Director Tim Alexander Defends Film Which Takes Aim at Angry Sisters
CLICK HERE to see a clip of the upcoming U.S.-release film
Rarely does a film generate a lot of controversy even before it’s been made. But that’s exactly what we have with Diary of a Tired Black Man, a movie ostensibly designed as an answer to such brother-bashing, revenge comedies as Diary of a Mad Black Woman, Two Can Play That Game and Waiting to Exhale.
What has spurred interest in the upcoming flick is a snippet available on the Internet at www.tiredblackman.com in which Jimmy Jean-Louis (who just starred as the African infatuated with Mo’nique in Phat Girlz) shows up with his white girlfriend to take custody of his daughter for the weekend. Although his ex-wife (Paula Lema) and her girlfriends (Shavsha Isreal and Natasha Dixon) proceed to rake him over the coals, the self-proclaimed “tired black man” manages to get the better of his adversaries during the heated exchange.
With the movie already enjoying so much buzz, I figured why wait for the release to talk to Tim Alexander, the writer and director about to make his feature film debut with the upcoming picture everybody’s been emailing, text messaging, chatrooming, instant messaging and clogging talk show phone lines about.
KW: Tell me a little about yourself. Where were you born?
TA: I was born in Harlem, but I’ve been in L.A. since I was four.
KW: And what did you do before you decided to make Diary of a Tired Black Man?
TA: I dropped out of high school, became a locksmith. From there, I just kind of fell into fashion photography. I’ve been doing that as well as retouching, layout, and design. I’ve got a website company. And I did a few music videos.
KW: Who did you make music videos for?
TA: Howard Hewett would be the biggest star. Recently, I decided to help up-and-coming actors by making short vignettes that they could use to showcase their acting talent. So, I created a company called Screen Time Productions. Diary of a Tired Black Man was the first clip I shot. It was only supposed to be the three-minute clip to help the actors. But I put it on the Internet, did a Google the next day and I was shocked. It was all over the Internet. On one forum somebody created, there were 550 posts, 22 pages long, in only 24 hours. I said, “Oh my God!”
KW: How much help did you have in making the video clip that’s caused all the hubbub?
TA: I made it entirely by myself. I wrote, produced, directed, shot it, did the lighting, the sound and the editing. There was nobody on the set but me and the actors. I shot the whole thing in five hours, from set-up to tear-down.
KW: Unbelievable! And you built the website promoting it, too?
KW: So, do you have enough money behind you to complete the project?
TA: I kinda have it and I’m in negotiations now, but I’m still open and weighing my options.
KW: So, what inspired you to make Diary of a Tired Black Man?
TA: I was dating a black woman who constantly wanted to go toe-to-toe with me. She was a good bit younger than I was, and even when she didn’t have any ground to stand on, she would still continue to argue with me. And then, one day, she reared back and said, “You need to get yourself a white girl. You can’t deal with a strong black woman.” So, I just said to myself, “You know what? I shouldn’t even deal with her anymore. I’m out of here.”
KW: What’s you’re dating history? Have you ever been married? Do you have kids?
TA: I’ve been engaged six times, but I’ve never been married, no kids. I find that when black women have issues with men, they bring their anger issues into a relationship.
KW: But don’t you think that many have been victimized by brothers with a player mentality? There are an awful lot of sisters who have been abandoned without child support to raise kids alone.
TA: I agree, there are a lot of men who aren’t good for them. But for some reason, when a black woman gets with a good black man, she thinks he’s weak, she thinks he’s a punk. If you’re a single-mom, I can appreciate that you’re facing certain challenges. But does that give you the right to treat a good black man with such anger and contempt? I don’t think so.
KW: What do you think is the source of their problem?
TA: I equate them almost with child molesters who grew up to become child molesters. They didn’t like it at the time but still grew up to do the same thing, because they understand how to fight, and the struggle, and all the drama. But what they doesn’t understand is how to get along. And so when they’re with a nice guy, they get frustrated, lose their comfort level, because all of a sudden they have more responsibility to actually pull their weight in the relationship. And when he doesn’t bring any drama, they bring the drama, because that’s what they’re comfortable with.
