With The New Yorker’s Anthony Lane and this magazine’s David Edelstein already bucking critical status quo with mixed-negative assessments of Lee Daniels’ Oscar-contending, Oprah-endorsed Precious, famed New York Press contrarian Armond White must’ve known he had his work cut out for him. His review went up this afternoon, though, and it does not disappoint!
“Shame on Tyer Perry and Oprah Winfrey,” he begins:
“They’ve piggybacked their reps as black success stories hoping to camouflage Precious’ con job—even though it’s more scandalous than their own upliftment trade. Perry and Winfrey naively treat Precious’ exhibition of ghetto tragedy and female disempowerment as if it were raw truth. It helps contrast and highlight their achievements as black American paradigms—self-respect be damned.”
Also, Precious is apparently the worst thing since a white-supremacy-promoting D. W. Griffith silent film from 1915:
Not since The Birth of a Nation has a mainstream movie demeaned the idea of black American life as much as Precious. Full of brazenly racist clichés (Precious steals and eats an entire bucket of fried chicken), it is a sociological horror show. Offering racist hysteria masquerading as social sensitivity, it’s been acclaimed on the international festival circuit that usually disdains movies about black Americans as somehow inartistic and unworthy.
But he’s just getting warmed up! Check this out:
Excellent recent films with black themes—Next Day Air, Cadillac Records, Meet Dave, Norbit, Little Man, Akeelah and the Bee, First Sunday, The Ladykillers, Marci X, Palindromes, Mr. 3000, even back to the great Beloved (also produced by Oprah)—have been ignored by the mainstream media and serious film culture while this carnival of black degradation gets celebrated.
Pride & Precious [NYP]