For the past few days I’ve been writing about the latest book-turned-film called, Precious. Hitting theatres in November, 2009, as I searched through forums just to see what people were saying about it, there was a mixed reaction. Not shunned the way Hounddog wrongfully was (a whole other topic for another day), Precious stirred up curiosity as well as some resistance. Basically, women are blogging about the film, expressing honest concerns they have over seeing it. Why? Well, for a very understandable reason. It’s painful!
Although the poet Sapphire released her novel as a work of “fiction,” the premise is REAL. One of the realest depictions I’ve ever seen, actually. Precious, a severely overweight teen who is sexually abused by both her mother and father, physically abused, verbally crucified, and forced to eat and stay “fat,” is a whole lot of girls out there. And let’s be honest here. Life is hard. A lot of us go to the movies to escape reality with a vampire for a few hours. In Precious, however, you will face the darkest version of reality.
Originally calling the film Push (like the book,) the name-change came when another film (a thriller) titled Push was also hitting Hollywood’s scene. Simply to avoid confusion, Precious emerged. After a Sundance big win, it was Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry who stepped in, enabling its distribution. Both Winfrey and Perry are victims of sexual abuse and that was the driving force behind pushing Precious into the theatrical limelight. Why release a film so tragic and horrible? That’s the thing….underneath the nightmare, something powerful is there.
Just to clarify, the powerful drive behind Precious isn’t wrapped up nicely in a Hollywood blockbuster-type climactic triumph. The colorful fantasies that offer Precious refuge during the ugliest moments don’t materialize into her new reality in the third act. We don’t get the gratification of watching Precious kick the living sh** out of her father, “accidentally” drown her mother, get skinny, win millions, become famous and land the hottest guy on her block.
Precious has two kids. They belong to her own father. That will never change. And even after finally leaving the cramped dark apartment where she spent those sixteen hellish years, there is still one more big blow.
Director Lee Daniels found a way to show the horrors of sexual abuse, delicately. It is ugly but he never emotionally over-dramatizes our wounded protagonist. We are alright. Promise! In fact, we are somehow a little more than alright. While unable to stand up for her own life, it’s when Precious fiercely puts up a fight to protect her child when I got it. Unloved by her parents, Precious loved her children more than I think we can understand. The cycle of abuse ends with her. Precious’ wounds resulted in two children escaping, their innocence intact.
A little later…
Ironically, I was flipping through channels and caught a glimpse of actress Gabourey Sidibe (Precious) on Jay Leno. Looking great, she was so bubbly, cute, fun and full of life. She looked humble but proud. And what’s even weirder is somehow I felt proud, too. I felt proud of survivors who were sexually abused as children. Yep, proud!
Hollywood Woman, a daily column celebrating women in film begins with a five part series about sexual abuse as seen in the movie, Precious. This is the second edition.
It is written “For Precious Girls Everywhere.”
To open the basement door and shine the flashlight on the elephant.