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Precious and Ideology

Probably one of the hardest movies to watch for a person of any race or culture is the film ‘Precious’.  It was released in 2009 and really capture the public’s attention with the harsh realities of one poor African American’s life.  However what is the film really saying about the life of Claireece P. “Precious” Jones?  Upon closer examination, ‘Precious,’ although a heart wrenching film–only takes the view of a poor black family in the ghetto of Harlem and thus this is our view of African American families despite our knowledge of successful and middle/upper class families.  Precious’ life calls extreme attention to no income families, abuse physically, mentally, and sexually, as well as the struggle for a 16 year old that is illiterate and pregnant with her second child.

This film probably appeals to the American public because it isn’t our life.  What I mean is, the majority of the public that is going to the movie theater to see films like ‘Precious’ are the ones that can afford it and thus are mostly likely not in the extreme situation that Claireece faces in her life.  The public goes into the theater wanting to be educated and to feel sorry about the life that isn’t theirs.  When they leave the theater, yes there is remorse for the people who have life’s like Caireeces’ but at the same time there is a sense of relief, because that is not the majority of middle class societies life.  Middle class doesn’t have to face being raped by their father, beaten by their mother, being illiterate and pregnant at 16.
The ideology presented in Precious is first a poor black family, which gives the notion that, that is the only way of life for African Americans, as well as that no white family has ever gone through the same struggle.

The next part that adds to a more white as superior view is the fact that Claireece wants to be a star and be on covers of magazines.  But as a culture we reject the idea of a poor obese African American on the cover of say Cosmopolitan or Vogue, because the only girls to get on the cover of those are skinny, middle to upper class women.  And very rarely is it of someone of a different race.  the next idea presented in the video is that Precious can’t really help herself, he needs a catalyst.  Now she finds that catalyst in her well educated lighter skinned teacher.  There is underlined idea that only the well educated can help the uneducated.  Although Claireece does decide to get out of her bad home situation she still need the help of her pretty (Mariah Carey) teacher and the white welfare worker.  I think all the things that go into this movie; Claireece’s situation, her dreams, and the people that help her find a way out, all suggest a ‘white ideal.’

The idea that with education, the help of the pretty and well educated you can get out of the ghettos of New York and thrive.  the ideology presented in ‘Precious’ gives the public the idea that all African American families are poor, uneducated, live an abusive life, and need the help of the educated to get out of the situation.  However this is not the life of all black families.

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Kathleen
    October 1, 2011 at 7:57 pm

    Allison, this is a good starting point, and your meaning can be inferred from what you say, but could you be more specific about the ideology used in this film? It’s unclear when you say, “The ideology presented in Precious is first a poor black family, which gives the notion that, that is the only way of life for African Americans, as well as that no white family has ever gone through the same struggle.”

    Also, when making statements such as, “But as a culture we reject the idea of a poor obese African American on the cover of say Cosmopolitan or Vogue, because the only girls to get on the cover of those are skinny, middle to upper class women. And very rarely is it of someone of a different race,” please use either quotations from the book or cite an outside source to back up your claim.

    No re-write required this time, but in the future please give more thought to the organization of your ideas. Please add a comment with a link to a review of the film. Thanks!

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