The film, Precious; based on the novel Push by Sapphire.
I have not read the book, but have seen the film. Check out the link below; but be forewarned, this is NOT an easy film clip to watch and neither is the film itself.
Personally speaking, I have read many memoirs in which the narrator describes horrific events of which they have survived, namely abuse of one kind or another. Or they have survived tragic circumstances and are inspiring in their will to live and/or learn from their experiences. I have always believed that we all have stories to tell, and if we can, we should tell them. A personal story is unique and often illustrates the indomitable spirit of survival, in ordinary lives.
Now here is my dilemma of sorts and one with which I have struggled with of late. I think that some personal stories are better left untold. This is a paradox for me because of past beliefs that everyone has a story, regardless of who you are. As a reader and a cinephile, I’ve never shied away from horrific or disturbing story lines, because let’s face it, ever and again, such is life. (However – not a fan of gratuitous violence!) Perhaps I’m getting too old to appreciate this fact any longer. Perhaps it’s because I’m a mother whose child is on the brink of adulthood. Or it may be that I’m simply fed up with the knowledge of the evil we are capable of as human beings. Often I am astounded at the utter cruelty with which we can wield power over another human being, especially our children. I think we have all known parents who have been abusive to their children. Yet what continues to appall, is the length and breadth of abuse that some people, are capable of. This fact profoundly alarms me. I don’t believe myself to be naive. Indeed not much surprises me about the depravity of certain people. On the other hand, discussing abuse of any kind, is a very touchy subject that most sane people would rather not broach. Who can blame them? In the past, I have been able to read about abuse and somewhat detach myself emotionally from what I was reading. Call it self-preservation. Yet I have never been indifferent to such facts of life. In films, I have maintained the knowledge that what I was seeing, however graphic, or based on truth, was only a film. In fact, it became a mantra, to safeguard my sense of sanity, and grounded-ness.
The point of this article (and I do have one; bear with me) is in direct relation to the film, in that many levels of abuse happen in this film to the character of Precious. The primary abuser is Precious’ own mother, played by Mo’Nique, an American comedienne and actress (who incidentally, recently won for Best Supporting Actress for this particular role). The abuse takes place from early infancy to adolescence, and finally to the end. What I find disturbing, is not merely the abuse itself (as if that weren’t horrific enough) but that the abuse happens, period. That as human beings we allow children like Precious to be victimized time and again, and do little, if nothing, to end it. Herein lies my dilemma, although true stories like these have their place (and are no less important), yet I think I will now choose not to read these particular stories nor see films of this nature. Of course I wasn’t aware of the extent of the abuse before I saw the film. Now that I know, it just makes me sad. This world simply has too much sorrow, this is a fact of life. Finally I’ve come to the point where I just won’t spend my time seeing films of this genre anymore.
I believe in causes. I believe that if I call myself a member of the human race, I have a certain obligation and responsibility to my fellow-man, which is to lend a hand when I can. Although you can stand for a cause and defend it and do all you can to bring awareness and help to ease people’s suffering, in the end, there is just so much one can do without feeling overwhelmed to the point of staggering astonishment. I suppose all you can do is be empathic, compassionate and aware.
I have posted this film and novel not so much to hail it, but simply to illustrate that some stories are hard to witness. Some stories will break your heart. Yet I’d rather tackle issues that I know I can change or at least try to change. Ghandi said; “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” I can’t single-handedly stop child abuse. I can’t change the fact that child abuse has gone on since time immemorial. But what I can do is be aware. The film Precious was difficult to watch on a personal level and in the future I won’t be watching films like these anymore. Although I don’t believe I’m burying my head in the sand, nor do I believe I am ignorant about life’s realities, the point is that I choose not to put horrific images into my head (and ultimately into my heart) any longer. Regrettably my head and heart are already filled with too many such images to last me many lifetimes.
And this, folks, is the word.