Earlier this year, Tyler Perry, in what he said would be his final film featuring his highly-popular and hilarious alter ego, Madea, poked fun at the quirks, outbursts, rituals and often nonsensical situations that occur during the traditional Black family homegoing service. As he’s done in previous movies starring the gun-toting grandmother-figure Madea, in “A Madea Family Funeral,” he forced us to both laugh at ourselves and to use our “third eye” to deconstruct and reconsider those attitudes, beliefs that tend to shape and define our lives.
In one scene, as the mourners are leaving the church, they’re forced to scatter for safety after gunmen unload their weapons aimed at one or more of those descending the church stairs. That’s in the world of make-believe — or is it?
In October 2018, six were shot by unidentified men in a fast-moving car in Chicago while leaving a Baptist church on the Southside just after the funeral for a slain local rapper had ended. Witnesses would later say, “Bullets were flying everyplace.” The rapper, Dookski Tha Man, had been killed earlier that month in a drive-by shooting.
Last weekend in the District, the funeral for Southeast resident Eric Boyd, 34, the mood was celebratory in the storefront church that Boyd had attended. He’d been gunned down weeks before while savoring the enchanting nightlife found along the U Street corridor. Then, gunfire struck again — this time between one car of funeral-goers shooting at another just blocks away. The bullets would find their mark causing the death of a 24-year-old man. He’d been at the funeral for his friend.
The lines of fact and fiction seem to have blurred as scenes from a Tyler Perry movie can now be equally claimed to be episodes from our own lives. But there’s nothing here to make us laugh. Once upon a time, we could not have imagined gunfire and attempted murders to go on during a Black family funeral. Those kinds of things happened in the worlds of “others.” Tragically, it seems we have assimilated and taken up equally evil and criminal mentalities and habits.
Have we fallen so low as to disrespect the dead? It seems we have.