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Taking Off Our Earrings and Staying Out of Jail: Black Women and Madea on Tyler Perry’s Chitlin’ Circuit

Consumer Culture Theory

ISBN: 978-1-78560-323-5, eISBN: 978-1-78560-322-8

ISSN: 0885-2111

Publication date: 18 November 2015



This paper, an exploration into Black women cultural consumers of Tyler Perry Productions, examines the ways cultural consumption practices contribute to transformative ideologies and behaviors.


This regionally diverse ethnography using yo-yo fieldwork in Los Angeles, Atlanta, New York, and New Orleans, is based upon the author’s experiences over the course of five years engaging theater attendees and the casts and crew members of multiple Perry productions.


The author first discusses the dichotomous and provocative responses to Perry’s work by scholars, critics, and consumers of Tyler Perry Productions. After an ethnographically rich discussion of the setting surrounding a performance of the stage play Madea’s Big Happy Family, the author discusses how Black women report Perry’s work as a site of resistance to, and resources for responding to, microaggressions and other structures of oppression.


Building on the work of black feminist theory (Bobo, 2001, B. Smith, 1998) and black feminist theater aesthetic (Anderson, 2008), this paper, by crafting a Black Women’s Theatre Aesthetic that, for the first time, engages with and gives primacy to the consumers of theatrical productions, opens a portal for understanding the creative ways Black women call into play cultural consumption practices as tools and devices for transformative praxis.



Lotson, A.R. (2015), "Taking Off Our Earrings and Staying Out of Jail: Black Women and Madea on Tyler Perry’s Chitlin’ Circuit", Consumer Culture Theory (Research in Consumer Behavior, Vol. 17), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 401-421.



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