Precious: Based on the Story of Racism

It’s still another 3 months until the Oscars are handed out, but naturally buzz is building around certain films. I recently saw Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire, a real contender that’s holding an impressive 91% on Rotten Tomatoes and garnered high acclaim at Sundance, TIFF, and Cannes. Precious portrays a year in the life of Claireece “Precious” Jones, an obese teenager growing up in Harlem in the late ’80s. I won’t record all the sordid details of her life — the molestations, pregnancies, diseases, handicaps, abuses, etc — but suffice to say that life is pretty shit for Precious. It’s a gripping viewing experience, albeit difficult to watch (multiple viewings are out of the question), and the acting by the leads is beyond reproach. Mo’Nique’s (Precious’ mother) final monologue is absolute killer and she deserves an Oscar nod for those minutes alone.

There are several problems here, a few of which started to surface while I was watching. Early on, I distinctly remember thinking, “This would be a terrible film to show to racists.” Some of my questions were further muddled by two writers who are among the few to categorically denigrate Precious. They are, respectively, “Pride & Precious” by Armond White, and “Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire” by Ed Gonzalez. [if you only read one of the two, read White’s]

Let me state up front that I am deliberately choosing to interact with two other writers because I do not feel capable on my own. As a privileged white male, I’m going to confess ignorance at the start and admit that I have more questions here than answers. However, even I have to start to wonder about rave reviews given to a film that unabashedly portrays an obese black girl stealing a bucket of fried chicken and devouring every piece herself. (more…)

Konichiwa Khap

I’m back in Bangkok again and thought I’d give a brief trip report about my time in/on Okinawa. It was a really excellent break from Thailand and I had a great time, even with less-than-ideal weather (typhoon-induced rain for 60+ hours, etc). One semi-surprising treat was the flight leg between BKK & Narita on All Nippon Airways. At a time when American airlines are starting to charge you for daring to bring luggage, it was nice to be back on an Asian airline that gave great service reminiscent of the Cathay Pacific trips I took as a child. Except now I get Haagen-Dazs, alcohol & a “personal entertainment system” instead of crayons and a coloring book.

(As always, click here to skip to the Flickr photo sets)

As mentioned before, Mike and I spent the first few days up north at picturesque Okuma: