Rasputia: A Comic Type, or a Racial Stereotype?

  • Playlist
  • Download
  • Embed
    <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Tyler Perry (left) and Eddie Murphy in their costumes.

Too Much? Tyler Perry (left) and Eddie Murphy in their costumes. Lionsgate/Dreamworks hide caption

toggle caption Lionsgate/Dreamworks

Two recent film portrayals of African-American women have drawn huge audiences: Tyler Perry's Madea character, which has spawned a franchise; and Eddie Murphy's Rasputia in Norbit.

Both characters are large and boisterous — and they have also sparked anger and outrage along with laughter and ticket sales.

To some, they are endearing comic exaggerations; to others, they're an insult.

One side of the debate over the plus-size heroines casts them as sisters of the bold and brassy women played by Monique and Queen Latifah. The other sees them as being closer to the "mammy" stereotype that once prevailed in American popular culture.

Also being considered is how the images affect real-live black women who are overweight.

Related NPR Stories



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

NPR thanks our sponsors

Become an NPR sponsor

Support comes from