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It’s difficult not to feel uneasy after watching Tyler Perry’s “Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor.” There are so many things about the movie, especially the ending that don’t sit well.
The movie is centered on the choices and consequences of Judith (Jurnee Smollett-Bell), who has an affair. Judith is clearly unhappy with some of the elements of her marriage so when she’s assigned to help a successful, attractive social media mogul find a date, she strays shockingly far from her Christian background and further from her husband.
Perry’s films almost always rotate around characters with strong Christian beliefs. Judith’s religious background played a role in many of her good and not so good decisions as she is impressed by the first hint of excitement and rebellion in a life normally shielded from sin.
Another theme in Perry’s movies (not so obvious to all viewers) is the victimization of women. Movies like “Diary of a Mad Black Woman,” “Madea’s Family Reunion,” “For Colored Girls” and this one all portray a woman suffering some form of abuse whether it be narcotic, domestic or sexual. Such issues should be brought to light; however, Perry’s delivery is weak and can be counterproductive.
The ending of the movie makes it seem as if Judith got her just deserts, for cheating on her husband, an ending unfit for a male character. A female role is reprimanded for stepping outside of her wifely duties and must suffer for going outside of gender expectations.
A particularly disturbing scene disguises rape as consensual sex, further perpetuating the false idea that when women say “No” they mean “Yes.” This is very damaging and dangerous to our to victim blaming practices already present in our culture. Perry’s woman bashing doesn’t stop there. Part of Judith’s attraction to her “other man” was his success and wealth. The comparison can be seen in the kind of truck her husband drives and the kind of sports car her lover has. Consequently, one of her major motives becomes “gold digging.”
Two women in the movie have HIV and after seem innately sad and lonely because of it. “Temptation” operates under the assumption that HIV only happens to people who do bad things. Characters with HIV are not used to spread awareness because if they were there would be more emphasis on using protection.
Perry may think that he’s doing the right thing by adding religious elements to his movies but he’s doing it wrong way. He’s sending negative messages to an already damaged culture in the African American community. The overall message in the movie is clear, it’s not right to cheat on a spouse. However, some of the subliminal messages could be taken the wrong way to any audience member who isn’t educated on victim-blaming or sensitive to sexism.
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