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The Making of “Precious” pt.9

by Ishmael Reed

Both directors and all of the screen writers for this movie are white men.
I recommend that they an Oprah read William Bascom”s “ Sixteen
Cowries, Yoruba Divination From Africa To The New World.”

This kind of ridiculing of black culture is nothing new for Disney. In a 1932 cartoon Mickey and Minnie were pitted against “fierce niggers.”

The opinions of black movie goers about Precious probably concur with those of White and Courtland Milloy. Courtland Milloy of The Washington Post wrote:

“I watched the movie at a theater in Alexandria where showtimes are nearly around the clock, from 10:15 a.m. to 12:15 a.m. The audience was mostly black women and teenagers. When the lights came up, all of the moviegoers appeared sullen and depressed that I attended.”

Milloy continued:

“After escaping the abuse of her home life, Precious ends up in a halfway house. She is still functionally illiterate and has two babies to care for, one with Down syndrome.

“Strangest of all, many reviewers felt the movie ended on a high note. Time, for instance, wrote that Precious “makes an utterly believable and electrifying rise from an urban abyss of ignorance and neglect.

“Excuse me, the movie ends with the girl walking the streets, babies in her arms, having just learned that her father has died of AIDS — but not before infecting her.”

As a weak justification, and following the prompting of Geoffrey Gilmore, Lee Daniels told the Times interviewer that he was mindful that the movie contained stereotypes but that was ok because we have a black president, which must thrill the birthers, the tea baggers, those who create posters in which Obama appears as witchdoctor, a Muslim and the joker. On Nov.23 some wingnut put up a picture of Michelle Obama as a monkey at Goggle. The haters of the Obama must really feel in vogue thanks to Daniels.

Another part of the pitch is that the men in the film could be men of any ethnic group a sales pitch used by Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage for her theatrical products, praised by some the same types who are crazy about Precious. Atlanta Constitution columnist Cynthia Tucker received a Pulitzer for referring to black men as “idle” and “bestial” and they awarded Janet Cooke one for making up a story about black parents who were so rotten that they made heroin available to an eight year old, over the objection of a black panelist who smelled a fraud. Three great playwrights, Adrienne Kennedy, Ed Bullins and Amiri Baraka have never received a Pulitzer. These black men on the screen or on the stage doing terrible things to women could be Bosnians so the line goes.

Ishmael Reed is an award-winning novelist, author & essayist. He was born in Tennesse & raised in Buffalo NY and is a former journalist for the Buffalo Challenger. His next book “Barack Obama and the Jim Crow Media: the Return of the Nigger Breakers” will be published in the Spring by Baraka publishers of Quebec. He is the editor of Konch. He can be reached at:

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