I saw the movie Precious, but what about her mother, Mary?

I am my mother’s daughter and my mother is the daughter of my grandmother. And both their stories and silences speak through me.

I begin with this mantra because spiritually and mentally I desperately need to understand why tears stained and wrinkled my cheeks as I watched the movie Precious. Yes, I am a Cancer and have been known to wear my heart on my sleeve, but there was something so violent and painful about how Lee Daniels portrayed Precious’ mother that tears could only convey my ill ease and anger. Mind you, there are many critiques I could write about the movie. However, I think summer’s Lost in Translation: A Response to Precious gets at the root of why so many people like myself wanted to storm out of the theater babbling among many things, “I can’t stand Tyler Perry’s @s$ who makes millions off of black women being damaged.” So, if you want to read a good critique, please read summer’s Lost in Translation. I guess I should also say that I have not read Push by Sapphire and all my comments are in response to the movie, Precious.

So, I begin by asking the question, what if the movie Precious was not told from the point of view of Precious, but told from the point of view of Mary. I know many of you are scratching your heads asking, “Who’s Mary?” Well, Mary is Precious’ mother. I think it is important that we know the name of the woman who is “solely” responsible for making her daughter overweight, infecting her daughter with HIV, allowing her father to rape her, and forcing her to quit school to get welfare. Given all of this, I think it is important to know the name of Precious’ mother, Mary.

Yes, I know that the purpose of the movie was to tell the daughter’s story. But, as I watched Mary silence, physically abuse, and sexually sodomize her daughter, all I could think about as tears flowed was Mary’s story and how she became who she was. What were the political, social, cultural, and economic forces “intersecting” to shape how she saw her daughter and how she saw herself? Mary is not one dimensional in the sense of simply being organically evil. But, Lee Daniels—as he also did in Monster’s Ball—did a good, downright extraordinary job of painting her as such, ignoring the many structural and cultural forces at play during the 70s and 80s that made the image of the black welfare queen palatable and punitive.

Of course, at the end of the movie you get a small glimpse of Mary’s humanity. It is seen in the scene where she is talking with the social worker. What I read between the lines from Mary’s potential red gumball moment was that she was stuck between a man and a baby girl, figuratively and literally. And she had to make a choice. For many women, this dilemma is not unique especially since we live in a patriarchal heterosexist society that privileges the lives, experiences, and beliefs of men and women who abide by those experiences and beliefs. And of course, once we add into the mix issues of race and class, the choices women make are not always June Cleaver and Claire Huxtable types of choices. And this is not to say that June Cleaver and Claire Huxtable choices are the right choices either. All that I am saying is that I want people to see Mary, a black mother, in context and not as some new age Terminator seeking only to annihilate her black daughter, Precious.

But, the movie does not allow you to emphasize with Mary. As summer points out Mary is always cloaked in darkness and even her mother shakes her head in righteous disapproval. So, everybody in the theater cheers with unadulterated glee to see Precious kick Mary’s @s$. They are delighted by the blood that drips from Mary’s face. Outwardly and inwardly they feel completely justified in their hate and loathing of Mary. And let’s be honest, in many ways Lee Daniels did not have to go to the extremes of making the audience hate Mary. They would have hated or at least seen her as deviant regardless because she was single black mother on welfare. So, it was a “walk in the park” for Lee Daniels. All he did was to activate the many negative images we have of black mothers to legitimize our hate of Mary.

Perhaps, my obsession with wanting to know Mary’s story is based on me wanting to know Sandra’s story which informs my story because I am Sandra’s daughter. We grew up on welfare. My father beat my mother senseless. My mother dated many different men including my sister’s father who was a drug dealer. We had spotty health insurance . . .  just went to the dentist last week after a 12 year hiatus (no cavities!!!). We lived with our grandmother who shook her head in righteous dissent of my mother’s “lifestyle.” And yet, Sandra, my black mother, loved us her three black daughters and told us, “It’s my job to raise three independent girls. Have your own stuff and don’t depend on any man to help you. You see what is wrong with children now-a-days is that their parents spoil them. Hey, I told y’all, y’all have to get the hell away from me and do for yourselves and look y’all have done that and that makes me proud.” You see, it’s possible for black mothers to love their daughters even in conditions that society labels as the most damned conditions or when they do not always choose the choices of June Cleaver and Claire Huxtable.

And I now know and knew somewhat as a child why my mother acted the ways she did. She was told as all little black girls are told: “You’re beautiful light skinned black girl and because you’re beautiful people will buy you things for you, Sandy.”  She was told as all women are told: “Prince Charming will come and take care of you.” She was told as all working class people of color are told: “Just get a diploma and you will find a good job.” She was told as all women are told: “Don’t have too many women around they’re take your man and some of them are gay.” She was told as all abused women are told : “I hit you but I love you.” She was told many things that hid and cloaked intersecting systems of racism, sexism, heterosexism, and capitalism. Is this to say that Sandra and Mary are angels? No, but it is to say that we have to see the context of what shapes our mothers’ behaviors. Does it hurt less? No. But does it help the healing process? Yes. And this is what the film, Precious, lacked for Mary—context, healing, and redemption. Does redemption mean that Mary and Precious sing Kummbaya at the end of the film? No, but it does mean that Mary is not seen as the originator of evil. You see, it’s this constant negative portrayal of black mothers in the media that makes my heart search for Mary’s story because there is a purpose albeit a political project behind casting black mothers as deviant and beyond redemption.

All that I can say as I wipe away the many tears that stain my brown cheek is that I saw the movie Precious, but what about her mother, Mary.

  • Yvonne

    Fallon, I have resisted watching Precious, because of my pre-conceived ideas of what it might be…after years of unforgiving, unflattering, dehumnaizing depictions of Black women and mothers, I didn’t have the desire to see more of the same (this is the impression I got from the movie trailers). I’ve been told that I am mistaken about my preconceptions, and have not given this film a chance.

  • Yvonne

    Fallon, I have resisted watching Precious, because of my pre-conceived ideas of what it might be…after years of unforgiving, unflattering, dehumnaizing depictions of Black women and mothers, I didn’t have the desire to see more of the same (this is the impression I got from the movie trailers). I’ve been told that I am mistaken about my preconceptions, and have not given this film a chance.

  • Lynn

    This was very deep and I haven’t watched the movie but the trailer made me wonder about Mary as well. Why is she so angry towards precious? What happen to her to be so attacking & defensive? I agree that they should go deeper into the story. Tyler Perry has come a long way but I pray he doesn’t loose his foundation, the message of forgiveness, love, hope….CHRIST!. I was skeptical because he was working with Oprah who EVERYONE knows that she believes Christ is not the ONLY way, that is a whole different topic but relevant. I can relate to your blog because I see Mary all the time, at the grocery store, at work, at church and the laundry mat. I have lived with part of Mary’s characteristics and have somewhat been Mary. Although people put on a movie and look for numbers, dollar signs and high ratings, there are some who really seek the message and intent of what the writer is or was trying to say, better yet, what they don’t say. I am glad that you posted this. It encourages me to continue to speak the truth to my teen daughter and the youth around me. We spend too much time and energy focusing on the negative outward “appearance” when our inward man is silently screaming “There is a method to the madness!” I see Mary’s everyday and the one’s that I personally know wasn’t born that way. Something died on the inside. We need more of us bringing life to our nation; we have enough perverted depictions and fallacies of black woman. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

  • Lynn

    This was very deep and I haven’t watched the movie but the trailer made me wonder about Mary as well. Why is she so angry towards precious? What happen to her to be so attacking & defensive? I agree that they should go deeper into the story. Tyler Perry has come a long way but I pray he doesn’t loose his foundation, the message of forgiveness, love, hope….CHRIST!. I was skeptical because he was working with Oprah who EVERYONE knows that she believes Christ is not the ONLY way, that is a whole different topic but relevant. I can relate to your blog because I see Mary all the time, at the grocery store, at work, at church and the laundry mat. I have lived with part of Mary’s characteristics and have somewhat been Mary. Although people put on a movie and look for numbers, dollar signs and high ratings, there are some who really seek the message and intent of what the writer is or was trying to say, better yet, what they don’t say. I am glad that you posted this. It encourages me to continue to speak the truth to my teen daughter and the youth around me. We spend too much time and energy focusing on the negative outward “appearance” when our inward man is silently screaming “There is a method to the madness!” I see Mary’s everyday and the one’s that I personally know wasn’t born that way. Something died on the inside. We need more of us bringing life to our nation; we have enough perverted depictions and fallacies of black woman. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

  • Veronica

    Fallon, I always enjoy reading your thoughts on anything. I agree totally with you on why film makers should not present one-dimensional characters. Period. (Even the villains in superhero movies have layers and archs (The Joker, The Green Goblin, etc.) But I too have decided to wait for this one to hit Netflix. I read the book as a teenager and compared to the film reviews I have read, Mr. Perry did not disappoint my expectations of him. The way in which I am most disappointed is in how Mary is portrayed in the film. She is no angel in the book but it is clear that she loves her daugther. As all films based on books do, Precious changes the plot details of Push. However one plot change in particular is akin to the Mary character. In Push, Precious is raped by a peer, not her father, and she never tells anyone. By changing the rapist to her father and adding Mary’s condoning of the act, Mary is cast as the purely evil antagonist. Leave it to Perry to add more black-mama-drama than necessary.

