Popeyes Chicken should be ashamed of itself for the degrading and tired minstrel show put on by the “Chicken Mammy.” Ms. Annie as she’s called takes us back about a century on her chicken coonery antics. Believe it or not, the African-American community is divided on whether the commercial is racist or not. In some quarters of the community, the feeling is hey, “she’s making money and laughing all the way to the bank.” This writer is painfully aware, that some people will sell their soul for a dollar; no matter what the consequences are.
Should companies be held to a higher level of “social responsibility?” Where do we draw the line between funny and insulting? The Chicken Mammy’s antics hearkens back to a time most African-Americans would like to forget. The deplorable minstrel show era is one that is painful and dredges up the oppressive era of “Jim Crow” and brutal segregation that was mandated by law.
If you’re white, you probably are wondering who is Tyler Perry? If you’re black, you’re probably wondering why am I asking, and the answer is yes, I know who he is. This will set the tone for this article. Tyler Perry has become a household name in the African-American community in general, and the church-going African-American community in particular. If you’re wondering what does this article have to do with politics – everything! When you’re dealing with a medium (Tyler Perry’s Madea franchise) you’re dealing with; social issues, class,race and politics.
Tyler Perry’s Madea franchise has made him one of the highest paid movie directors in Hollywood (ranked by Forbes as the sixth highest-paid man in Hollywood). However, it’s come at a cost. There are some in the black community, including Spike Lee, who see his work as “coonery” and “buffoonery,” Something of a modern day minstrel show. There is a reoccurring theme in Tyler Perry’s work. It’s message targets the African-American community, has strong ties to the African-American church and family. Tyler Perry has hired blacks in his office, in front of the camera and behind the camera. While he is enjoying enormous commercial success; he has his critics, who feel that this depiction of black pathology only serves to fuel negative imagery and stereotypes of black life.