Monday, November 16, 2009
A Shout Out for 'Precious' and Lee Daniels
Lee Daniels, the director of 'Precious,' likes to cut against the grain. That's what stayed with me after I got through the piece in the October 25 NY Times Magazine, The Audacity of 'Precious,': Is America Ready for a Movie About An Obese Harlem Girl Raped and Impregnated by Her Abusive Father? I had forgotten that he did 'The Woodsman,' and 'The Shadowboxer' with Cuba Gooding and Helen Mirren (interesting mix, yes?). I had intended to see both but never did. It's clear -- Daniels is a straight up, gutsy, keep-on-getting up dude who likes to mix it up. He is committed to getting his voice out there, and all the blocking from Hollywood couldn't bring him down. His story left me feeling empowered to take bold up a notch.
I saw the film too. Hard to witness but wonderful, and I especially liked that African-Americans could be the heroines to address the wrongs of other African-Americans. I'd like a sequel, one that widens the story of the mother and reveals that she too can be redeemed.
But before I could settle into my seat I had to deal with my feelings about the 4 and 5 years old children some Black mothers brought to the theater. Why do these young children need to be exposed to this battering that I know is going to be hard for me as an adult to watch? And later during the film showing, I felt sad and angry when one of those mothers, clearly irritated, told her daughter "Shut up," as they were walking out because she was crying. I always tell myself that the issue is a babysitter, that it's not that easily come by for some mothers. But still...I found myself wondering about the young boy a few seats down from me, riveted to the screen. How is he putting this together in his head, how is he feeling? Will there be a conversation later to help him make 5 years old sense of this?
Joy DeGruy,who came up with the concept of Post-Traumatic Slave Syndrome, http://www.joydegruy.com, suggests that our children are not our children but they should be. I kept thinking, how can I address this, certainly not right then in the theater, but how? How can our community provide guidance to parents on the ways of nurturing and protecting children? It's a question worth asking.
Photo courtesy of IMDb.com