Moving Beyond “Precious”

“But my question is this: who decides what truths should be told on the big screen and just how many times that particular truth should be visited and revisited?”

No doubt many Parlouristas around the globe tuned in to see who would take home the golden statue at this year’s Academy Awards. With the number of movies nominated, the competition was pretty thick, but no other film held the entertainment industry’s attention more than Lee Daniel’s Precious.

After making an impressive tour on the award show circuit, winning in various categories at The Golden Globes and the Independent Spirit Awards among others, the excitement came to a head on the big night—and Mo’Nique took the prize for best supporting actress to thunderous applause sans George Clooney who remained seated. I admit that I would have been more interested if the movie that Mo’Nique was nominated for actually did anything for me personally, but Precious was sad, stereotypical and at times, mind-numbing, much like Halle Berry’s award winning portrayal in Monster’s Ball. I was happy Mo’Nique was celebrated at the Oscar’s, but a little pissed as to why.

And I know I’m not alone.

Newsweek‘s Allison Samuels’ gives a solid argument for demanding better portrayals of Blacks in cinema and Hollywood’s trend of awarding Black talent for movies that oversimplify and misconstrue the Black experience in America. While I’m sure that the story of Precious is far from fiction, I do know that there is more to us than that, and it doesn’t include a cross-dressing man (Hi Mr. Perry), overt abuse, crime or poverty. While there certainly have been movies that reflect the diversity of Black America, they are continuously overlooked by Hollywood. Let’s see what happens in 2010 and beyond.

New Victories, Old Battles

Last 5 posts by Shannon Washington

  • Eddie

    I agree that the roles that Mo’Nique and Denzel (Training Day) weren’t necessarily the most positive people. However art is art why not explore darker characters and storylines. The character of Mary is a humanized villian. Some of the best films feature humanized villians from Hannibal to Michael Colorne to Scarface to even Dolores Claiborne. And the list goes on. As a man of color in the movie biz I do agree there needs to be more diversity on the screen in terms of character range in film. But that doesn’t negate the stories of dark negative characters whose stories help strenghten the fabric of African American cinema.

  • Nichole Sampson

    I agree! Ironic how Monique gets an award for a role where she abused her own, and Sandra Bullock is awarded for saving a poor lost black boy…interesting. It is unfortunate that Blacks seem to get awarded at the oscars for the most dehumanizing portrayals. I recall 36 Mafia getting the award for the song, “It’s hard out here for a pimp.” Its time for a new trend in awarding our African American Actors.