  • Veronica

    Fallon, I always enjoy reading your thoughts on anything. I agree totally with you on why film makers should not present one-dimensional characters. Period. (Even the villains in superhero movies have layers and archs (The Joker, The Green Goblin, etc.) But I too have decided to wait for this one to hit Netflix. I read the book as a teenager and compared to the film reviews I have read, Mr. Perry did not disappoint my expectations of him. The way in which I am most disappointed is in how Mary is portrayed in the film. She is no angel in the book but it is clear that she loves her daugther. As all films based on books do, Precious changes the plot details of Push. However one plot change in particular is akin to the Mary character. In Push, Precious is raped by a peer, not her father, and she never tells anyone. By changing the rapist to her father and adding Mary’s condoning of the act, Mary is cast as the purely evil antagonist. Leave it to Perry to add more black-mama-drama than necessary.

  • yashna

    Thanks for your reflection Fallon. I *felt* your tears for Mary in your words.

  • yashna

    Thanks for your reflection Fallon. I *felt* your tears for Mary in your words.

  • Fallon

    @Yvvonne,
    I agree I did not want to see the film either, but happen to go with my friends. I don’ t know how one could not see it as dehumanizing of black women.

    @Lynn,
    Thank you for your comment.

    @Veronica,
    I did not read the book and so I did not know that a friend had raped Precious, but it does add to characterizing the mom as completely evil and un-redeeming.

    @Yashna,
    Thank u sis for always connecting my spirit.

  • Fallon

    @Yvvonne,
    I agree I did not want to see the film either, but happen to go with my friends. I don’ t know how one could not see it as dehumanizing of black women.

    @Lynn,
    Thank you for your comment.

    @Veronica,
    I did not read the book and so I did not know that a friend had raped Precious, but it does add to characterizing the mom as completely evil and un-redeeming.

    @Yashna,
    Thank u sis for always connecting my spirit.

  • Angela

    Fallon thanks so much for writing this. I am so glad that I am getting to know you

  • Angela

    Fallon thanks so much for writing this. I am so glad that I am getting to know you

  • I had already made up my mind I wasn’t going to see the movie. Basically because all of Perry’s movies (even though he says it is not his) tend to be the same, a hate on women. I think he may need to get some sort of counseling on the ill feelings he harbors. I don’t like his movies because they run on basically the same plot line. This is just his time to be blessed. Though I like some things about Oprah I have noticed she favors Black movies that depict the downside of issues depicting Black women and why wasn’t the true author of Push on her show? I can see why she didn’t want to give up her rights to her book.
    I told my three daughters (I reared and home-schooled my daughters as a single parent)the main reason the movie is making such an impact is because it fits into what the world believes a true single parent household is made of and they are happy to have their illusions vilified. Have you noticed most of the faces in the commercials praising the movies are not Black? In my world we are considered ‘different’ and this is even with my immediate family.
    Sorry, I ran on. Thank you for this post and sharing your space. My site is speaklowericanthearyou on blogspot.

  • I had already made up my mind I wasn’t going to see the movie. Basically because all of Perry’s movies (even though he says it is not his) tend to be the same, a hate on women. I think he may need to get some sort of counseling on the ill feelings he harbors. I don’t like his movies because they run on basically the same plot line. This is just his time to be blessed. Though I like some things about Oprah I have noticed she favors Black movies that depict the downside of issues depicting Black women and why wasn’t the true author of Push on her show? I can see why she didn’t want to give up her rights to her book.
    I told my three daughters (I reared and home-schooled my daughters as a single parent)the main reason the movie is making such an impact is because it fits into what the world believes a true single parent household is made of and they are happy to have their illusions vilified. Have you noticed most of the faces in the commercials praising the movies are not Black? In my world we are considered ‘different’ and this is even with my immediate family.
    Sorry, I ran on. Thank you for this post and sharing your space. My site is speaklowericanthearyou on blogspot.

  • Thanks so much for this, Fallon. I saw the movie last night and I agree wholeheartedly with what you’re getting at here. There were so many ways in which this film was an assault on not only black women, but black motherhood specifically (how befitting of a movie set in the 1980s Reagan era). Granted, if I recall correctly, Mary doesn’t have a lot of redeemable moments in the book either. But in the book, the culprit is much more complex and certainly includes the larger social context and system in which Precious heroically pushes through in order to make a better life for herself. In the movie, it seems that Precious doesn’t push through the system; she is saved by it…and all of its light-skinned purveyors who help her to flee from her arbitrarily monstrous mother.

    Again, thanks so much for your critique and for adding your personal story to this. You’ve helped me to see it through a much larger lens.

  • Thanks so much for this, Fallon. I saw the movie last night and I agree wholeheartedly with what you’re getting at here. There were so many ways in which this film was an assault on not only black women, but black motherhood specifically (how befitting of a movie set in the 1980s Reagan era). Granted, if I recall correctly, Mary doesn’t have a lot of redeemable moments in the book either. But in the book, the culprit is much more complex and certainly includes the larger social context and system in which Precious heroically pushes through in order to make a better life for herself. In the movie, it seems that Precious doesn’t push through the system; she is saved by it…and all of its light-skinned purveyors who help her to flee from her arbitrarily monstrous mother.

    Again, thanks so much for your critique and for adding your personal story to this. You’ve helped me to see it through a much larger lens.

  • Fallon

    @Thanks Angela.

    @Nancy,

    Yeah, this is why I wrote the blog because of what people will pull from this movie and all movies that feature single black mother who receive assistance from the gov. as women who are inherently bad and women who do not love their children.I am glad you told your daughters why images like this of black women exist because they do many things in the real world like legitimizes punitive actions against black mothers on welfare. And please, do not apologize for the length of your comment. I enjoyed reading it. And I will definitely stop by you blog too.

    @Jessica,

    Yep, a part of says I should have read the book before I saw the movie. But, I know I would not have made it through the book. I barely made it through the film. I literally wept from the beginning to the end. People sitting with me were worried about my tears, but you know that’s how I process. Well, i hope it does not win an oscar because it was a terrible movie and once again black mothers look like animals, wolves, that “literally” devour their young. And you know in many minds this legitimize control of their bodies and choices. Thanks for you comment.

  • Fallon

    @Thanks Angela.

    @Nancy,

    Yeah, this is why I wrote the blog because of what people will pull from this movie and all movies that feature single black mother who receive assistance from the gov. as women who are inherently bad and women who do not love their children.I am glad you told your daughters why images like this of black women exist because they do many things in the real world like legitimizes punitive actions against black mothers on welfare. And please, do not apologize for the length of your comment. I enjoyed reading it. And I will definitely stop by you blog too.

    @Jessica,

    Yep, a part of says I should have read the book before I saw the movie. But, I know I would not have made it through the book. I barely made it through the film. I literally wept from the beginning to the end. People sitting with me were worried about my tears, but you know that’s how I process. Well, i hope it does not win an oscar because it was a terrible movie and once again black mothers look like animals, wolves, that “literally” devour their young. And you know in many minds this legitimize control of their bodies and choices. Thanks for you comment.

  • kisha

    I haven’t seen the movie but I have read the book.

    From what I gather though not just from this movie but real life experience, Mary’s story, in short Mary is the equivalent of the modern day young american black male, young north african french male, and any other ethnic group that has been screwed over by the man.

    Which is to say that the man wants to draw attention away from what he’s done to us and put the focus on what he’s created, and unfortunately, it is a monster. We already know the story. We already know sexual abuse and violence and neglect are running rampant in our communities. But like you’ve pointed out in the past these are things we don’t talk about, things we try not see.

    Maybe what this movie really was for some people was a chance to finally be able to beat up the monster in their lives.

  • kisha

    I haven’t seen the movie but I have read the book.

    From what I gather though not just from this movie but real life experience, Mary’s story, in short Mary is the equivalent of the modern day young american black male, young north african french male, and any other ethnic group that has been screwed over by the man.

