Wednesday, March 10, 2010

food for thought

While I was reading Madea's Uninhibited Commentaries on Love and Life, I was reminded, out of all things, of a cookbook that my mom had brought home less than a year ago, called Bubby's Homemade Pies. What makes this cookbook interesting though, besides the many mouth-watering recipes tucked away inside, are the various anecdotal essays that the author slips in between them. Each one recounts a particular time in the author's childhood, painting scenes of her growing up in a large southern family, and gradually learning how to cook. Most of the recipes also have a story behind their origin that are often funny and memorable.

When my mom bought the pie recipe book, she had picked it with the intention that my brothers and I would increase the production of pies in our home. We did make one or two the first few weeks we owned the book (despite our questionable cooking skills, they were pretty good). Pie production stopped soon, though, and the book joined the ranks of the many other cookbooks, originally bought with good intentions, collecting dust on our counter. However, the stories that interspersed the pages of the book had caught my eye during our hours of baking, and I soon pulled it off the counter just to sit and read them.

What made the stories so engaging for me, I think, were that, besides being funny, they were written in a way that made me feel as if the author were right in the room, telling these stories about her childhood. Like Bubby, Tyler Perry's character, Madea, also speaks directly to the reader. When you read the book, you get the sense that Madea could be just another member of your family, whether an aunt, grandmother, etc., who's giving you advice on life through a recounting of her own experiences. I think this is what makes the book relatable to so many people, and makes it so easy to apply her advice to your own life.

The humor that Tyler Perry inserts into Madea also helps to accomplish this. Madea's humor comes from her no-holds barred mentality and her ability to tell it like it is. This allows for a sense of release, like the cathartic model of humor that we mentioned in class, and makes it easier to talk about the controversial subjects Madea touches upon. I think that, overall, it's Madea's humor and her ability to tell the truth, with the best intentions, that make characters like her so relatable and memorable.

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