Tuesday, May 18, 2010

book ends movie list: Precious



3. Ages ago I watched Precious but completely forgot to write up my little movie review about it. This is probably because I was mostly unimpressed with the movie, but felt kind of bad saying so since it won 2 Oscars and since it has been an inspiration for so many. However, I had a hard time with this movie because I felt that it just perpetuated bad stereotypes about women on welfare. Granted, I'm sure that there are plenty of terrible people in the world just like the portrayal of Precious' mother in the movie, but I just wonder at whether or not the world needs another stereotypical black woman on welfare at the forefront in popular culture. At the same time, it is important to learn about the terrible conditions that many people are exposed to (like Precious) but, at what point does our culture need to stop its fascination with confessional stories of despair? What I found myself wondering the entire time I watched this movie was not about the characters themselves but instead about our society in that people enjoy watching stories of others' misery.


By the way, now that I'm done with classes, I plan to be watching a lot more movies and reading more books so get ready for plenty of reviews!

L. Stacks

1 comment:

pete said...

I hated this movie so much that I couldn't take notes beyond variations on 'ARRRRGH' ('YEEEUUGH,' accompanied by doodles of people jumping off raised drawbridges into moats). It forces every one of its issues, the voiceover narration is terrible, the fantasy sequences are so clumsy you can barely dislike them, and Lee Daniels apparently doesn't know you can't buoy a sagging mess of pathos with fragments of a gospel number. You can depict a reality however you like, but laziness is always obvious.

The best part of watching it was that it got me out of two of four hours of class discussion of the book. I notice the stereotypes you fear are perpetuated here are the same ones Precious has--her self-image and all her fantasies in that movie are a full retreat from the whiteness she's supposed to wish she had, and the blackness that exists only in whites' estimation of blacks. She's without identity, if you like, so her mother can abuse her with impunity, because what self would P. stand up for?

There's actually an interesting conversation you can have about the book/movie, but it's almost in spite of the latter, which is so wedded to the former now that it's almost impossible to consider the two apart.

"Stories of others' misery" might sum up the entire basis of creative activity.