PRECIOUS, The Controversy

Precious finally hits Mzansi theatres and it looks set to win some award at the Oscars though Im not convinced that it will win Best Picture. The movie has been received well by audiences all over the world but it has not escaped the wrath of criticism too.

Most notably is the disqualification of media mogul BFFs, O and TP. Academy Award officials have ruled that Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry, who signed on as executive producers of Precious after the movie was completed, are not eligible to receive Oscars should the picture win. 

The reason being that they only signed on as producers after the movie was shot thus offering their celebrity cloud to boost the movie’s profile and annoying industry insiders and critics alike. 

The problem with this is more that just sentiments but to be fair a lot of gripe with this is sentimental. For a producer to sign on to produce a movie means he/she has to believe in the material. That would generally mean they put their money in before the production starts thus enabling the production team to have financial backup. 

Oprah and Perry’s suspiciously calculated involvement in the movie raises eyebrows as it is seen as a ploy to cash in on other people’s work. It’s also worrying that the original producers, Sarah Siegal-Magnes and Gary Magnes with Lee Daniels will be sidelined even though it was their tireless work and believe in the telling of this story that got Precious to where it is today. 

Lee Daniels will still get the glory as a director but as for the other two, their names are being overshadowed by the power brand names of Oprah and Perry.

To add salt to the wound the movie has been dubbed as an Oprah Movie, leaving some to even think that the queen of talk is actually acting in it. It’s evident that the Oprah power machine will bring in huge number of audiences and big bucks for the movie but should she and Perry be given an Oscar just for putting their celebrity weight behind the project?

Further controversy with the movie comes from its not so warm reception among many black critics and intellectuals. The movie has been accused of perpetuating black stereotypes by exhibiting black ghetto tragedy and female disempowerment as the raw truth of African American existence in the US.

I personally had an issue with the depiction of black people in mainstream Hollywood especially when it comes to movies that the industry choose to take note of. There has been many well made black produced films that have come up over the years but were ignored. 

Halle Berry only got recognized for her work in the movie “Monsters Ball” which was produced in part by Lee Daniels. My gripe with Halle’s Oscar win was that of all the great performances we’ve had by black women in Hollywood did it really have to take Halle Berry to show off her tits and do a raunchy nude scene for the Academy to notice that a black woman deserves a Best Actress nod?

The other thing that I have come to be concerned with when it comes to Precious is that, in a world where race relations are so fragile, it does in some way uncomfortably seem exploitive.

I see white audiences especially those we’ve seen during Obama’s race to the White House blatantly discrediting black people as nothing but loafers, criminals and savages rejoicing at seeing the virile barbarism of blacks depicted in this movie.

A black man's image has been tainted enough as it is. These racist narrow-minded airheads will enjoy this movie as it will give them a sense of moral superiority and validate their racist beliefs

Having said all that, let’s not forget that this movie is a masterpiece that deserves all the glory it gets. However one needs to look at both sides of the fence sometimes even if it means putting a dent, small as it may be, on a beautiful canvas.

As for Oprah and Tyler Perry, I would love to believe you backed this movie because you believe in it’s message to the world and it’s credibility in cinematic excellence not because of the potential monetary incentive you will get out of it.

If the latter is the fact then SHAME ON YOU for exploiting your black brothers and sisters to soothe your vanity and greed.

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