    Which is to say that the man wants to draw attention away from what he’s done to us and put the focus on what he’s created, and unfortunately, it is a monster. We already know the story. We already know sexual abuse and violence and neglect are running rampant in our communities. But like you’ve pointed out in the past these are things we don’t talk about, things we try not see.

    Maybe what this movie really was for some people was a chance to finally be able to beat up the monster in their lives.

  • Carla

    What about all of the other amazing strong women in the film? What about the teacher, the Sherri Shephard character, the classmates in the alternative school? Precious herself was so strong and breaking a chain of abuse that was the result of societal and institutionalized abuse going way back. What an empowering character was Precious, regardless of where the abuse came from. I personally didn’t assume Mary was a monster. I thought she was also a victim, and I empathized with her. I hadn’t read the book, but think the reasons Mary was the way she was were inferred. Perhaps her cruelty was over exaggerated and she could have been portrayed more complex. But what if this film hadn’t been made? It’s too bad so few films like this are made that this one needs to be all things to all people and is not allowed to be flawed. Hopefully it will open the door for more black independent films to be made, and maybe by more women filmmakers.

  • Carla

    What about all of the other amazing strong women in the film? What about the teacher, the Sherri Shephard character, the classmates in the alternative school? Precious herself was so strong and breaking a chain of abuse that was the result of societal and institutionalized abuse going way back. What an empowering character was Precious, regardless of where the abuse came from. I personally didn’t assume Mary was a monster. I thought she was also a victim, and I empathized with her. I hadn’t read the book, but think the reasons Mary was the way she was were inferred. Perhaps her cruelty was over exaggerated and she could have been portrayed more complex. But what if this film hadn’t been made? It’s too bad so few films like this are made that this one needs to be all things to all people and is not allowed to be flawed. Hopefully it will open the door for more black independent films to be made, and maybe by more women filmmakers.

  • I have read Push but have not seen the movie yet. While some problematic aspects of the movie are not reflected in the novel (e.g. the light-skinned back women cast as saviors) I believe that the one-dimensional portrayal of the mother is reflected in the novel itself. I think that we need to critically explore, to what extent these and other similar critiques of Precious (the movie) go beyond the movie and also implicate Saphire and the novel, Push? Does Saphire write Mary as fully human and provide a backstory or context for her abuse of her daugher? I don’t think she does. Similarly, we can also ask: Does the book facilitate healing and complex understanding of incest and sexual abuse or does it too provide a pathological, demonizing and one-dimensional portrait of folks dealing with these issues? Similarly, does Saphire illuminate Precious’ (and Mary’s) own agency — (i.e. their ability to act, resist and heal) or is the narrative only about structural oppression, so-called “family pathology” and the roles that helpful others (e.g. social workers and teachers) play?

    This and the previous blog are all very helpful resources in thinking about and leading discussions on the movie. I would also appreciate blogs that engage the book more.

  • I have read Push but have not seen the movie yet. While some problematic aspects of the movie are not reflected in the novel (e.g. the light-skinned back women cast as saviors) I believe that the one-dimensional portrayal of the mother is reflected in the novel itself. I think that we need to critically explore, to what extent these and other similar critiques of Precious (the movie) go beyond the movie and also implicate Saphire and the novel, Push? Does Saphire write Mary as fully human and provide a backstory or context for her abuse of her daugher? I don’t think she does. Similarly, we can also ask: Does the book facilitate healing and complex understanding of incest and sexual abuse or does it too provide a pathological, demonizing and one-dimensional portrait of folks dealing with these issues? Similarly, does Saphire illuminate Precious’ (and Mary’s) own agency — (i.e. their ability to act, resist and heal) or is the narrative only about structural oppression, so-called “family pathology” and the roles that helpful others (e.g. social workers and teachers) play?

    This and the previous blog are all very helpful resources in thinking about and leading discussions on the movie. I would also appreciate blogs that engage the book more.

  • Re: my last comment, I actually went back and reread Summer’s piece and see that she compared the book and the movie quite a bit in her blog. According to Summer, the movie’s portrayal of Precious’ mother, Mary, is more humanizing (or less monstrous) than how she is depicted in the novel. This suggests the need to take a closer look at Push, the novel, and Saphire’s body of work in a similarly critical way.

  • Re: my last comment, I actually went back and reread Summer’s piece and see that she compared the book and the movie quite a bit in her blog. According to Summer, the movie’s portrayal of Precious’ mother, Mary, is more humanizing (or less monstrous) than how she is depicted in the novel. This suggests the need to take a closer look at Push, the novel, and Saphire’s body of work in a similarly critical way.

  • Miss V

    I understand where you are coming from however i disagree with you for the most part. First of all, this is a Lee Daniels movie, not a Tyler Perry movie. Secondly, the auther wrote about Precious not about Mary. Mary did NOT love her daughter. Love does not hurt and what Mary did showed no love but pure hate. In fact, she tried to kill her several times. She only wanted Precious so she could get a damn check. In the book, it doesn’t matter whether she was raped by someone else or not. The bottom line is she’d been sexually abused by BOTH parents. How in the hell is that love. I thought the movie was excellent and if you want to make a movie about Mary then go ahead. You sound like the same type of person that would blame Rihanna and find some reason to justify Chris whooping her butt. Yeah Mary got a story, the same story as Precious probably. Precious, took a turn for the better because she had people who cared. Mary may not have.

  • Miss V

    I understand where you are coming from however i disagree with you for the most part. First of all, this is a Lee Daniels movie, not a Tyler Perry movie. Secondly, the auther wrote about Precious not about Mary. Mary did NOT love her daughter. Love does not hurt and what Mary did showed no love but pure hate. In fact, she tried to kill her several times. She only wanted Precious so she could get a damn check. In the book, it doesn’t matter whether she was raped by someone else or not. The bottom line is she’d been sexually abused by BOTH parents. How in the hell is that love. I thought the movie was excellent and if you want to make a movie about Mary then go ahead. You sound like the same type of person that would blame Rihanna and find some reason to justify Chris whooping her butt. Yeah Mary got a story, the same story as Precious probably. Precious, took a turn for the better because she had people who cared. Mary may not have.

  • Miss V

    @ Fallon. I realized after my first response to your blog the movie actually left me angry. But i think the movie leaves us all angry for one reason or another. The good thing about it, is that it raises important issues and starts dialogue. So it may not be such a bad thing after all. Your comments were taken personally and it shouldn’t have. I my bad for judging you as someone who would take the side of Chris vs. Rihanna.

  • Miss V

    @ Fallon. I realized after my first response to your blog the movie actually left me angry. But i think the movie leaves us all angry for one reason or another. The good thing about it, is that it raises important issues and starts dialogue. So it may not be such a bad thing after all. Your comments were taken personally and it shouldn’t have. I my bad for judging you as someone who would take the side of Chris vs. Rihanna.

  • Fallon

    @Miss V,

    First and foremost, I think it is poor taste to make an assumption about a person’s politics without knowing the person. Would I blame Rihanna for her victimization? That’s as an Asinine question and I won’t answer it. Perhaps, if you want to know my commitment to ending violence against women of color, please read my other blogs on this website beginning with Be Bold Be Brave Be Red: Ending Violence against Women of Color Podcast post I wrote two weeks ago.

    Secondly, you’re right the book and the movie were told from Precious’ point of view. I don’t disagree with this point. Matter of fact, I clearly state this in my blog. However, I chose to write “my blog” from the point of view of the mother: (1) Because of how black mothers in particular poor black mothers are negatively portrayed in the media; and (2) Because it’s “my” blog and I have the freedom to write as I will.

    Does my writing this blog about Mary and other mothers say that black women do not abuse their daughters? No, because they do. But, what I am asking my readers to see the context, structural issues, and the political project behind casting black mothers as bad, evil, narcissistic, lazy, cunning, selfish people. And how historically and presently these characterizations and images legitimize abuse against daughters like Precious and mothers like Mary.

  • Fallon

    @Miss V,

    First and foremost, I think it is poor taste to make an assumption about a person’s politics without knowing the person. Would I blame Rihanna for her victimization? That’s as an Asinine question and I won’t answer it. Perhaps, if you want to know my commitment to ending violence against women of color, please read my other blogs on this website beginning with Be Bold Be Brave Be Red: Ending Violence against Women of Color Podcast post I wrote two weeks ago.

    Secondly, you’re right the book and the movie were told from Precious’ point of view. I don’t disagree with this point. Matter of fact, I clearly state this in my blog. However, I chose to write “my blog” from the point of view of the mother: (1) Because of how black mothers in particular poor black mothers are negatively portrayed in the media; and (2) Because it’s “my” blog and I have the freedom to write as I will.

