Thursday, November 19, 2009
Passing On 'Precious'
I'm not going to see "Precious."
Back in the '90s, I knew several people who had read (or attempted to read) "Push," the novel "Precious" is based on. To be fair, I'm one of those people who can't stomach stories, real or imagined, about child abuse. Reviews and word of mouth convinced me that I was the wrong audience for a story about a morbidly obese girl who is repeatedly raped by her father, impregnated with his children, and subjected to depraved acts at her mother's hand. It's not that I didn't know those things happened (I was a newspaper reporter, after all), but I had zero desire to be immersed in that world in my down time.
The Washington Post's Courtland Milloy said it better than I can, but I just don't see the value in watching this hellish story play out on the big screen. I'm all for tackling hard truths through art, but I have a hard time believing that "Precious" will do anything to make a difference in the lives of real-life abuse victims. Plus, there's something deeply grating about the idea of a privileged film festival audience seeing this movie and gasping, "How powerful! I had no idea this world of ghetto tragedy existed!"
There's a valid argument that "Precious" represents a thoughtful alternative to movies about African-American men dressed in drag and adaptations of ham-fisted stage plays. (Irony! Tyler Perry is one of the big names promoting "Precious.") But are those my only choices if I want to see a movie with more than two black people in it?
Sorry, Oprah. I can't go down this road with you.