I 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.
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.
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.
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!