    Does my writing this blog about Mary and other mothers say that black women do not abuse their daughters? No, because they do. But, what I am asking my readers to see the context, structural issues, and the political project behind casting black mothers as bad, evil, narcissistic, lazy, cunning, selfish people. And how historically and presently these characterizations and images legitimize abuse against daughters like Precious and mothers like Mary.

  • Fallon

    @Miss V,

    I just saw your other response. I understand your anger which is why I wrote the blog because I felt angry at how both where characterized. So, I understand. And no worries about your Rihanna’s comment.

  • Fallon

    @Miss V,

    I just saw your other response. I understand your anger which is why I wrote the blog because I felt angry at how both where characterized. So, I understand. And no worries about your Rihanna’s comment.

  • I feel compelled to also respond to Fallon’s comments as well as some of the other ones regarding Precious. First of all, let’s be clear, as someone pointed out this is a Lee Daniel’s movie…Tyler Perry and Oprah came to the table after if was completed. I have several problems with Tyler Perry films in general, in that the right answer is always some where between God and a good man.
    There are, indeed, many other positive images of women in this movie and yes, I think the skin-color of the “good” women is an issue that could have been easily addressed.

    I think Precious was one of the most profoundly disturbing movies I ever seen. However, I think it was an important movie that needed to be made. The reality is in 90 minutes to 2 hours you can only do so much with a character. As a film maker,I know how difficult it is to do justice to just one subject’s story. There are many, many young girls like Precious out in our world and we should know their story. And while I know that Mary did not just arrive on the scene and start randomly abusing her daughter, it is quite clear that we have sent messages to young girls that no matter what, we must have a man, at any expense….even your own child’s.

    Mary’s story is important, but I don’t think we can look at this as a hierarchy of oppression. Who has had the most difficult life? Clearly, early intervention is needed to make sure women like Mary get the help they need and to see the other possibilities in their lives. We know that Mary was a victim, but does that mean we don’t have a story where there is great hope that this abusive cycle will end with this young woman. At the end of the movie, we are fairly certain Precious will stop the generations of abuse and do better than her mother. I think that is the best of all outcomes. When we know better, we do better.

    Thanks, Fallon for getting this conversation going and for sharing your own story.

  • I feel compelled to also respond to Fallon’s comments as well as some of the other ones regarding Precious. First of all, let’s be clear, as someone pointed out this is a Lee Daniel’s movie…Tyler Perry and Oprah came to the table after if was completed. I have several problems with Tyler Perry films in general, in that the right answer is always some where between God and a good man.
    There are, indeed, many other positive images of women in this movie and yes, I think the skin-color of the “good” women is an issue that could have been easily addressed.

    I think Precious was one of the most profoundly disturbing movies I ever seen. However, I think it was an important movie that needed to be made. The reality is in 90 minutes to 2 hours you can only do so much with a character. As a film maker,I know how difficult it is to do justice to just one subject’s story. There are many, many young girls like Precious out in our world and we should know their story. And while I know that Mary did not just arrive on the scene and start randomly abusing her daughter, it is quite clear that we have sent messages to young girls that no matter what, we must have a man, at any expense….even your own child’s.

    Mary’s story is important, but I don’t think we can look at this as a hierarchy of oppression. Who has had the most difficult life? Clearly, early intervention is needed to make sure women like Mary get the help they need and to see the other possibilities in their lives. We know that Mary was a victim, but does that mean we don’t have a story where there is great hope that this abusive cycle will end with this young woman. At the end of the movie, we are fairly certain Precious will stop the generations of abuse and do better than her mother. I think that is the best of all outcomes. When we know better, we do better.

    Thanks, Fallon for getting this conversation going and for sharing your own story.

  • Fallon

    @Mary,

    Thank you for your comment and I think you are right Tyler Perry’s movies are all about men from the patriarchal male god to the patriarchal man. Furthermore, I understand the difficult nature of trying to portray a complex reality in a 90 minute film.

    However, I do not think this means that Lee Daniels must as summer points out in her post and I affirm in my blog make the mother more evil and responsible than she was portrayed in the book. Because I have not read the book and can only base my comments from the movie and conversations with people who have read the book, I can only say that there was more a structural narrative at play in the book and that the Welfare system was not so benevolent in the book as if was portrayed in the embodiment of Mariah Carey’s character.

    Secondly, the light skinned goodness of the movie was intentional. It stated as so many people have pointed out that bad people are dark like Precious and Mary and good people are light skinned like the male nurse, the teacher, and the social worker. So, it could not have been “easily addressed” because people have “many” psychological and social frames of reference that say light skin is better, good, happier, etc than dark skin people.

    Thirdly, Precious’ story is not a unique story in the sense of people knowing how young women of color have to fight (i.e. work very hard) against all odds to rise above what society would deem as their black pathological families and environments. You can watch countless movies that depict this reality for young black girls beginning with Just Another Girl on the IRT to Charmaine in Lean on Me to Loosing Isaiah to all of Tyler Perry’s movies involving black homicidal/abusive mothers and their daughters.

    But does this mean that Precious’ story should not be told? No, it should be told, but it should be situated in a larger conversation about structural inequalities. You see simply only showing the issue of violence to be contained within the mother and having Precious rise above her mother does not fully show how systems are too at fault. Neoliberalism, sexism, racism, etc get to exit the stage with impunity.

    Fourthly, my intent is not to rank oppressions, but to see the complexities of oppressions that both shape the mother and daughter in this movie and the intersecting oppressions that shape real world black mothers and daughters. Does my writing this blog about Mary and other mothers say that black women do not abuse their daughters? No, because they do. But, what I am asking my readers to see the context, structural issues, and the political project behind casting black mothers as bad, evil, narcissistic, lazy, cunning, selfish people. And how historically and presently these characterizations and images legitimize abuse against daughters like Precious and mothers like Mary.

  • Fallon

    @Mary,

    Thank you for your comment and I think you are right Tyler Perry’s movies are all about men from the patriarchal male god to the patriarchal man. Furthermore, I understand the difficult nature of trying to portray a complex reality in a 90 minute film.

    However, I do not think this means that Lee Daniels must as summer points out in her post and I affirm in my blog make the mother more evil and responsible than she was portrayed in the book. Because I have not read the book and can only base my comments from the movie and conversations with people who have read the book, I can only say that there was more a structural narrative at play in the book and that the Welfare system was not so benevolent in the book as if was portrayed in the embodiment of Mariah Carey’s character.

    Secondly, the light skinned goodness of the movie was intentional. It stated as so many people have pointed out that bad people are dark like Precious and Mary and good people are light skinned like the male nurse, the teacher, and the social worker. So, it could not have been “easily addressed” because people have “many” psychological and social frames of reference that say light skin is better, good, happier, etc than dark skin people.

    Thirdly, Precious’ story is not a unique story in the sense of people knowing how young women of color have to fight (i.e. work very hard) against all odds to rise above what society would deem as their black pathological families and environments. You can watch countless movies that depict this reality for young black girls beginning with Just Another Girl on the IRT to Charmaine in Lean on Me to Loosing Isaiah to all of Tyler Perry’s movies involving black homicidal/abusive mothers and their daughters.

    But does this mean that Precious’ story should not be told? No, it should be told, but it should be situated in a larger conversation about structural inequalities. You see simply only showing the issue of violence to be contained within the mother and having Precious rise above her mother does not fully show how systems are too at fault. Neoliberalism, sexism, racism, etc get to exit the stage with impunity.

    Fourthly, my intent is not to rank oppressions, but to see the complexities of oppressions that both shape the mother and daughter in this movie and the intersecting oppressions that shape real world black mothers and daughters. Does my writing this blog about Mary and other mothers say that black women do not abuse their daughters? No, because they do. But, what I am asking my readers to see the context, structural issues, and the political project behind casting black mothers as bad, evil, narcissistic, lazy, cunning, selfish people. And how historically and presently these characterizations and images legitimize abuse against daughters like Precious and mothers like Mary.

  • WOW! These responses were powerful and thought provoking.

    Okay, here’s how I see it. Mary is a result of her own childhood….where she was most likely beaten, raped,and dehumanized. It’s a vicious cirle that never ceases. Mary, the monster, passes her baggage, hate, regret, violence, and hoplesness onto poor Precious.

    It’s all so sad….all so unbearable. One cannot breathe while it’s all happening.

    But Precious finds people who want to help her, guide her, and love her. This is the only way out out of the horrendous dysfunction…THE ONLY WAY OUT.

    I did not see this film as a representation of Black America….but as all of us: white, Hispanic, American Indian, Muslim, Asian…etc….

    Very interesting perspective. Loved the post! 🙂

  • WOW! These responses were powerful and thought provoking.

    Okay, here’s how I see it. Mary is a result of her own childhood….where she was most likely beaten, raped,and dehumanized. It’s a vicious cirle that never ceases. Mary, the monster, passes her baggage, hate, regret, violence, and hoplesness onto poor Precious.

