HIV Community, Disappointed By Perry’s Portrayal Of HIV In “Temptation,” Pens Open Letter

May 24, 2013  |  

Source: Lions Gate

If you saw the latest Tyler Perry-directed film Temptation, then you know that it sent some very strong messages about people living with HIV. If you haven’t seen the film, and plan on doing so, you may want to click out now.

At the end of the film, Judith the adulterer, discovers she has HIV and Tyler’s depiction of the plot twist is a bit extreme. The visuals lead us to believe that HIV has taken such a toll on Judith that she has aged three times as fast as her husband . So much so, that Perry decides to employ an entirely different, older, actress to portray her character just a few years later. And in one of the most depressing scenes of the film, older Judith literally limps off down the sidewalk.

If you know anything about HIV, you know that’s not necessarily an accurate representation of the disease. One of the reasons it’s such an epidemic is because people are often able to look and live without visible symptoms, especially if they are taken the proper medication. (See Magic Johnson and probably a couple of people in the neighborhood, you didn’t know about.)

The Positive Women’s Network of the United States of America took issue with Perry’s portrayal of the disease and wrote an open letter expressing their frustrations and petitioned him to do better.

They begin the letter like this:

Dear Mr. Perry,

We write as people living with HIV and their allies to express our deep disappointment with your latest film, Temptation. This disappointment is made all the greater because you have done much that can be applauded. Audiences see your plays and films not simply as entertainment, but as opportunities for inspiration, spiritual healing, and unity.

They continue discussing stigma…

As you may be aware, one of the greatest barriers to addressing the HIV epidemic is the high level of stigma and misinformation attached to this simple virus. Stigma prevents people from getting tested for HIV, from protecting themselves during sex, from accessing care when they test positive, and from disclosing their HIV status to family, friends, and sexual partners. Myths and outdated perceptions about how HIV is transmitted and the implications of an HIV diagnosis have resulted in discriminatory treatment towards, and violence against, people living with HIV.

Unfortunately, Temptation can only serve to perpetuate stigma. Your film depicts people with HIV as untouchable and unlovable, doomed to a lifetime of loneliness, and unable to tell their own stories. It implies that men with HIV are sexually irresponsible and predatory. And the final image — that of a woman who has been infected with HIV due to an extramarital affair walking away alone and unhealthy — sends the message that HIV is a punishment for immoral behavior.


Read the letter in its entirety on the next page.

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  • FromUR2UB

    How are they calling it a “simple virus” when 31 years after its introduction to the public, there is still no cure for it? It’s still potentially lethal, and it’s irresponsible of these women to be overly concerned with its image. The disease was merely a character in the movie; the purpose was not to focus on it and document its symptoms, or show, “Hey, it’s really not so bad”, but instead, to show how this woman’s whole life unraveled by a series of choices. I guess it should have been glamorized so that people can forget that it’s a disease at all. Also, like others have commented, I believe Perry switched the actresses who played Judith, so that he could reveal the true identity of the counselor, at the end. The characters were in their late 20s when the movie began, and by their appearance at the end, I think we were to understand that a decade or two had passed, not a few short years. I thought her limp was not intended to represent a symptom of the disease, but symbolic of how the woman’s life had progressed. She wasn’t thriving and prospering and lived with a lot of regrets.

  • Realityh03$Anonymous….ohwait

    After reading the article and the comments i know the movie… its cool my mom spoiled it for me after she saw it… yeah it sucks that im one of the few who haent seen it yet, sucks even more that the bootleg movie dude up the street still dont have any more… i’ll catch it at the dollar movies in a few weeks…

  • Realityh03$Anonymous….ohwait

    *__________* u me killed with that!

  • Mika1003

    RIGHT..i see why this movie had such a low rating. I HATED the end especially because (spoiler alert) Lance Gross character asked Brandys character about her love life and she immediately looked sad and said she had HIV. Made it seem like her illness was just a burden on ever having a potential love life. PLUS all of TP movies are rushed at the end..she was aged and dressed as an old hag walking alone. Just skipped alot of needed info on what happened between the fight and her walking in the pharmacy. I like TP but his scripting can be a bit elementary sometimes.

  • educatedandafrican

    Tyler Perry has made movies that highlight a lot of issues in the African American Community (Drugs, Prostitution, Abuse) Eventually he was going to get to HIV/AIDS.

