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"Precious" isn't "Silkwood"

Silkwood2 I've been catching up on a stack of old Time and Newsweek Magazines. We subscribed for a year and quickly got overwhelmed. So, I'm reading the November 16, 2009, issue of Newsweek when I come across a critical essay written by Raina Kelly about the movie Precious that came out last year.

Here are some good excerpts:

"Depending on who you are, where you grew up, and, frankly, the color of your skin, you'll most likely react in one of two ways to [this movie]....insist that it is yet another stereotypical, demonizing representation of black people [or] thrilled to see a depiction of a young African-American woman that, while heartbreaking, is a portrait of the black experience that has been overlooked on the sunny horizon that stretches from The Cosby Show to House of Payne.

"Yes, Precious is changed at the end of the movie...but that isn't enough. I wanted just a hint that she would also escape the hell that is urban poverty. Precious was lucky to find the alternative school that could help her. But that's fiction. Im reality, there are far more Preciouses than there are teachers to help them. Movies such as this allow us to forget that....Her situation feels so extreme that we lose sight of the bigger picture. It becomes too hard to summon up any more outrage at the social worker who never figures out that something awful is happening in Precious's home, or a the well-meaning civil servant who can't help Precious beyond finding her a a job at $2.12 on hour...I'm tired of movies presenting black people as grateful to find a helping hand to rise above their abusers. Not because we've seen this movie before--staring Sidney Poitier, Michelle Pfeiffer, Hilary Swank, Morgan Freeman, and even Matthew Perry--but because the story never changes.

How about a "based on a true story" tear-jerker that ends with some tangible improvement in the lives of impoverished children? Where's the African-American Norma Rae or Silkwood?


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