It is no secret that women are vilified in most cultures, and America is at the forefront of such abuse. African-American women are attacked for being angry, argumentative, man-hating, controlling, gold-digging, unsure, immature, insecure, lying scourges. They are bitter at black men from bad relationships, faulty behavior, and a dwindling supply of “good black men.” At least that is the impression I got bludgeoned with repeatedly when watching the film Diary of a Tired Black Man.
Written, directed, executive produced, edited, scored, casted and makeup applied by Tim Alexander (I left out a few other things), Diary of a Tired Black Man is a part-documentary, part “comedy” (in quotes, obviously) about the relationship dynamics between black men and women. The documentary parts are man-on-the-street interviews with people offering their armchair analysis of why black women be angry and triflin’, mixed with (who I assume to be) Alexander preaching at audiences of men and (mostly) women to recognize good black men, stop creating drama, get back to Jesus and make a good home.
The “comedy,” starring a Taye Diggs/Tyrese clone, is a set of amateurish clips of varying anger-inducing levels: women complaining about black men; black men complaining about black women; men trying to get a devoted man to cheat; a woman belittling her man in front of their child; the only answer to not dating triflin’ women is to go outside of their race; and other delights. Broad stereotypes of screeching women are formed by a woeful script and acting, set against sub-Tyler Perry backdrops and still, poorly framed camera shots. Apparently anger = funny in this bizarro world.
The Windows Movie Maker production is the least offensive aspect of this so-called movie. The interviews, including several clips with a so-called medical professional, set out to diagnose these problematic black women as having “angry black woman syndrome.” (Alexander goads the doctor into agreeing with this phrase on camera.) Question after question and answer after answer paint the portrait of a black woman as a feral female about to lose her shit at the drop of a hat. Many of the participants blame the lack of a two-parent household among many reasons for creating hellions out of the kids. A good deal of the replies find fault in women’s poor relationships (with their fathers, with men) in unleashing baggage in their dealings with black men. There is the confusion of a “strong black woman” as a raging hellbeast. everyone is reduced to their base parts: race; wealth; attitude; and how they fit the stereotype of a black person. And any potential lessons to be learned (people can be decent, no matter what their race) are mired in tired dreck.
The worst thing about Diary of a Tired Black Man is that it promotes the stereotypes it attempts to understand. What I wanted to see from this movie is a honest, intellectual discussion of why this perception exists in society and how that stereotype could be eradicated. Instead, I got a 106-minute sermon of WIMMEN BE CRAY-ZAY with tiny pinholes of diagnosis into the issue. While some insights are poignant (acknowledging that not everyone falls under the same category of a yelling, troublesome asshole counts as poignant in this movie), they are few and far between–as if there was a quota of common sense to meet for funding. I can understand how their conclusions come from their personal experiences, but to believe that every single person has the same experiences and outlook is asinine. And the scripted content is stilted and as intellectually dishonest.
I expect offensive stereotypes and conservative views on relationships and family from Tyler Perry movies; I don’t need it from a bogus excuse of a movie trying to be the answer to questions they don’t fully understand. And as the film came to a close (SPOILERS: Taye Diggs/Tyrese clone ends up with a black woman!), the Gallagher-hammering symbolism of the end of journey being with a non-insane black woman adds a phlegm-like film to this stillborn movie.
It’s troubling that many will see the limited viewpoints of the film’s fictional and documentary elements involved in this production (released in 2008) as gospel, as 2013 is not very different in American culture. The ending disclaimer of the movie being inspired by actual events in “day to day” life is a sad reminder that women continue to fight the perception that they are the weaker, more misunderstood sex, especially when filmmakers attempt to shine a light on it.