Picture 1008I didn’t like the book. I was underwhelmed by it even as an eighth grade student in 2002. I thought it a bootleg version of The Color Purple circa 1989. But as a young, African-American woman and independent filmmaker, I decided that the adaptation of Push by Lee Daniels was too important to miss.

So, on a rainy Saturday, I made my way to a movie theatre in North Philadelphia to watch Precious with the target demographic. They loved it. I did not. I cringed. I cried. I cursed. But even more I was offended. Oh how I was offended. Let me count the ways.

Offense #1
Light, bright or just plain white.

Everyone that aids Precious in her journey to literacy and success is white, light, or ethnically ambiguous. Everyone who harms Precious is dark skin. So, people of African descent can’t do anything of merit without the help of a white person? Yes, light skin people are Black too but these Black actors (Paula Patton, Mariah Carey and Lenny Kravitz) all have a white parent. And let us not forget about the benevolent white principal who stands outside in the rain pleading with Precious to further her education and the compassionate white math teacher that travels from his comfortable home to do his part in the inner city. Even as Precious’ mom begins to better herself she also becomes lighter most likely through skin bleach. I take issue with a film that promises to uplift, demonizing people that look like me and praising the very people who created the society that we are meant to FAIL in. God bless the beautiful people who saw fit to love a fat, black illiterate like Precious. Nothing like some black pain and white sympathy to get Oscar buzz.

Offense #2
Mary, go round.

I’m a stickler for continuity and many of Mary’s actions seemed unwarranted. Who could see it coming? Her mother (Precious’ grandmother) seemed well adjusted, she was attractive in her younger days, and bordering on intelligent. Her responses (especially to Precious) to me seemed unprompted and existed only for shock value. I would have loved to have seen actual character development with Mary. Afterall, we see her everyday and everywhere- black, poor, single, female, mother, hopeless. In reality we do worse than hate Mary, we ignore her. So did Monique do Mary justice by making her an object of hatred and disgust? Or should we sympathize with the Mary(s) in our neighborhood? I’d go for the latter. However, the Oscar will go to…Monique, for her amazing performance as a woman with no redeeming qualities. I propose we add the “Mary” to the list of stereotypes in media. Mary: brutal, undersexed, infuriating Black mother.

Offense #3
Daydreaming, and I’m thinking of my light skin boyfriend

I love me some Lenny Kravitz but what was he doing in the film. Was he an effort to show that all Black men aren’t all lascivious rapists? Or was he a materialization of Precious’ dream guy? And why was he drunk at the party? Why was he in attendance at the party? Some many unanswered questions. Ladies, I need answers.

That’s my beef for now. Remember to watch with a critical eye and more importantly, remember just because Oprah backs it doesn’t mean it’s golden. Deuces!

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  • I applaud everyone for their respective comments as this debate is healthy and necessary. The only thing that I would note to Khari as young woman is that “consciousness” as we refer to it in our community is not necessarily picking apart every single depiction of us as a people for political correctness or even a balanced view of who we are as a people. To be conscious is to be aware of who you are and to be unchanged in the face of things that you perceive to be unrealistic portrayals of you. However, you may also want to take in account that there is no mutually exclusive manner in which to be Black . Thus, it would be narrow minded and perhaps even elitist to dismiss this story as one with out merit simply because it does not coincide with your own life experience. It would also be reckless to expect black film makers and artists in general to only create art that we deemed appropriate – as artists they are provocateurs and as such it is there duty to elicit these very debates with their work. Moreover, mainstream society does not ask white filmmakers to compromise their artistic right to produce their vision, why I ask do we as a people continually do so to our artists?

  • Brandon

    Forgive me if this is redundant. I did not read Push. However, I am told its based on true story. If so, then there are multiple filters of mass American pyschosis through which this story makes its way to the big screen. We, the viewer are then left to do what the author has done here, name instances of egregious characterization, and at the same time dig through these to connect with the humans from whom the story emerges. Its the sort of thing we do when we go back to recover the beauty of early black cinema. It was full of shucking and jiving and at the same time it conveyed the turmoil, joy, and aspirations of African Americans living in a time of viciously explicit racism.

  • I loved the movie…yes I did cry but as everyone says…I need to read the book as well. I was so hurt that someone went through this. I sat in the cinemea before I left and thanked god for a strong grandma that was there for me and my brothers through thick and thin and I never had to go through something like that. So on today, be thankful and keep praying for others that are going through a struggle similar to this…heart ya!

  • D

    Let me start by saying that I am a major fan of Clutch and I usually love what I read weekly on this site. However, I do not agree with most of the points made in this review. I know that we all are entitled to our own opinion, but I felt compelled to give my opinion as well. I am so tired of black people bringing up points like light skinned versus dark skinned. It’s amazing to me that something as silly as that jumped out to you while watching this film. That issue never came across my mind. What about all of Precious’s classmates who also helped her along the way? They were not light skinned. They gave her a sense of family and ultimately great friends to her which finally assisted her in gaining confidence and courage to keep moving forward with her schooling. What about the fact that a very dark skinned woman was shown being such a strong and determined young lady no matter what happened to her? You did not even mention that. The hero of the movie was Precious, no one else. Yes she had help along the way but ultimately she made it on her own; she wasn’t saved by the “angelic” light skinned people as you stated. I am sorry but that is straight foolishness and I am sick and tired of us constantly looking for petty stuff like that. It drives me crazy. The major point of the film was seeing a young black woman continuing to push forward through life despite all the obstacles that were in her way. She never, ever gave up and that’s what makes it an amazing story. Instead of addressing the BS that is light skinned vs. dark skinned, let’s really talk about the real issues. There are thousands of young black children who are experiencing the things that Precious addressed on a daily basis. That is the real problem in our society, not some old field Negro vs. house Negro stuff that is talked about in your review. Also, in regards to Mary Jones, how much time did you expect them to delve into her story? The movie was well over two hours anyway. It was clear to me why she was evil so there was no need to go any further with her story. Anyway, my major point is that we are black people are at times can be overly critical of ourselves and we just look for anything to be upset about. The thing that should have upset all of us is seeing the reality before our eyes which is the abuse that is going on in households across America.