Saturday, June 25, 2022

“The Eyes of Tammy Faye” through second chances and redemption

At first blush, the main draw of The Eyes of Tammy Faye would seem to be the real-life intimate romance between two aspiring televangelists. They fall in love immediately at the first encounter. They want to sleep together. But they are bound by their moral stand that each believes that to engage in premarital sex is to sin in God’s sight.

While that romantic tale seems affectionate and adoring in a very generic way, there’s a lot more to think about the film as the narrative progresses into the flaws of their collapsing marriage and business empire. Like many other biopics that grapple with life crisis, The Eyes of Tammy Faye traces back into the past to captivate insights into the present. While it isn’t exactly an ‘inspirational’ genre, it somehow pulls out one moment or two that make you think and learn something.

Who is Tammy Faye?

We see the film as the character looks at the world, literally through the eyes of Tammy Faye (brilliantly played by Jessica Chastain), as she is almost in every scene. Through her eyes, we see how she and her ambitious husband Jim Baker (Andrew Garfield) rise to fame in The 700 Club that went to air on CBN in 1969.

The following years, they set up the foundation of Praise The Lord Club (PTL Club), the then-largest Christian broadcast network in the country. When Tammy snoops Jim rolling on the floor wrestling with his male assistant, perhaps a little too friendly, we begin to question his sexuality. The next thing we know is that we pick up the signals of Jim’s financial crimes before we witness the downfall of the media empire and how scandals tear their marriage apart.

While there‘s sympathy for Tammy Faye, she has her own flaws. It is not about her ridiculous fondness toward fiercely gaudy makeup and garish appearances that put her in relentless mockeries. Instead, it is her pitiful infatuation with her music composer as she is deprived of love and affection from her husband Jim.

Real-life Tammy Faye’s final appearance on Larry King Live in 2007


Tammy Faye’s life

In the moment approaching its conventional ending, there is an act of redemption by the character Tammy Faye that is immensely humane. As she sets herself free from the restraints of eternal guilt and condemnation of past sins, she at least picks up the pieces and marches on into future.

She is ceaselessly optimistic despite rejections from TV producers. She doesn’t let public backlash crack her compassion. As she returns home from a TV studio that blatantly disregards her idea of coming-back TV project, a few teenage neighbors poke fun at her makeup. She tackles the situation gracefully, even though it is a tough hard-knock life for her.

Through second chances and redemption

In the exact final sequence, Tammy gets her first singing gig at Oral Roberts School of Divinity, which melodramatizes Tammy’s story into salvation and redemption. While the film does not push buttons in an attempt to make us feel pitiful for her, her longing for redemption provides a great amount of depth. She is attempting to redeem herself, to humanize herself, which demands skillfully emotional depth.

What is more obvious is that Tammy Faye longs for acceptance. As she hits the stage, she performs with a convincing display of an unwavering Christian force. “I haven’t had a concert in a decade, and I am a little nervous,” she professes to the reserved audience.

“But I’ll do my best to deliver him to you folks tonight, ok?” On one side, she is simply a woman performing solo on stage chanting praises to God for the crowd. But deep inside her mind, she has full choir rising and backing up her performance. She feels sudden, intense, overpowering emotion as if she, though illusory, made it to the peak of her glorious fame again.

A tenacious character that bounces back from hellish downfall, Tammy Faye rightfully deserves a second chance through redemption and salvation. As she famously remarks “It’s not over until it’s over”, it is hard to argue with that.

The Eyes of Tammy Faye is now available in stores on Blu-ray.

Adrian Radjabhttps://diksi.carrd.co/
Adrian Radjab loves writing and does it the right way. When he is not writing, he teaches and translates some stuff. On his day off, he smokes and watches Golden Girls reruns.

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