Saturday, February 06, 2010

Precious Attacked in the NYTimes -- Revolution's Annie Day & Carl Dix Have the Best Defense

Yesterday, Ishmael Reed had an editorial in the NYTimes attacking the movie “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire” called "Fade to White." In it, among other things, he writes, "The blacks who are enraged by “Precious” have probably figured out that this film wasn’t meant for them."

While slightly toned down from his previous attack on Precious, this is an extremely narrow attack on a very powerful and moving piece of art that truly is not about the demonization of Black men, but a work that shines a light on the many ways in which the potential and humanity of young Black women, poor women on welfare, victims of incest and abuse, victims of the American "educational" system, dark-skinnned Black girls are squandered.  As the movie puts it, they are so often viewed as only as "Black grease to be wipe away."

The demonization of Black men is very real, still pervasive, and incredibly crippling.  But, the fact is, anyone interested in ending the ongoing oppression of Black men and Black people generally, or of any oppressed people, needs to grasp that this only can be done through a revolution that breaks all the chains.  Including the chains that bind women.  This does not "get in the way" -- but is essential.

As Bob Avakian has put it, "In many ways, particularly for men, the oppression of women and whether you seek to completely abolish or to preserve the existing property and social relations and the corresponding ideology that enslave women (or maybe 'just a little bit' of them) is a touchstone question among the oppressed themselves. It is a dividing line between 'wanting in' and really 'wanting out': between fighting to end all oppression and exploitation—and the very division of society into classes—and seeking in the final analysis to get your part in this."

In this light, the polemic that Carl Dix and Annie Day wrote for Revolution Newspaper against Ishmael Reed's attacks on “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire” is a MUST-READ.  An excerpt:

The other thing that stands out in Reed's article is the way he talks about women generally. He refers to young Black women professors who have commented positively on Precious at the web zine The Root as "...[T]he types who are using university curriculum to get even with their fathers." He suggests that the poet and author Sapphire and the filmmaker Lee Daniels have falsely remembered histories of abuse. He hardly ever mentions a woman without saying something about her looks. Mariah Carey, who plays a welfare case worker, is 'firm,' 'the camera favors' Paula Patton, who plays Precious' teacher, Blue Rain; he says three times that the actress who plays Precious is 350 pounds (a fact which he is clearly bothered by), and he describes one of the film's financial backers as 'manicured' and 'buffed,' and one who 'doesn't go lightly on the eye shadow.' And in linking Oprah Winfrey's backing of this film with what he sees as her other efforts to demean Black men, including backing and starring in The Color Purple (which he calls a 'black incest product'), he quotes someone as saying, 'like her addiction to food,' Oprah can't help demonizing Black men.

"His defense of patriarchy also bubbles over in relation to gay people. Here he gets the basic facts of the film wrong. He says a male nurse, John John, played by Lenny Kravitz, is gay. In actuality, the film makes clear that John John is straight, but Reed's vision is so distorted he can't seem to fathom a soft-spoken male character who isn't gay. He goes on to say Precious is 'a film in which gays are superior to Black male heterosexuals,' creating some sort of patriarchal totem pole and then seeking to determine where 'his group' sits in relation to the top."

 Day and Dix go on to get to the roots of the real history of emasculation of Black men, the depth of the oppression of  Black people in U.S. society throughout history and today, but also the ways in which there needs to be a rupture with the identity of manhood and a need for emancipators of humanity.  They have the deepest analysis that is out there of the contradictions brought to light in this movie and raised by Reed in his criticisms, the most revolutionary resolution to how the liberation of women and the liberation all oppressed people are entirely bound up with each other -- they are not at odds -- they are both essential and can only be achieved through communist revolution.

It is a movement for precisely THIS revolution that the RCP is building.  It is THIS movement for THIS revolution that people need to get involved with if you are sick of seeing Black men demonized and brutalized and women disrespected and discarded and a whole world built on exploitation, wars for empire and torture.

Read the whole thing:

The Controversy over PRECIOUS: The Demonization of Black Men? Or, Shining a Light on the Squandered Potential of "Precious Girls Everywhere" and Why Everyone Should Want That Realized

posted by Sunsara Taylor at 11:46 AM


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