Sapphire Interviewed by Katie Couric About “Precious”

Hat tip to What About Our Daughters? (WAOD)

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Some quarters of the black community are up in arms about this film (and have their oyster knives out for Tyler Perry’s adaptation of Ntozake Shange’s For Colored Girls… coming next year.) They say that almost all of Precious Jones’ helpers are almost all light-skinned; that it appears director and producer Lee Daniels–notorious for Monster’s Ball–is saying and depicting that physical, mental/emotional and sexual abuse within the black family is still the norm; that the film’s outlook is unremittingly harsh, especially for black women as well as for black men. It seems almost like the kind of anger that was generated by Alice Walker’s The Color Purple, both book and Spielberg film. Walker was said not to be pleased with Color Purple the film; she was happier with the Broadway show that was produced by Oprah Winfrey.

So what does Sapphire have to say about her book and the film? I saw part of the interview on Couric’s CBS Evening News program earlier this week, and it was pretty interesting. I’m not going to say anything because I haven’t seen the flick yet, but people are welcome to watch this interview, compare notes, and compare the book with the film.

Precious is not playing yet in Madison, WI.

~ by blksista on November 15, 2009.

2 Responses to “Sapphire Interviewed by Katie Couric About “Precious””

  1. clarifying a comment below: Lee did not criticize Perry (co-producer of Precious) for backing the film Precious but a while back had commented on the “buffoonery” in a lot of current black films, perhaps concerned that they portrayed demeaning, slap stick images of black characters that were similar to minstrel shows (or something to that effect). [Hope I am not distorting this.] Perry had responded that his characters were bait to draw the audience into many serious issues. I understood what Mr Lee was getting at but personally didn’t like that he attacked Perry who has worked incredibly hard to bring all kinds of black characters to a wide audience and who was himself homeless prior to writing his plays and making billions. (Hey, someone should make a film about Perry! What he’s done is pretty incredible.) What Lee has done is incredible too but in an entirely different way. What is so disarming about Precious is that it was so realistic and free of political theories. (Perhaps because there were so many political realities.) What I liked about Precious was the pride she had even in the midst of “feeling like nothing.” [My favorite scene: her slap.]

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  2. Not to be corny but Sapphire is a jewel, one in a million. I just saw the film, one of the best films I’ve ever seen. Monique and the lead who played Precious and in fact everyone in the film were incredible. This was a hundred times better than Monster’s Ball which I hated. As for the comments about light skinned helpers-yes filmmakers should try to cast deep, dark black women in varied roles, not just “lights and whites:” but it’s nonetheless a superb movie, not the usual Hollywood “schlach,” thanks to Sapphire for originally writing such an insightful story. I have been a fan of Monique for some time as a comic; her incredible acting in this film proves that actors should not be categorized or kept in only one area; this was the best acting I have seen since Liv Ulman broke down in that Bergman film: Autumn Sonata; it was equal or better. People say Monique made them hate the mother, but I didn’t hate the mother, even though I hated what she did. She was sick as are many white, black and brown people caught up in abuse and Monique really got inside her character in an astounding way. Of course the daughter would have to get away from someone like that in order to survive but this is different from conclusive hate. As for the comments about depicting the black family as filled with incest, welfare, brutality and so on – it may be true that mainstream white America is still too afraid to expose these things in their own families (except in movies such as Chinatown and so on). But hopefully the audience is intelligent enough to know that this is a universal story not a story depicting blacks as a monolithic group having incestuous, dysfunctional families. Incest occurs in every culture and race. Maybe Hollywood or the forces that be have an agenda and use stories for their own purposes but that should not take away from the talent and honesty of the writers and filmmakers of this story. It takes a lot of courage to speak out about these things. If some whites are too chicken to expose it, that only goes to show there is much courage in the black community when it comes to telling things the way they are. There is tremendous diversity in the black community, and Hollywood should quit stereo typing of course and stop just giving awards out to people who play pimps, incestuous parents and “sluts” only, but the thing is: these complex “villainous” characters often make for incredibly fine acting. Monique and the lead both deserve awards and should get them for this movie, as should future black actors and actresses who play heroic roles of people with great integrity, talent, wealth or whatever as long as there is great acting. (Perhaps playing a hero or goody goody person is harder than playing a flawed character or villain.) (Denzil should have gotten the award for Malcomn X, not Training Day, for example, yet there is something to be said for playing a contradictory,difficult character, and Monique has certainly done it on this one.) This is not a film that’s trying to say men are scum, or black men are scum, or fairy white social workers are great; it is not about that; if anything it exposes the brutality of the entrenched racism/sexism/size-ism? in American imagery. But without being preachy. I hope that Mr Spike Lee will commend TYLER PERRY (and of course Oprah) for producing this film. It has taken the electrifying truth of his own (Spike Lee) early films to a whole new level. I hope he will feel personally proud for being an innovator himself but also proud of Perry, whom he has criticized, for backing such a serious film (with Oprah) that takes such a serious stab at the brutal American system of race, sex, and economic slavery amidst the story of an entirely other topic. Whether you are short, fat, dark, light or raped by a society or a person, in the end it is all the same.

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