Yesterday afternoon I reached out to one of our contributing writers, Alisha Gordon, to see if she was planning to see Tyler Perry’s latest film, “The Single Moms Club.” “Not with my own money,” she replied. I expected this response. Gordon is a single mother and a graduate student who is increasingly weary of how Tyler Perry tells women’s stories. Her and I continued to talk about why she wouldn’t be paying to see the movie and I came to the realization that Perry might have missed out on a big marketing opportunity in not explicitly targeting single mothers. Not marketing that increases their consumption by way of paying for his movie, but marketing that shows his concern for the plight of many single moms by sponsoring a “Single Moms Night Out.” After all, Perry stands to make plenty of money from the story of single mothers, so why shouldn’t some of the proceeds go toward actual single mothers by way of giving them a space to release and celebrate just as the characters in his movie will inevitably do?
Given this I scoured Perry’s Twitter feed and the Internet to see if he was already on top of it. Alas no theatres were rented out and no contest was launched to celebrate single moms in a tangible way. Perry speaks of honoring the lives of single moms but what about honoring the daily lived experience of single moms? The single moms who want to see his movie but can’t afford it? Or the ones who have been struggling in isolation with raising a child because her community has cast her to the margins? How could a man benefit from the story of single mothers–including the single mother who raised him–without tangibly giving back to that very community? With that I said to the writer, “I wonder if Perry would consider paying for single mothers to see it.” She challenged me to tweet Tyler Perry and we hope that the rest will be social media history.
I want every single mom on Twitter to tweet @tylerperry and ask him to sponsor a single moms night out to see this movie.
This yielded Gordon, others who are single moms, and even a couple of men who aren’t even single parents sending tweets to Tyler Perry asking him to sponsor a “Single Moms Night Out.” Gordon also sent a widely shared open status message to Tyler Perry on Facebook that read as follows,
Hi, Tyler Perry!
I was wondering: what if you sponsored single moms to see your film #SingleMomsClub this weekend? It would be quite the gesture. I mean, you ARE telling OUR story, right?
Most single moms I know are on a fixed income and spending $15 at the movie theater (plus $ for a baby sitter) is far-fetched and hard to come by.
Yet, you stand to earn millions of dollars off of the stories of women who are often marginalized and ostracized in society.
Single moms live and find rest in the margins — margins that limit and oppress and restrict and constantly remind you of your decision to carry and birth a life you may or may not have been prepared to care for.
In those same margins, the community comes to offer support and guidance as we collectively raise sons and daughters.
You are telling some version of this story (and getting paid well to do so.) Of course, a comp movie ticket to your local theater isn’t justification nor does it placate the need for more in-depth conversation about single parenthood.
[But what it does is not call for the marginalized women whose story you are attempting to tell PAY INTO seeing their story told.]
So, what say you, Tyler? Got a little room to offer your biggest supporters the opportunity to see their story told sans reaching into their pocketbooks?
This post is public, so I’m looking forward to getting the “like” notification from you soon!
In doing this, our hope is that many single moms and supporters of single moms will flood Tyler Perry’s Twitter feed and Facebook feed with requests to sponsor a “Single Moms Night Out.” We hope that it will create a groundswell that he can’t deny and it will force him to truly honor the women whose stories he dares to tell and to profit from. We know that there are certainly other and better ways Perry can help through programming and advocacy that supports single mothers, but that is another post for another day.
So what do you think, should Tyler Perry sponsor a #singlemomsnightout so that real single moms can see his new film “Single Moms Club?” If so, join the campaign and tweet @tylerperry to encourage him to do so. If not, tell us why. Either way, we hope you’ll join the discussion.