    It’s all so sad….all so unbearable. One cannot breathe while it’s all happening.

    But Precious finds people who want to help her, guide her, and love her. This is the only way out out of the horrendous dysfunction…THE ONLY WAY OUT.

    I did not see this film as a representation of Black America….but as all of us: white, Hispanic, American Indian, Muslim, Asian…etc….

    Very interesting perspective. Loved the post! 🙂

  • @Carla: I would argue that what’s really too bad is that some of us are so intent on having movies “like this” in the mainstream that we are willing to uncritically champion a film that plays a role in caricaturing and pathologizing black women—particularly those of us who are of the darker hue. Sure, there are strong women in the movie. But it’s difficult to escape the glaring fact that most of these strong women are light-skinned. There’s always the story behind the story that deserves to be acknowledged. Just as the 1980s Reagan era loomed behind the plight of Precious’ mother, the portrayal of these light-skinned “strong” women in the film are an extension of a long history of colorism that still exists in our communities. To look at the movie Precious with this type of critical lens is not about maintaining a running list of the film’s flaws. It’s about making sure that we don’t get so mesmerized by the big screen that we are blind to the aspects of this film that were done at our own expense.

    @johonna: I think you raise some really good questions about the extent to which Sapphire is (or should be) implicated in the conversations about the movie. I read the book a couple of months ago and while I do think the author does a better job of fleshing out the social/political context of the story than the movie, I think your question is a good one when it comes to Mary specifically. I’m going to read summer’s commentary and take another look through the book. Thanks for your insight!

  • @Carla: I would argue that what’s really too bad is that some of us are so intent on having movies “like this” in the mainstream that we are willing to uncritically champion a film that plays a role in caricaturing and pathologizing black women—particularly those of us who are of the darker hue. Sure, there are strong women in the movie. But it’s difficult to escape the glaring fact that most of these strong women are light-skinned. There’s always the story behind the story that deserves to be acknowledged. Just as the 1980s Reagan era loomed behind the plight of Precious’ mother, the portrayal of these light-skinned “strong” women in the film are an extension of a long history of colorism that still exists in our communities. To look at the movie Precious with this type of critical lens is not about maintaining a running list of the film’s flaws. It’s about making sure that we don’t get so mesmerized by the big screen that we are blind to the aspects of this film that were done at our own expense.

    @johonna: I think you raise some really good questions about the extent to which Sapphire is (or should be) implicated in the conversations about the movie. I read the book a couple of months ago and while I do think the author does a better job of fleshing out the social/political context of the story than the movie, I think your question is a good one when it comes to Mary specifically. I’m going to read summer’s commentary and take another look through the book. Thanks for your insight!

  • Org_kDoc

    Your review was very deep and profounding…Just to let you know, Tyler Perry didn’t make any movie from this film. He was simply endorsing it because too as a child he was molested and abused.

  • Org_kDoc

    Your review was very deep and profounding…Just to let you know, Tyler Perry didn’t make any movie from this film. He was simply endorsing it because too as a child he was molested and abused.

  • Not young, not Black, but Interested All the Same

    Random thoughts on the drive home from seeing the film, occurred about in this order:

    1. Profound sadness for Precious and what she went through. I know nothing first hand of urban Black daily life, but I have heard plenty about sexual abuse in suburban white America, enough to make me cry for Precious.
    2. Awe over the complexity of the Black community in America; I’m driving, thinking through the film while Carolina Chocolate drops are playing in the background and I have a Black president. And thinking that a film like this, my experience like what I just described, could NEVER have been made when I was young (I’m 54). We have a long way to go, but we’ve come a long way, too, as a country. We beat ourselves up sometimes, and rightly so, but we ought to take time to marvel at our progress as well.
    3. Guilt for watching such pain under the guise of “entertainment”. Pay your money, watch the horror.
    4. Thinking about Mary; SPOILER HERE: she was a monster to me, until her last scene with Mariah. Mariah threw her hands up and walked away, when, I felt, for the first time, something in Mary was truly crying out to be understood a victim in a chain of abuse. She was not yet anywhere near where Precious was in terms of her self-awareness, but it was at that point that I felt I didn’t want the system to give up on her, either. Mo’nique ought to get an Oscar for that scene alone.
    5. Last thought, after reading the above comments from others: rather than see this film as hating on Black women, I saw it this way: Some humans (like Precious) for some mysterious reason seem able to summon a kind of inner strength to rise above whatever holds them down, while others (like Mary) lack this inner strength and are either squashed by the oppressors or become an oppressor. It’s the universal struggle, played out over and over throughout history, across all races, ethnic groups, and genders.
    Anyway, there are my two cents, and I hope you don’t mind my peeking in on this post and followup comments!

  • Not young, not Black, but Interested All the Same

    Random thoughts on the drive home from seeing the film, occurred about in this order:

    1. Profound sadness for Precious and what she went through. I know nothing first hand of urban Black daily life, but I have heard plenty about sexual abuse in suburban white America, enough to make me cry for Precious.
    2. Awe over the complexity of the Black community in America; I’m driving, thinking through the film while Carolina Chocolate drops are playing in the background and I have a Black president. And thinking that a film like this, my experience like what I just described, could NEVER have been made when I was young (I’m 54). We have a long way to go, but we’ve come a long way, too, as a country. We beat ourselves up sometimes, and rightly so, but we ought to take time to marvel at our progress as well.
    3. Guilt for watching such pain under the guise of “entertainment”. Pay your money, watch the horror.
    4. Thinking about Mary; SPOILER HERE: she was a monster to me, until her last scene with Mariah. Mariah threw her hands up and walked away, when, I felt, for the first time, something in Mary was truly crying out to be understood a victim in a chain of abuse. She was not yet anywhere near where Precious was in terms of her self-awareness, but it was at that point that I felt I didn’t want the system to give up on her, either. Mo’nique ought to get an Oscar for that scene alone.
    5. Last thought, after reading the above comments from others: rather than see this film as hating on Black women, I saw it this way: Some humans (like Precious) for some mysterious reason seem able to summon a kind of inner strength to rise above whatever holds them down, while others (like Mary) lack this inner strength and are either squashed by the oppressors or become an oppressor. It’s the universal struggle, played out over and over throughout history, across all races, ethnic groups, and genders.
    Anyway, there are my two cents, and I hope you don’t mind my peeking in on this post and followup comments!

  • Melinda-BKA: Missy

    Actor/Actress: Excellent Performance
    Moral of Movie: Unknown
    Purpose of Movie: Unable to to determine the outcome due to unspoken messages throughout the movie. The movie did not present a hope or encourage change. There was no solution to the crisis. The character Precious had many issues which were not resolved. The teacher who was suppose to be her main supporter had a potty mouth and also had a crisis at her homefront which was misleading to Precious;who was looking for surrender. Again, no male figure was present throughout the movie. The teacher even had relationship issues because her role indicates even a male figure in her life was obsolete.
    One notable scene was Precious gave birth to a male child who was not handicapped. The female had obstacles from birth. The male nurse did not play a strong dominant part. He did not protray a sense of rescue either.
    Plot Of Movie: Undetermined
    Direction of Movie: Left wondering
    The bottom line…the ending of the movie did not leave one thinking of hope as a way of escape. There was not consequence for the wrong doing of the parents of this child. No one reported the incest or child abuse.
    Since the film did not imply that Precious received counseling. It is obvious her chances of not repeating the behavior was slim.
    Remember: Hurting people hurt hurting people

  • Melinda-BKA: Missy

    Actor/Actress: Excellent Performance
    Moral of Movie: Unknown
    Purpose of Movie: Unable to to determine the outcome due to unspoken messages throughout the movie. The movie did not present a hope or encourage change. There was no solution to the crisis. The character Precious had many issues which were not resolved. The teacher who was suppose to be her main supporter had a potty mouth and also had a crisis at her homefront which was misleading to Precious;who was looking for surrender. Again, no male figure was present throughout the movie. The teacher even had relationship issues because her role indicates even a male figure in her life was obsolete.
    One notable scene was Precious gave birth to a male child who was not handicapped. The female had obstacles from birth. The male nurse did not play a strong dominant part. He did not protray a sense of rescue either.
    Plot Of Movie: Undetermined
    Direction of Movie: Left wondering
    The bottom line…the ending of the movie did not leave one thinking of hope as a way of escape. There was not consequence for the wrong doing of the parents of this child. No one reported the incest or child abuse.
    Since the film did not imply that Precious received counseling. It is obvious her chances of not repeating the behavior was slim.
    Remember: Hurting people hurt hurting people

  • Shay

    The black community seems to be in an uproar only focused on the black welfare mother image. This was a story that needed to be told and needed to be told the way that it was told. We always want to make excuses and reasons for our poor personal choices. I could care less about who and where Marys’ story began. So many black women feel like they have to have a man and will allow themselves to compromise the lives of their children to keep these men. The black community hides abuse. This story is not new. Its one that goes on behind doors through out the black community and never is spoken about because we associate it as “white people stuff”. There are black women who fit this mold. They are going no where and angry at the world and taking it out on their children. Your mother was not a comparison of Mary. She did not beat you down but built you up. She did not allow the influx of men to rape and control you.
    Mary chose to allow her daughters father to sexually abuse her and she watched and was jealous. She herself raped her as well just to satisfy herself. So no I don’t want to get to know this monster.She not only had a choice but a duty as a mother to protect her child (whom at 3 could not protect herself) from this monster of a father but she chose to shut her mouth and keep her man.

