Tyler Perry Redeems Strindberg

daddys1658158726.jpgIn 1888 August Strindberg wrote a seminal work for the modern theater, with his play Miss Julie. In the short battle of the sexes, a lower class servant, Jean, seduces an upper class aristocratic woman, Miss Julie. Miss Julie, dissatisfied with her life as a woman trapped by the social conventions of her age, is conviced by Jean that freedom and escape is possible only in her death. She then commits suicide. The Culture of Death triumphs over the Kingdom of God.

In his film Daddy’s Little Girls, writer and director Tyler Perry has taken Strindberg’s situation and demonstrated how life in the Kingdom of God can produce far different results than life in August Strindberg’s Evil Age.

Monty is the Jean character in this film: a single dad garage mechanic who needs to win back his daughters from their mother and her boyfriend who plan to initiate the girls into the sins of the Present Evil Age. “Coincidentally” Monty  bumps into Julia, an upper class  successful lawyer, who is frustrated with the social conditions of her age; she just can’t seem to meet a decent, Christian man.

But Monty alienates Julia almost immediately, and besides, he can’t afford her services. But hearing Bishop Eddie Long remind his congregation of St Paul’s admonition to keep the faith even to the point of fainting,  Monty, inspired, pursues the lawyer, not for sex, as have the other men she has encountered, but because she is the best hope for saving his daughters. Monty’s priorities win Julia’s heart.

Julia’s peers, like Miss Julie’s peers, mock her interest in a low class male. However, in the Kingdom of God, seeking another’s welfare before one’s own, leads Monty to win not only the custody of his daughters but also the hand of the beautiful Julia. The Kingdom of God breaks into Julia’s life, she finds freedom, not in the modern world’s Culture of Death,  but in the new life of her new roles as Christian wife and stepmother.

Consciously or unconsciously, Tyler Perry has been transforming the great plots and characters of the secular world (first Euripides’ Medea [see my “Do You Know This Very Great Man?”], and now Strindberg’s Miss Julie) into emblematic figures of citizens of God’s Kingdom, here already but not yet.

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