I didn’t plan on writing anything about Precious. No review, no anything. I couldn’t wrap my mind around what I had watched in the theater on Friday night. I was really that shocked and shook.
I spent some of Saturday trying to make sense of it, trying to find purpose in the film, the story and why it’s gripping so many people. I was trying to understand why such a film was even needed considering just how trying it is. Seriously, I felt like I was watching nuclear bomb after nuclear bomb dropped on the same city ever 20 minutes, and in reality, we were watching that happen to a child.
At the end of the film, Monica asked “So what happens to her?” and I simply replied, “She dies.”
There was no joke in that, just the grim realization of what was certain. And all I could muster in understanding was that nothing any of us is experiencing could possibly be as bad as what Precious lived through. I hoped that everyone who lives in that fargone mindset known as the far right, especially Mrs. Backasswards Rogue, sees this and comes to know that Precious’ plight is a growing problem in America. The film just magnifies that.
That was the end of my thought process. I didn’t think it was worth writing about.
Then I read this New York Times article on Sunday (“To Blacks, Precious Is ‘Demeaned’ or ‘Angelic'”), and found a reason to write. The piece delves into a debate about whether or not Precious is the stereotypical stereotyping black film, and whether or not it portrays the black family in a light that needs to be shared on such a large scale.
There are arguments on both sides. In this case, anyone who thinks this film is in line with most everything else Tyler Perry has produced is mistaken.
There’s a major difference in telling a story dripping with fried chicken grease humor hoping for a few laughs and procuring a 10-piece bucket as a means of survival because your mother is as worthless as a used Band-Aid.
This story isn’t told at the expense of a black family. It’s told at the expense of the atrocities with which it is laced. The differences in the two are profound.
Her tale isn’t one that demeans the black experience. Rather it’s told to shine a light on several ugly truths at once, in a gripping manner we never see. Illiteracy. Abuse. Physical. Verbal. Rape. Incest. HIV/AIDS. Self-hate. Teenage parenting.
None of those things is unique to the black experience. Hell, none of them are unique to the American experience. Yet, they’re all in this story about a black child who is being forced into adulthood well before most of us knew who we wanted to be, forget who we were.
It’s a real story. It’s black. It’s white (Precious just as easily could have been a hick from the backwoods of Kentucky). It’s human. It’s crazy and it’s unfortunate. But it’s anything but stereotypical. Rather, it’s exacting with its gut punches. It forces you to believe things you don’t want to believe because everything that’s good about life says they’re unbelievable. It puts those unfortunate things in your face and forces you to think.
It’s not there for your entertainment. It’s there to move you.
That’s not cliched, nor is it demeaning to the idea of the black family. It’s life, and like I said, it makes you realize that yours is likely more like one of Precious’ daydreams than it is her reality.
On another note, I thought Monique was good, not great. I thought the film was good, not great. I think most of buzz around it lies in the shock factor of the countless gut punches that are hurled at the lead character. It makes me believe the book must be that much more graphic. Thus, I’m glad I didn’t read it. In fact, part of me wishes I’d have just paid for a ticket to support the film and snuck into “New Moon” or something. The film shook/disturbed me that much. I’m serious. Had I known what was coming, I would have avoided it.