and his blue ox” (11) and her role playing games with her husband. But in a way, this ridiculousness makes her advice stand out because it is so serious, and oftentimes, useful and true.
     The funny exaggerations support her helpful commentary and life views and her humor allows these tidbits to not be taken seriously if one decides not to agree. For example, on page 27 she tells a girl “Baby, having sex with a lot of people don’t make you feel loved – it makes you a ho. And I ain’t never met a man who said ‘I’m looking for a nice ho to settle down with.’ So shut it down”. This sounds a lot like the advice I received from my mother a long time ago. When coming from my mother, I was a bit offended she thought 13 year old me would ever sleep around but when coming from Madea, the advice directed at someone else and stated in a humorous manor makes me as the reader feel less blamed and more comfortable. However, if a person decides to disagree, and finds having sex with a lot of people makes them feel loved, the exaggerations and ridiculousness of Madea makes them feel less offended and the can just take her advice as another piece of fiction.
     The fictional exaggerated humor of Madea actually helps make her more relatable and authoritative. Through reading this book I received some interesting and useful advice while laughing the whole time.

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