Monday, March 15, 2010

I think you're beautiful Gabourey

Thirteen years ago, I pulled a novel from a bin at the library's used book sale and paid one dollar for it. Sapphire's Push immediately engaged me and I didn't put it down until I'd reached the last page.

The book takes stylistic risks, with Precious Jones narrating her own story in a phonetically realistic voice. She is poorly dressed and obese, the sort of person many of us pass on the street and never see. Therein lies the brilliance of the novel. Push puts Claireece Precious Jones and her harrowing life squarely in front of the reader.

If this was difficult and compelling to watch unfold on the page, the trailer for the movie Precious indicated it would be stunning on the screen as well. After much consideration, I decided to take my 12-year-old daughter to see Precious.

"I was really rooting for Precious," I said as we talked about the movie on the way home.

"Me too," said Jessie.

I was bowled over by Gabourey Sidibe's portrayal of Precious. If possible, she realized Sapphire's vision with near perfection--as someone who is so easy to dismiss, until you really see her. Then she is impossible not to embrace.



To be honest, I had some literary quibbles with the novel, but my respect for the risks it took overwhelmed them. The film has received raves as well as scathing criticism for being "a strange combination of liberal guilt and condescension," which is a point well taken.

I apologize that I cannot find the link now, but one of the reviews I read took issue with Precious's weight saying something to the effect of must she be so fat that her face is distorted? Then darling Howard Stern chimed in last week with his obnoxious comments about Sidibe.

I was infuriated by this stupidity. Don't these morons realize that the driving force of Precious is a main character who is the antithesis of Gwyneth Paltrow and Reese Witherspoon? Her physical size is symbolic. It's one of the reasons she will not be denied. Whether you're on the pick or pan side of the reviews, that ambition deserves respect.

As for Sidibe, I think you're beautiful, Gabourey. Now go bury the likes of Stern with a long and illustrious career.

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9 comments:

Bill said...

I haven't seen the movie but have seen Gabourey interviewed a couple of times and am impressed with her. What a great personality and, obviously, she's talented. But, face it, she's way too fat. There are limited roles for her but that's not the main problem. If she stays that fat she'll be unhealthy and/or unhappy. There's nothing good about being that fat. She hit the lottery, getting that role. I hope she uses this temporary high to get healthy rather than continue her bad habits. I saw her, after the Oscars, say that, one of the first things she was going to do was hit the chic filet franchise real hard. I don't know what chic filet is but I'm quite sure it's not a weight loss program.

Chrissy said...

hmmm i haven't seen the movie but have seen her on tv.. distorted? naw, whoever said that has distorted views... maybe they should take a look in the mirror! also consider the source that said she is distorted..lol

Bridget Callahan said...

There's been a couple good threads about this at Jezebel as well. I think the issue is not whether or not the girl needs to lose weight. It's that the industry has decided she HAS to. If she wants to, fine. No one is saying it wouldn't be healthier. But it's her decision. She doesn't exist as a human being so we can tell her how to look.

Big Mark 243 said...

Isn't all the mess about how Gibourney 'looks' an example of irony?

Bill said...

She wants to be a star!? Better get used to scrutiny. You guys are nuts if you don't think it matters how you look in Hollywood. There are probably 10 TV shows that ONLY talk about this shit. Get real peeps. How do you talk about this girl without discussing how she looks? She definitely would NOT have gotten the role if she looked like Haly (sp?) Berry.

Patty said...

Glad you enjoyed the movie. This post was very intriguing and well written, looking forward to your next one.

swine said...

aiight i'll put my one cent in here. i give a nod to this subject matter/film and think it's ridiculous that there's talk now of her being TOO heavy. whatever; it's like swimming w/sharks when you agree to let Hollywood stick a nasty finger into your project. like one of your commenters up above said: you've gotta be nuts if you don't think this subject will come up. it's still a Hollywood film.

Lee Daniels, the director, is known for "Monster's Ball" mostly. that film got accolades and won Halley Berry an Oscar. that film, in my opinion, was sub-par...punctuated by a truly useless sex scene between Billy Bob and Berry. and while it was visually stimulating for guys to look at Berry, overall, the scene didn't work for me, or fit in...not as long as it was left in. whatever...sex sells. but as someone with some experience in filmmaking it stank of gratuity. if i wanna see porn, i'll go to porn, not to Hollywood's commercial version of it.

and so i'm not a fan of Lee Daniels' he's much of a corporate sellout.

i am a fan of your brother's novel, but i am NOT a fan of the Hollywood version. i am happy, though, that "big name stars" took that project on. but i'd much rather read John's work than see Mike Figgis' film. Or watch Nic Cage act (which by the way, is like sticking needles into my fucking eyeballs).

i don't know if we can find truly independent films in this country; they're at the very least distributed by Hollywood-machine-types, and I gotta believe they'll dirty them up with suggestions.

you know me: long live independent art; un-touched, un-redacted by anyone other than the artist himself/herself.

msprimadonna67 said...

I haven't seen the movie yet, but am very much looking forward to it.

Cindy said...

I hadn't heard of the movie but will look for it. I found your post touching.