  • Shay

    The black community seems to be in an uproar only focused on the black welfare mother image. This was a story that needed to be told and needed to be told the way that it was told. We always want to make excuses and reasons for our poor personal choices. I could care less about who and where Marys’ story began. So many black women feel like they have to have a man and will allow themselves to compromise the lives of their children to keep these men. The black community hides abuse. This story is not new. Its one that goes on behind doors through out the black community and never is spoken about because we associate it as “white people stuff”. There are black women who fit this mold. They are going no where and angry at the world and taking it out on their children. Your mother was not a comparison of Mary. She did not beat you down but built you up. She did not allow the influx of men to rape and control you.
    Mary chose to allow her daughters father to sexually abuse her and she watched and was jealous. She herself raped her as well just to satisfy herself. So no I don’t want to get to know this monster.She not only had a choice but a duty as a mother to protect her child (whom at 3 could not protect herself) from this monster of a father but she chose to shut her mouth and keep her man.

  • I don’t think a reference to a grotesque character in a book written by a woman who has extreme disdain for other black women that was made into a film displaying the extreme display of dysfunction by Lee Daniels for profit deserves such a nuanced dissertation. Your personal experiences aside that’s what’s wrong with this “story” to begin with. It shows the worst of the worst with no representation of the inner demons at play nor the structural barriers that must be stepped over. If it takes having such a dysfunctional childhood with similar circumstances to relate to this movie what’s the point? How does it actually help anyone? Not to mention the fact it puts the gutter on display with black women squarely squatting in it – oh but before I forget it;s darker-skinned black women as demonic banshees from hell. The light-skinned women are perfect angels. Of course the men are absent so we don;t get to see their betrayal and abuse. If this had been the story of a black boy and his abusive father sodomizing him Al & Jesse would’ve made sure this movie got banned.

  • I don’t think a reference to a grotesque character in a book written by a woman who has extreme disdain for other black women that was made into a film displaying the extreme display of dysfunction by Lee Daniels for profit deserves such a nuanced dissertation. Your personal experiences aside that’s what’s wrong with this “story” to begin with. It shows the worst of the worst with no representation of the inner demons at play nor the structural barriers that must be stepped over. If it takes having such a dysfunctional childhood with similar circumstances to relate to this movie what’s the point? How does it actually help anyone? Not to mention the fact it puts the gutter on display with black women squarely squatting in it – oh but before I forget it;s darker-skinned black women as demonic banshees from hell. The light-skinned women are perfect angels. Of course the men are absent so we don;t get to see their betrayal and abuse. If this had been the story of a black boy and his abusive father sodomizing him Al & Jesse would’ve made sure this movie got banned.

  • Not black, no longer young, obviously biased by my rural Mississippi background – but grieving over the young women of all races that face such abuse – now, then, ?forever? The question becomes (for me) how to hear, to walk with, to support, to love and to offer hope to those who are abused – male/female, all colors, all ages – how do we stop this circle of hate, violence and abuse? With all my privilege as a white woman, it’s taken 50 years to end the silence and pain of my own abuse. I want to vomit when I think of the stories much worse than my own. Give us courage to act.

  • Not black, no longer young, obviously biased by my rural Mississippi background – but grieving over the young women of all races that face such abuse – now, then, ?forever? The question becomes (for me) how to hear, to walk with, to support, to love and to offer hope to those who are abused – male/female, all colors, all ages – how do we stop this circle of hate, violence and abuse? With all my privilege as a white woman, it’s taken 50 years to end the silence and pain of my own abuse. I want to vomit when I think of the stories much worse than my own. Give us courage to act.

  • Patty

    Although I will admit that I felt for her at the end, Mary allowed Precious to be raped because she was told to “shut her fat ass.”
    You do make a good point regarding the whole “a man will rescue you” attitude, but Mary’s whole idea of “who will love me?” is completely wrong. A man would not love her because SHE LET HER DAUGHTER BE RAPED, not because some sick bastard would rather rape his own daughter than have sex with his girlfriend. Mary gave herself her own worth, and Precious knew that she deserved better.

  • Patty

    Although I will admit that I felt for her at the end, Mary allowed Precious to be raped because she was told to “shut her fat ass.”
    You do make a good point regarding the whole “a man will rescue you” attitude, but Mary’s whole idea of “who will love me?” is completely wrong. A man would not love her because SHE LET HER DAUGHTER BE RAPED, not because some sick bastard would rather rape his own daughter than have sex with his girlfriend. Mary gave herself her own worth, and Precious knew that she deserved better.

  • I agree with Carla: “It’s too bad so few films like this are made that this one needs to be all things to all people.” I empathized very much with Mary. And I love how Daniels makes me want to dismiss her as a monster most of the movie but then forced me to have to deal with her humanity, her abuse and her failed expressions of what I believe was deep love for her child. This film (and I suppose the book, as well) is not a commentary on black mothers on welfare. It’s a story about looking past the initial assumptions and glimpsing the humanity of all the characters–the lesbian teacher, the light-skinned male nurse (who wasn’t just there to be a boy toy or husband as Precious had always imagined), Mary and most especially Precious.

    I appreciate you starting this conversation . . .

  • I agree with Carla: “It’s too bad so few films like this are made that this one needs to be all things to all people.” I empathized very much with Mary. And I love how Daniels makes me want to dismiss her as a monster most of the movie but then forced me to have to deal with her humanity, her abuse and her failed expressions of what I believe was deep love for her child. This film (and I suppose the book, as well) is not a commentary on black mothers on welfare. It’s a story about looking past the initial assumptions and glimpsing the humanity of all the characters–the lesbian teacher, the light-skinned male nurse (who wasn’t just there to be a boy toy or husband as Precious had always imagined), Mary and most especially Precious.

    I appreciate you starting this conversation . . .

  • Jennifer

    This great analysis of Mary is nearly a month old now but having been drawn to this blog by a friend, and happening upon your writings I was compelled to respond. The way you’ve written about Mary is I believe most important. Why, I had not even considered her legacy. And her story is a legacy – albeit one that is dark and unsavory. I’ve not yet seen the film because I’ve grown weary of the movies and books and the IMAGERY on the sufferings of blacks. After having spent time reading, writing, acting and teaching the slave stories on stage and the Willie Lynch letter quite frankly my mind nor my heart could take much more of our legacy of suffering. And just as soon as I recovered somewhat from the horrors of our collective slave history as victims (and in a not so spoken about point in history even victimizers!) who were once at the height of spiritual and intellectual creativity and consciousness, I realized that women are the oldest slaves on the planet. Ancient matriarchal civilizations were the first to be overthrown by brute force (patriarchy), colonized, and declared as chattel. Thank you so much for making me see Mary because she is a direct result of long term misogyny.

  • Jennifer

    This great analysis of Mary is nearly a month old now but having been drawn to this blog by a friend, and happening upon your writings I was compelled to respond. The way you’ve written about Mary is I believe most important. Why, I had not even considered her legacy. And her story is a legacy – albeit one that is dark and unsavory. I’ve not yet seen the film because I’ve grown weary of the movies and books and the IMAGERY on the sufferings of blacks. After having spent time reading, writing, acting and teaching the slave stories on stage and the Willie Lynch letter quite frankly my mind nor my heart could take much more of our legacy of suffering. And just as soon as I recovered somewhat from the horrors of our collective slave history as victims (and in a not so spoken about point in history even victimizers!) who were once at the height of spiritual and intellectual creativity and consciousness, I realized that women are the oldest slaves on the planet. Ancient matriarchal civilizations were the first to be overthrown by brute force (patriarchy), colonized, and declared as chattel. Thank you so much for making me see Mary because she is a direct result of long term misogyny.

