With pivotal support from executive producers Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry, "Precious"— the grim story of an illiterate, obese, abused black teen—prevailed at the box office this weekend with a record $1.8 million in limited release. Though most critics gave the "resoundingly hopeful" release two large thumbs up, dissenters say it just perpetuates negative stereotypes. Is "Precious" exploitative? (Watch a trailer for "Precious")
"Precious" is a sociological horror show: Shame on Tyler Perry and Oprah Winfrey for endorsing this "orgy of prurience," says Armond White in the New York Press. This "post-hip-hop freak show" demeans black American life more than it enlightens.
"Pride & Precious"
Critics who cry "racist" are missing the point: "I wish I could agree with those who say 'Precious' is just one more movie that feeds [African Americans'] vision of ourselves as victims," says Raina Kelley in Newsweek. What’s really outrageous is that the film, set in 1987, "is a period piece that feels like a documentary." Hardly anything has changed in the 20 years since.
"Precious": Has the Black Ghetto Changed?
The controversy is overshadowing the film: "Precious" was set to be "this year’s requisite heartwarming movie story," says The Wall Street Journal's Speakeasy blog. "Ah, not so fast." Audiences might just avoid a film that raises such “thorny questions” about how Hollywood handles issues of race and class: Who wants to suffer through a "downer" movie if it’s not a "must-see masterpiece”?
"'Precious' Reviews Divided on Issues of Sex, Race and Class"