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Is 'Precious' racist?

Is the acclaimed film, 'Precious,' about an obese African American teen an inspiring story—or just sensationalist "poverty porn"?

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"

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