Anyone willing to acknowledge an opinion not their own would agree that Tyler Perry has been a polarizing figure since he broke into the broader public sphere with his Madea series. More prolific than Jim Varney’s Ernest character, Perry’s down-home granny won over a large enough audience to afford him his own creative empire, a feat even the most critically acclaimed black filmmakers have not achieved. With Perry’s expansion have come several movies and television shows of continued divisiveness, particularly among black Americans. On the more troubling (read: socially conservative) end of the spectrum is his recent film Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor, a morality play that all but confirmed the misogynist undercurrent of his oeuvre that many people suspected long before the film’s release in 2013.
But despite claims that Tyler Perry hates women, he makes a strong case for having the wherewithal to tell stories that claim to give them otherwise unheard voices. Being raised by an abusive father, Perry took refuge in the church under the guidance of his mother, an upbringing that would certainly equip Perry to apply his creative sensibilities to women’s stories of struggle like Diary of a Mad Black Woman, I Can Do Bad All By Myself, and the adaptation of Ntozake Shange’s For Colored Girls.
And starting March 14, Perry will tell yet another tale of unappreciated women with his new movie, The Single Moms Club. In the film, 5 women of varying backgrounds are put in charge of a school fundraiser as recompense for damages to the school caused by their ungrateful children. What ensues is an unlikely alliance during which the women help each other navigate their personal challenges with apparently the most important thing to single mothers: finding a good man.
Presuppositions and biases aside, the comfort with which Perry asserts his ability to write, direct, and produce women’s stories reintroduces the question of whether he–or anyone else, for that matter–would have a right to do so for a group to which he does not belong, especially as an outsider who assumes a socially superior role within the culture.
So I ask the women who read Marz Daily Media: What do you think about The Single Moms Club? What does it mean that a man with the ability to produce such a film would not enlist women to write it? Does it matter? Will this movie reinforce suspicions of Perry’s veiled misogyny or debunk it completely?
Have a look at the trailer for more, but I’m seriously curious about what you think.