Until 3o Rock parodied Precious in the fictional film “Hard to Watch: based on the novel ‘Stone Cold Bummer’ by Manipulate” I never gave that film a second thought. When I did, I could not figure out its point.
Was it about AIDS in the 80s?
Was it about broken homes and child abuse among African-Americans in low-income areas?
Was it about hope?
I don’t think that a well-told story needs to end on a happy note or even needs to have an obvious point, but I think it needs to be sharing something in a human way. In retrospect, I’m not sure if Precious did that.
It made me uncomfortable, it made me feel bad, it assaulted my senses and showed me a terrible environment in which a girl could be illiterate, abused in the worst ways and trapped. It definitely outlined that well and while it seemed assaulting, it was probably necessary to show that conditions are that bad in places.
But the fact that it’s not set in present-day takes away from the setting, because it can make the viewer think that it happened then and doesn’t happen now, removing the urgency and the public-service-announcement feel of the film.
So, if it makes you feel bad, incites reflection on a past time, then what it is doing? Is it just manipulative?
I don’t ever plan on watching Precious again (and I will not be watching The Kid), so I can’t really answer that question or make any solid judgments about it but I just doubt its purpose…although, I clearly am doing exactly that. I just feel a little conned and maybe that means I should re-watch it, instead of letting parodies form the last impression of it in my mind.
Last week I heard about a film that I think will confront pertinent issues and lend a voice to a not-oft heard group. That film is the Spike Lee produced drama Pariah. It’s such a cheap excuse, but any explanation that I could write would just take away from this beautiful, beautiful trailer that I think you should watch.
“And I’m not running, I’m choosing.”