  • lex

    My beautiful aunt contracted HIV from her new husband who did not disclose his status. Within 3 months after discovering her infection she had a crisis with sores, diarrhea, weight loss etc. and had to be hospitalized. We thought she would die. The person who survived that episode and left the hospital had aged by 20 years. So while the HIV community might not agree with Mr. Perry, I have and am living what he potrayed every time I see my aunt, and I grieve every day.

    • PleaseDOBetter

      Thank you for sharing this.

  • very_ opinionated

    How long ago did this movie come out…..please stop it

  • kittymabach

    its a movie damn

  • I think people try their hardest to bring tp down and support groups are always looking for error i.e peta, feminine rights groups etc….we all know tp can get a bit over the top with his plot. But they stopped at what they didn’t like instead of seeing that their life was a downward spiral which lead to their dysfunction. As a tp fan i will admit that i wish he would quit victimizing women all the time. I know we were the majority of his fan base but victimizing oneself only teaches melodrama and that it’s okay to not grow bc you’re the victim. He needs more conquers in his films.

  • pickneychile

    The wig and makeup they threw together for him was horrible! I busted out laughing when he turned around.

  • Chey


  • KayKay

    I completely understand this letter but I don’t think that was what he was trying to do. If you recall Brandy’s character also had HIV and she was not shown as aging poorly. I believe that everyone ages differently and the fact that Judith used drugs could have played a huge factor in her looks.

  • Na Na

    I’m just glad that TP addressed HIV at all in this movie. sooo mnay young people go around sexing like crazy with no regards to the outcome. Not trying to demonize those who have HIV but it is a horrible disease to live with and totally preventable in a lot of cases. I can appreciate the dramatics of the scene, just like Soul Food when Grandma burned her arm up because she had diabetes and couldn’t feel the fire. The diabetes is an affect of a population eating horrible foods and not excercising. Its art, its a movie, its a DRAMA its suppossed to be dramatic.

    Every group of this and that is a bunch of cry babies and need to get their panties out of a bunch. can anyone live now a days and just make a living without a group writing a letter!

  • Britt

    I’m not really sure why Mr. Perry would dramatize infidelity and HIV in the way that he did. Because unlike this film, reality is ever changing, not all infidelity is mirrored to reveal Judith’s situation. I’m pretty sure that most of the people that viewed this film pretty much expressed how distasteful it was. Mr. Perry is seriously out to make a quick buck, being sympathetic to people with HIV isn’t part of his job description.

  • Atin

    I completely understand where they are coming from. Some women have received HIV from their husbands or someone they’ve been in a long-term relationship with. However, there are people that have received HIV through needles, by doing drugs, or by sleeping around. I don’t see anything wrong with the movie. The guy slept around. No, this isn’t the only way to catch HIV, but it may increase a person’s chance of catching it. Brandy wasn’t alone because she had HIV, she was alone because she was afraid of the guy finding her and harming her. And at the end, she had people in her life, she had friends. And the main character was alone because of the way she treated her husband. But he still was kind to her and was there for her… I don’t think Tyler Perry was implying that people with HIV are sinful and all that other stuff. Yes, I do feel sympathy for people that catch HIV, especially those who don’t sleep around and catch it. It’s a very serious and sad thing. But his movie wasn’t about that. It was about a woman who cheated on her husband, and at the end she caught HIV. And the writers of this letter should understand that although they did not sleep around and catch it, there are others who have slept around and caught it. Everyone with HIV has a different story. Some have caught it from a trusted partner, some have caught it by sleeping around, some have caught it by sharing needles, etc. So they shouldn’t be so quick to try and make Tyler Perry feel wrong for his movie.

  • Kimberly Simmons

    I think the limping was shown because when Judith was rescued, she was badly beaten and she was also a runner, so it could be assumed that the limp is from her injuries. Also she was in a drug induced state and in the aging process she may have had to go through rehab etc…

  • pickneychile

    I thought he used a different actress to throw the viewer off. When she starts talking she says its her sister that went through all this, so I assumed he wanted to use a different face to add another twist (even though the movie wasn’t hard to figure out after you met all the characters). But I can see where they are coming from. I thought the limp was dramatic and unnecessary too. And I wasn’t sure why Brandy’s character hadn’t been made to look like she’d aged at all.

    • I_am_a_Gladiator/Scandalista

      I know this is late, so I apologize but I thought she was limping from that guy beating her up really bad? No?

      • pickneychile

        Yeah idk why but I totally forgot about that part when I wrote my comment. That probably was why though.