“Precious” A Non-Intuitive Christmas Movie

by francine Hardaway on December 6, 2009

Precious is showing in limited release in Phoenix.  I guess that's code for "we don't have a very large black population." But at the mall where I saw it today, it has been playing in three theaters for a month. And although I went to see it on one of the biggest Christmas shopping days of the season, the theatre was full at 2 PM. Precious has allure. And that's because it shows the victory of the human spirit over some of the worst life circumstances I've ever seen.

Clareece "Precious" Jones (Gabourey "Gabbie" Sidibe) is an illiterate pregnant overweight teen-ager who has been raped by her father and has been impregnated twice. She sits in school dreaming about being lighter-skinned and escaping to a better future, but she never even speaks in school.  At home, her mother (Mo' Nique) beats her and orders her around. Precious' first child was born with Down's Syndrome and is named "Mongo." Precious's mother, a welfare queen, "cares" for Precious and her child because it enlarges her check for Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC). In fact, Mongo doesn't even live with Precious and her mother, but is kept by the grandmother, who brings her over when the social worker appears, so the worker thinks there is an intact home.  In between social worker visits, the mother is careful to reinforce to Precious that she's dumb and can never be anything, because she needs Precious for the welfare. To make things more complicated, the mother is jealous of Precious because her boyfriend rapes Precious. The situation couldn't be much more disgusting.

Precious has never been to a doctor, and never had a friend. And then a random school principal goes to her house and tells her she's been thrown out of ordinary school because she's pregnant again, but is eligible for an alternative school called "Each One Teach One."  This changes Precious' life forever, and turns a drama that's tough to watch into something that leaves you in the Christmas spirit.

I'm sure most people I know cannot identify with Precious.  But since I already know my foster daughter at age 7 was made to carry cocaine under her tongue from a dealer to her mother, and steal food to eat while her mother and father sold the food stamps for drugs, I think I'm convinced there are families this disfunctional. My foster daughter also told me her parents had intimate relations in front of her, and also fought bitterly in front of all their children. Physically. Luckily, she's a grown woman now with a child of her own, and she didn't have it at age 16 (when she got pregnant as a teen, I took her to Planned Parenthood and she still thanks me).

Ironically, the working title of my book on foster parenting "Foster Mom" was "each one reach one." The people who made this movie know what I have already discovered: you help people one life at a time.

Posted via email from Not Really Stealthmode

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

nilandmortimer December 21, 2009 at 2:09 pm

Precious touched me deeply, too, even though I cannot even imagine identifying with such hateful life circumstances. But I did spend a year working with a men's group at a drug treatment center in Manhattan and heard many stories from young men that nearly matched Precious's wretchedness. Precious is also a reminder, whenever we're feeling low and depressed, that our lives are princely in comparison to many many people in our own country and the world. This is a film about the triumph of hope, of education and even luck. I wish everyone could see it this holiday season.

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