  • Maria

    I’m sorry, but I did feel sorry for Mary, and somewhat even more than Precious. At least in this movie we see Precious actually had love to turn towards, and I get the feel Mary never did. To be like most viewers of this movie and just see her as a plain old “monster” is just being too nearsighted in my honest opinion. No one is black and white. And it’s obvious Mary wasn’t. I’m not defending what she did, but I understood where she was coming from, and I think if more people watched closer they would be able to articulate more especially from the last scene that she was more than a “monster”. She was Precious, just without any hope.

  • Maria

    I’m sorry, but I did feel sorry for Mary, and somewhat even more than Precious. At least in this movie we see Precious actually had love to turn towards, and I get the feel Mary never did. To be like most viewers of this movie and just see her as a plain old “monster” is just being too nearsighted in my honest opinion. No one is black and white. And it’s obvious Mary wasn’t. I’m not defending what she did, but I understood where she was coming from, and I think if more people watched closer they would be able to articulate more especially from the last scene that she was more than a “monster”. She was Precious, just without any hope.

  • yervan hundalah

    if the angst of henry kissinger was revelant-why can’t we be.”just a proactive introspection on yarn’s knight.” – Bishop Jamaal Abdul, 1837

  • yervan hundalah

    if the angst of henry kissinger was revelant-why can’t we be.”just a proactive introspection on yarn’s knight.” – Bishop Jamaal Abdul, 1837

  • G

    This is an interesting piece on audience responses to Precious in theaters:

    http://tinyurl.com/ydx4q3r

    It includes an interview with Amina Robinson, who plays one of Precious’ classmates.

  • G

    This is an interesting piece on audience responses to Precious in theaters:

    http://tinyurl.com/ydx4q3r

    It includes an interview with Amina Robinson, who plays one of Precious’ classmates.

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  • azer

    I would read the book first, before making assumptions

  • azer

    I would read the book first, before making assumptions

  • Renee

    I have neither seen the movie nor read the book – but I as a real life social worker (Child Protective Services and Public Mental Health) know this family story and know that it can be very real – and is. I never once worked with a child of sexual abuse when I didn’t understand that highly likely the abuser and the looker on was at one time a 10 year old in pain, abused in some way – be it neglect, physical, emotional that no one intervene with – the adult abuser is often just a bigger version on the outside hiding the same hurt inside as the abused child – doesn’t mean the number one thing is to make the child safe – it is – but no social worker doesn’t have empathy for the child inside the abuser – no social worker who has been doing it for 20 years like I have at least. Anyway – I find it funny that no one mentions that Mary named her child “Precious” – says a lot – a lot about how she felt when that child was born – and how far from those hopes and dreams her life had drifted – She was named “Precious” –

  • Renee

    I have neither seen the movie nor read the book – but I as a real life social worker (Child Protective Services and Public Mental Health) know this family story and know that it can be very real – and is. I never once worked with a child of sexual abuse when I didn’t understand that highly likely the abuser and the looker on was at one time a 10 year old in pain, abused in some way – be it neglect, physical, emotional that no one intervene with – the adult abuser is often just a bigger version on the outside hiding the same hurt inside as the abused child – doesn’t mean the number one thing is to make the child safe – it is – but no social worker doesn’t have empathy for the child inside the abuser – no social worker who has been doing it for 20 years like I have at least. Anyway – I find it funny that no one mentions that Mary named her child “Precious” – says a lot – a lot about how she felt when that child was born – and how far from those hopes and dreams her life had drifted – She was named “Precious” –

  • Brandon

    Very interesting piece and commentary here. So many thoughts to share – where do I begin.

    While the author of this blog has CLEARLY stated the piece as opinion and stated that it is only based on seeing the movie, I’m hoping my comment can provide a holistic point of view of the topics raised in this post having read the book before I saw the movie.

    My post is not meant to detract from the points Fallon raises, and she brings quality points of discussion up about evaluating the occurrences that led to Mary’s behavior and the depiction of black mothers. I do believe that the lens of scrutiny here is well-intentioned, however focuses on details that aren’t central to the theme of the novel and movie. With any movie – whether it’s a cartoon movie with a villain or a more serious-natured movie like Precious, one could always examine the motives and back story of the villain. For example – what made “The Joker” behave the way he did in A Dark Knight, or what made “Scar” from the Lion King act in the manner in which he did. Hypothetically speaking – if we were to know Mary’s story – is that justification for her behavior? What does it provide us as readers and/or viewers of this story? The obvious answer is that it provides context and empathy – but the novel and movie are dealing with Mary’s behavior – not the motivating factors behind her behavior.

    Push by Sapphire and the movie Precious are about overcoming abuse. Getting upset because the depiction of the black welfare mom doesn’t look like the one you know isn’t a means to slam the movie’s depiction of Mary. This movie wasn’t a commentary on all black welfare mothers – it was a commentary on an abusive mother who just happened to be black and use welfare as a means to continue to oppress her daughter. The abuse is the theme here -the sexual, physical, mental, and emotional abuse – not welfare or race. Even if Mary wasn’t on welfare or black – the cyclical abuse would still be there – the story could still be told. Furthermore – if you read the book and watch the movie – it is clear that Sapphire and Lee Daniels do take a moment to shed light on Mary’s back story. One could argue that more time be spent in that back story – but it is certainly there. Having read the book and seeing the movie – I thought Mo’nique did an EXCELLENT job of evoking empathy for Mary and providing some context as to why she did what she did (perhaps even better than the book – hence the Golden Globe!)

    As far as the color complex issues are concerned – this is one that will probably never go away within the black community. I say that not as a pessimist – but as an honest observation of black people’s ability to continue to differentiate ourselves based upon our skin shade. Given the common ideas out there that light is right and dark is wrong – I can see where people take issue with the depiction of the teacher and social worker. I believe showing blacks in those roles of all shades would have felt more inclusive and realistic. In the book – Ms. Rain is not at all light-skinned, she has dreads and is not beautiful and light like Paula Patton. While I’m not a proponent of being colorblind – I would love it if blacks and non-blacks could look at any black person and assume good things about them. Light-skinned blacks do great things, brown-skinned blacks are great people, and so are dark-skinned people like myself. It would help to alleviate the light-hearted coping/defense mechanism I was told growing up about my complexion (the darker the berry the sweeter the juice).

  • Brandon

    Very interesting piece and commentary here. So many thoughts to share – where do I begin.

    While the author of this blog has CLEARLY stated the piece as opinion and stated that it is only based on seeing the movie, I’m hoping my comment can provide a holistic point of view of the topics raised in this post having read the book before I saw the movie.

    My post is not meant to detract from the points Fallon raises, and she brings quality points of discussion up about evaluating the occurrences that led to Mary’s behavior and the depiction of black mothers. I do believe that the lens of scrutiny here is well-intentioned, however focuses on details that aren’t central to the theme of the novel and movie. With any movie – whether it’s a cartoon movie with a villain or a more serious-natured movie like Precious, one could always examine the motives and back story of the villain. For example – what made “The Joker” behave the way he did in A Dark Knight, or what made “Scar” from the Lion King act in the manner in which he did. Hypothetically speaking – if we were to know Mary’s story – is that justification for her behavior? What does it provide us as readers and/or viewers of this story? The obvious answer is that it provides context and empathy – but the novel and movie are dealing with Mary’s behavior – not the motivating factors behind her behavior.

    Push by Sapphire and the movie Precious are about overcoming abuse. Getting upset because the depiction of the black welfare mom doesn’t look like the one you know isn’t a means to slam the movie’s depiction of Mary. This movie wasn’t a commentary on all black welfare mothers – it was a commentary on an abusive mother who just happened to be black and use welfare as a means to continue to oppress her daughter. The abuse is the theme here -the sexual, physical, mental, and emotional abuse – not welfare or race. Even if Mary wasn’t on welfare or black – the cyclical abuse would still be there – the story could still be told. Furthermore – if you read the book and watch the movie – it is clear that Sapphire and Lee Daniels do take a moment to shed light on Mary’s back story. One could argue that more time be spent in that back story – but it is certainly there. Having read the book and seeing the movie – I thought Mo’nique did an EXCELLENT job of evoking empathy for Mary and providing some context as to why she did what she did (perhaps even better than the book – hence the Golden Globe!)

    As far as the color complex issues are concerned – this is one that will probably never go away within the black community. I say that not as a pessimist – but as an honest observation of black people’s ability to continue to differentiate ourselves based upon our skin shade. Given the common ideas out there that light is right and dark is wrong – I can see where people take issue with the depiction of the teacher and social worker. I believe showing blacks in those roles of all shades would have felt more inclusive and realistic. In the book – Ms. Rain is not at all light-skinned, she has dreads and is not beautiful and light like Paula Patton. While I’m not a proponent of being colorblind – I would love it if blacks and non-blacks could look at any black person and assume good things about them. Light-skinned blacks do great things, brown-skinned blacks are great people, and so are dark-skinned people like myself. It would help to alleviate the light-hearted coping/defense mechanism I was told growing up about my complexion (the darker the berry the sweeter the juice).

