I first saw Precious on the cover of the NYT magazine last summer and got very excited! Finally! A large, black, woman, is making positive inroads in a movie world that is riddled with stereotypical roles for people of color, but NOT PRECIOUS. In my mind, and refusing to read the fine print, this was a big, bold, and glam femme fatale, and that cover shot, just made me smile.
(At the time, I was in the midst of coordinating the W.A.R. interviews and was learning about authors who experienced racism in a multitude of ways – and whose stories were as diverse as they were. And yet they had solutions.)
In my mind, there was HOPE that the movie, PRECIOUS, would break through the stereotypes. And as the eternal optimist, I did not want that hope shattered by the realities of Hollywood: big, black, impoverished, abused, and poor, SELLS. It also pulls at our heartstrings and makes us feel the pity that’s needed for nominations.
Having not watched the movie, I won’t comment on the content, but I can comment on the reviews with a huge sigh. Here we go again!
Hence my initial idealism of the rags-to-Oba-mama riches experience turned out to be a dud – I think.
Raina Kelley from Newsweek writes: They insist that it is yet another stereotypical, demonizing representation of black people. The other camp, however, is thrilled to see a depiction of a young African-American woman that, while heartbreaking, is a portrait of the black experience that has been overlooked on the sunny horizon that stretches from The Cosby Show to House of Payne. (The Problem With ‘Precious’)
Then I read more movie reviews and thought, what about the children? We are in a world where obesity, poverty, sexual abuse, and disease are major problems. We also live in a world where racism is pervasive. What can young people take away from this movie? Will they be inspired, Hollywood? Will they want to become more like Precious?
I guess I’ll have to watch it for myself. And if she wins tonight, then maybe the answer will be YES.