The film Diary of a Mad Black Woman depicts a situation that many people find themselves in every day. Helen McCarter is a successful wife who has everything it seems she could possibly ever want- a fantastically beautiful home and a well-off husband.
Her husband literally throws her out of the house when he admits to having an affair so that his mistress and her children can move in. She relies on her family, close friends, and God to help her through the ordeal. When Helen’s husband is ironically maimed in a car accident, she cruelly torments him, the way that he abusively tormented her throughout their marriage.
In one scene, Helen torments her husband because he can not bathe himself, and then literally throws him into a bathtub, rescuing him only seconds before he would have drowned. The film Diary of a Mad Black Woman depicts a fair amount of spousal abuse. In one of the opening scenes of the film, the husband (Charles) throws his wife out of the car and tells her that he hates her. Not only is this an extreme example of physical abuse, it is also an excellent example of the lesser known, and therefore lesser addressed, verbal and emotional abuse.
However, Helen is for some reason completely blindsided by this turn of events, although it seems as if she has been enduring this abuse for the past eighteen years of their marriage. It certainly seems as though her sense of self worth has reached such a low that she could not even see how her husband leaving her was a possibility. I felt that there were many mixed messages showcased throughout this film. That is not to say it was not a good movie-I believe that it was. Diary of a Mad Black Woman took on a ridiculously Christian, preachy tone.
When Helen begins dating a new man, she claims that he’s a “good Christian man,” as if this were a deal breaker. Helen apparently finds Jesus, become a devout Christian, and attends church religiously. Once her husband is injured in a gun fight, not only does she refuse to turn the other cheek, the audience is left to feel as if they should be cheering on her decidedly unchristian values. Helen takes advantage of her husband, which seems to be the farthest thing a true Christian would do. I think that there certainly was a lesson and a moral to this film, although I’m not sure that it came across in the correct way.
The director was obviously trying to show that regardless of one’s past, it is possible to overcome horrific tragedy. Was this done about in the correct way? I believe not. I feel as if the writer and director of this film used “Christian values” as a crutch in order to get away with both a mediocre storyline and directing. Obviously, this was not an accurate portrayal of this specific type of phenomenon. It would take much more than “the power of Jesus” to restore one’s psyche after eighteen years worth of abuse.
In addition, the fact that any behavior is alright, as long as it’s done in the name of Jesus, is completely disgusting, but this is how the film seems to justify Helen’s quick recovery. But, there certainly is something to be said for such strong message. Although the heroine’s plight was filmed as if she were extremely naïve in the first place, ultimately, the audience is left to assume that Helen has overcome the abuse she was dealing with. This film was, in my opinion, a good example of something that could happen in anyone’s life. It reminds me of a woman that used to attend our church with her family.
The relationship she had with her husband was obviously strange, but no one could quite decide what was wrong with it. The husband was the associate pastor, and the wife volunteered in the church nursery almost every Sunday. Therefore, it seemed as if this couple could do no harm.
Suddenly, one day she left her husband, and took her kids with her. People within the church immediately began blaming her for the abuse, claiming that she obviously did something wrong, and that she hadn’t “submitted to her husband” as the Bible demands. Later, people said that the only way she could be healed was through Jesus.
Of course, this is ridiculous. Not to take anything away from religion, but most would agree that overcoming abuse requires therapy in different forms, and this is assuming that no other psychological disorders have stemmed from the abuse, such as depression, anxiety disorders, of post-traumatic stress disorder.
Ultimately, I feel that this was a very strong movie, and that it depicted what abuse and its effects have on a person. While it was grossly understated, the audience certainly had a very good idea of what an abused person, especially an abused wife goes through during a recovery process.
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