Finally got around to seeing Precious. After weighing mainstream reviews against a handful of contrarieties and spoilers, I thought I knew just what to expect, but my preconceptions were dashed about ten minutes in when I picked up on what no critic of any cultural or political stripe seems to have noticed. The film is camp. A fro-hair shy of John-Waters-in-blackface.
I'm not saying the highminded and bleedy-hearted are wrong to see in the Oprah-endorsed urban picaresque a kind of inspiring underdog story. As the top critics emphasize, Precious has heart. But so did Pink Flamingos. Nor do I mean to suggest that HBD-savvy curmudgeons are being overly cynical to interpret the film as an incest-obsessed paean to the custodial state -- that would be roundly condemned as racist had it been scripted and produced by whitefolk. There's something to both counterpoints, I am certain. But available though it is, this reading seems more tuned to SWPL moodswings than to the content of the reel, which you really have to see for yourself -- preferably after some time has passed, and preferably when you're stoned. The over-the-top schlock giveaways aren't hard to spot; conspicuous clues and cues are on display in several stylized fantasy sequences, one where the titular heroine of limited horizons peacocks before flashing paparazzi in full-on dragshow glitz and pomp (a'la Divine in I forget which one). But the most telling evidence is to be found in the story itself, about which you've already been gratuitously informed. You can play the game of breaking it down; try to re-imagine a few infant-hurling gags played out with melanin-deficient trailertrash mutants standing in. Or you can stop at the detail that gives the game away -- when it's revealed this that a po woe-begotten duckling, raised by wolves and saved by lambs, is baby-mamma to a daddy-sired tard-child named ... Mongo. I shit you not and I rest my case. Lee Daniels knows just what he got away with. Surely an off-broadway musical is in the cards, and I'll be cheering for Gabby and Mo'Nique during my next fabulous Oscar party.
I've got my mind on the movies and the movies on my mind. Still annotating my list.