- Racial Equity
- Talk About Race
Be prepared: my article will confuse. I still need time to digest this movie. It’s only been an hour since I went to the theater to experience the film we all know as Precious. What you are about to read are my initial reactions: pre-processing, the still-digesting, partially-raw material of my thoughts. Although not extensive or elaborate, and though I may not be a film critic, my first impressions were generally Why this story? Is this it? Is this all we are? While disturbingly real, why do I hear laughter? What is so funny?
The Purpose of Precious
I didn’t initially want to write a review. I didn’t want to merely explain the story. How I felt immediately after the movie was far more important. Precious tested my emotions, my brain, my own worldview, my reality. What matters isn’t if you like it or not. The film was designed to make us talk, make us think; challenge our perceptions and perspectives. The disappointing thing is, not many people respond well to movies like that.
Why does it seem like every “serious” movie about the Black experience in America is sad?
Remember the Titans, X, Roots, Talk to Me, Antwon Fisher, The Pursuit of Happiness, Hotel Rwanda, Panther, Last King of Scotland… your A-list African American films depicting the pathos of race. Go to Blockbuster.com and look at the African American movie titles. I’ve never seen such a depressing collection of horrible stories about the characters lives. Black movies that do well are usually ones that feed into stereotypes or characteristics that people want to believe is true. Though there may not be your typical white savior Precious, the film directed by Lee Daniels still holds onto this trend.
Excuse my delirium, but it’s an exposing movie. These stories really are happening in the lives of some Blacks everywhere. Is it better to have more sob stories about the Black experience – good or bad – than keep them hidden? Maybe yes, maybe no. We still don’t have a Black Humphrey Bogart; our Black heroes are few and far between. We hardly have any memorable Black intellectuals in cinema, or great discovers, scientists, superheroes. Why is it that most African-American movies expose, embellish and exploit our most harrowing and tragic American experiences? And I haven’t even made mention of the gender issues here…
The camera work is golden, with the majority of the movie appearing as if it were filmed using handheld DV, similar to Spike Lee’s Bamboozled. It looks as if an amateur was operating the camera. The stutter of the zoom-ins and the reduced number of film cuts during dialogue gives the audience a feeling that there is only one camera in operation. The color of the movie, muddy with enhanced blacks, sharp highlights and dull primary colors worked well as the story takes place in the eighties. It took me back there. And the characters are all eerily present, as if you`re able to listen to their inner monologues.
Wishing I Was White
When Precious looks into the mirror, wishing she was white, it`s like you can hear the entire civil rights movement crashing in upon you. That simple desire for whiteness encompasses the oppression and exploitation of an entire people, an insidious legacy of white supremacy that has made assimilation the way for Blacks to do the right thing. What does Precious have to do with the rest of us, regardless of whether we`re Black or not? Here are some homework questions: Is being a successful black person as desirable as being a successful white person? Isn`t the desire to be white more than a passing thought, but an insidious aspect of our culture today?
I challenge anyone who said they hated this movie or said this movie is wrong to go in their DVD collection and check themselves. And after that, here’s a holiday film wish list, to broaden your horizon:
Catch a Fire
The Color Purple
Boyz in the Hood
Menace II Society
Hustle & Flow
Men of Honor
To highlight, Mariah Carey did great… You go girl.