KW: So, what types of women do you date?
TA: Right now, I’m not dating anybody.
KW: What type of women were you engaged to?
TA: They were all black women. My preference is absolutely black women. That’s why I’m trying to expose the problem that we’re having, so that they maybe could learn from it.
KW: I recently reviewed a book called Mixed written by a sister who said that she started dating white guys after she moved to L.A. from Philly because no black men would even ask her out. Is that an accurate description of the state of affairs there?
TA: That is so far from the truth. I don’t agree because I live in Los Angeles. Most black people date other black people here, so she’s definitely speaking from a tainted perspective.
KW: Still, this might have been her real personal experience.
TA: There are many different points of view, but Diary of a Tired Black Man is dealing specifically with the issue of the anger.
KW: Do you think that there might be a connection between the anger and misogyny directed at black women by gangsta’ rap and the sort of anger you’ve witnessed? Maybe it’s a defense mechanism and a rational reaction to misogynist treatment?
TA: I think it’s partly the women’s fault, if they can’t tell that rap music is degrading them, and if they continue to respond to the rappers and get on the dance floor. The worse the song is, the more they want to dance to it. That’s definitely part of the problem. I’m trying to put the face of a good black man up, because the rappers have already had their day.
KW: How do you expect black women to react to this film?
TA: If you have a medical condition, first you have to go to the doctor to diagnose the problem, before you can heal it. But you cannot tell black women they have an anger issue. They won’t accept it. The reason I’m putting it in a movie is that you have a great forum, a situation where people have to sit there for two hours, shut up, and listen. And that’s something that you cannot do in person.
KW: You sound like a black Dr. Phil, talking tough love, here. This is likely to provoke some very heated exchanges. What type of reactions have you gotten from sisters to the clip so far?
TA: I’ve gotten thousands of emails. I’m definitely getting some that are kicking and screaming about it, but believe it or not, the overwhelming majority of women agree with it, even the very educated ones. And the few that called who disagreed, changed their minds after I talked to them and they said, “Is that what we do? I’m glad to see this from a man’s point-of-view. You know what? I suddenly see what you’re saying.” Some of them say, “We do need to check ourselves.”
KW: Have any women shown an interested in dating you because of the movie, and of what ethnicity?
TA: A few, primarily black women. Some were definitely enamored, but I don’t get out much, because I work very hard
KW: Certainly some sisters must see it as a slap in the face of black women.
TA: Some try to make it a bigger issue than it is by saying it’s an indictment of all black people. But it’s not. He says, I’m tired of “angry” black women like you and pointed at them. It’s a very direct hit. They attacked him at the door. He just came to pick up his daughter.
KW: Do you feel uncomfortable about presenting black women in such a negative light?
TA: Whites make movies where we see white people as trailer trash? What’s the difference?
KW: Maybe the presence of the white woman is what makes the anger issue seem so explosive in your film?
TA: It’s not about the white woman. It’s about the angry black woman. And when have you ever seen a movie which shows a positive image of a black man who takes care of his family and carries himself with dignity, even when he’s under fire. You’ve seen us be the problem, the drug-dealers, the gangstas, the criminals, the losers, the buffoons, the cross-dressers. When have you seen a dignified black man handling his responsibilities? They say there’s no good black man? Here’s a good black man. This guy ain’t no pimp, and he ain’t puttin’ on a dress. In this particular scenario, a good black man can’t find peace and happiness in his home. No matter what he does, she relentlessly rakes him over. And finally he gets tired, and has to leave. So, she drives him away.
KW: Do you think your film could possible trigger more violence against black women or make even more of a rift between sisters and brothers?
TA: No, it’s not about that at all. Anybody who sees this movie and wants to go hit a woman is sick and has a problem. If anything, maybe women will realize that if they didn’t have to get in that last word, maybe they could circumvent some of the violence that they’re already going through.
KW: I gotta ask you one last thing, the Jimmy Bayan question. What area of L.A. do you live in?
TA: Studio City, in The Valley.
KW: Thanks for the interview and good luck with the film.
TA: Thank you.