  • Robin

    “But, the movie does not allow you to emphasize with Mary”

    I think you mean “empathize.”

  • Robin

    “But, the movie does not allow you to emphasize with Mary”

    I think you mean “empathize.”

  • I saw something about this subject on TV last night. Good post.

  • I saw something about this subject on TV last night. Good post.

  • Hello, great point. Posts like this one are why I read your blog. Have a great 2010!

  • Hello, great point. Posts like this one are why I read your blog. Have a great 2010!

  • Ayan

    @Veronica: “In Push, Precious is raped by a peer”

    That’s not true. I’m reading the book right now and Precious is raped by her father (and molested by her mother).

  • Ayan

    @Veronica: “In Push, Precious is raped by a peer”

    That’s not true. I’m reading the book right now and Precious is raped by her father (and molested by her mother).

  • Rebecca

    I agree with the posts that urge us to look beyond the race issues presented in Precious, and look instead at the complexity of Mary’s character, and of abuse in general.

    I didn’t at all categorize Mary as a “typical black welfare mother.” I saw her as a human being, a very complex human being, with her own motivations, desires and regrets. Even before the last scene in the welfare office, I saw her jealousy towards Precious as very human, her bitterness at the way her life had turnd out as very human (HOW many people do you know who are bitter at the way their life turned out)?, her self-loathing, as very universal. I saw her behavior as desparate and sad, but I didn’t see her as a monster. I knew there were reasons that she acted the way she did.

    I think we forget that. Mary finding out about Precious’ acceptance to another school and her subsequent rage … we’ve all known people (maybe even ourselves!) who have wanted to drag down other people when they start to become successful, because it reminds us of our own failings, our own choices in life. Malice is often the result of finding out someone’s life is better, or going to be better, than our own. Women especially can be very competitive and cruel to one another, nearly destroying one another when it comes to competing over a man.

    Why do we insist that Mary should have been a better person, that protest at how badly she was protrayed? The world is full of messed-up people and I think it’s OK to show that. I think the lesson I took away from the movie was, “Be careful. That could be you, if you betray yourself and your own inner voice of what’s right and wrong. That could be you, if you don’t keep progressing and following your dreams.” I did NOT think, “That could be me, if I were a black welfare woman living in the 80s, and grew up in an oppressive society.”

    If there were any larger themes in the movie that really spoke to me, they were WOMEN’s issues in society, and the horrible ways we treat ourselves and each other, much more than questions of race (although I’m not ignoring the fact that race and gender issues are interlinked, and that being a black woman in America is basically two strikes against you, socially).

    The BIGGEST woman’s issue in the movie is Mary’s motivation in being willing to do anything to keep a man around. It’s such a common problem among women of all races and backgrounds, and in the movie, resulted in so much evil, to Mary, and to Precious. What if Mary had refused to put up with her boyfriend’s behavior, and been able to “sacrifice” leaving her man to spare Precious, as she ironically told Precious real women “sacrifice”? I have just watched my white, middle-class, beautiful, talented, amazing friend let herself be treated horribly and verbally abused by a man for five years because she was afraid of being alone, and she felt she needed the validation of a man. It was the result of her own lack of self-esteem, and I see Mary the same way, especially by the end of the movie … no self-esteem. Not putting herself and her child’s needs first, above her need for a man. I think THIS is the element of the movie that needs to be discussed the most … why do women let themselves be treated like trash for the approval of a man? Why are we so insecure? What does society teach us about ourselves, and our need for false dependence on a man even though we are autonomous beings, that makes these things happen?

    If I saw Mary as the victim of anything, and NOT responsible for her own actions, it was her insecurity. To be SO insecure that you would let a man rape your daughter in front of you, so you wouldn’t lose him???! Who taught her that she was inferior, that she wasn’t beautiful, that she was worthless? THAT was larger, patriarchal, and yes, white society … that was the only place where I really noted the larger social issues going on with her.

    I think the last welfare-office scene shows Mary knew what she had let happen to Precious was deeply wrong, and had known all along. Guilt does strange things to us. Guilt can make us self-implode with loathing; guilt can make our already initital self-hatred grow worse … can cause us to lash out and hurt the people around us … can cause us to justify the most horrendous acts by making ourselves out to be a victim … a common behavior of abusive people. At their heart, abusive people are insecure and deflect blame onto others. Of course Mary’s case of blaming the Precious for her own abuse was extreme, but how else could she face the guilt of what she let happen to Precious?

    I feel like the movie does not approve of Mary’s behavior, but makes us question her behavior. That’s what made this movie brilliant … many, many women engage in this behavior or have observed it in other women, and most women can relate to Mary’s character.

    As a small aside, I totally didn’t notice the skin-color issue. Precious has the darkest skin in the movie and she is the strongest woman in the movie, in my opinion. Even her lighter-skinner teacher marvels at her. Precious’ mother also has lighter skin than Precious, about the same color as the social worker who comes to visit them at their house, and Blu Rain’s girlfriend. And Precious’ mother is one of the weakest characters in the movie.

    The only thing I noticed about Blu Rain that seemed stereotypical to me is that her beauty (features, hairstyle, even the shape of her face) and clothing did seem more mainstream, “white” America … even more noticeable to me than the fact that her skin is very light. I would have noticed these things about her if her skin were as dark as Precious’s.

    I know it’s important to discuss issues of race in movies and literature, which are all around us, and I’m glad for the posts here that made me think. But I think it’s important to look at this movie not just as a platform for race issues, but for women of all races, and as holding messages that are universal for all human beings.

  • Rebecca

    I agree with the posts that urge us to look beyond the race issues presented in Precious, and look instead at the complexity of Mary’s character, and of abuse in general.

    I didn’t at all categorize Mary as a “typical black welfare mother.” I saw her as a human being, a very complex human being, with her own motivations, desires and regrets. Even before the last scene in the welfare office, I saw her jealousy towards Precious as very human, her bitterness at the way her life had turnd out as very human (HOW many people do you know who are bitter at the way their life turned out)?, her self-loathing, as very universal. I saw her behavior as desparate and sad, but I didn’t see her as a monster. I knew there were reasons that she acted the way she did.

    I think we forget that. Mary finding out about Precious’ acceptance to another school and her subsequent rage … we’ve all known people (maybe even ourselves!) who have wanted to drag down other people when they start to become successful, because it reminds us of our own failings, our own choices in life. Malice is often the result of finding out someone’s life is better, or going to be better, than our own. Women especially can be very competitive and cruel to one another, nearly destroying one another when it comes to competing over a man.

    Why do we insist that Mary should have been a better person, that protest at how badly she was protrayed? The world is full of messed-up people and I think it’s OK to show that. I think the lesson I took away from the movie was, “Be careful. That could be you, if you betray yourself and your own inner voice of what’s right and wrong. That could be you, if you don’t keep progressing and following your dreams.” I did NOT think, “That could be me, if I were a black welfare woman living in the 80s, and grew up in an oppressive society.”

    If there were any larger themes in the movie that really spoke to me, they were WOMEN’s issues in society, and the horrible ways we treat ourselves and each other, much more than questions of race (although I’m not ignoring the fact that race and gender issues are interlinked, and that being a black woman in America is basically two strikes against you, socially).

    The BIGGEST woman’s issue in the movie is Mary’s motivation in being willing to do anything to keep a man around. It’s such a common problem among women of all races and backgrounds, and in the movie, resulted in so much evil, to Mary, and to Precious. What if Mary had refused to put up with her boyfriend’s behavior, and been able to “sacrifice” leaving her man to spare Precious, as she ironically told Precious real women “sacrifice”? I have just watched my white, middle-class, beautiful, talented, amazing friend let herself be treated horribly and verbally abused by a man for five years because she was afraid of being alone, and she felt she needed the validation of a man. It was the result of her own lack of self-esteem, and I see Mary the same way, especially by the end of the movie … no self-esteem. Not putting herself and her child’s needs first, above her need for a man. I think THIS is the element of the movie that needs to be discussed the most … why do women let themselves be treated like trash for the approval of a man? Why are we so insecure? What does society teach us about ourselves, and our need for false dependence on a man even though we are autonomous beings, that makes these things happen?

    If I saw Mary as the victim of anything, and NOT responsible for her own actions, it was her insecurity. To be SO insecure that you would let a man rape your daughter in front of you, so you wouldn’t lose him???! Who taught her that she was inferior, that she wasn’t beautiful, that she was worthless? THAT was larger, patriarchal, and yes, white society … that was the only place where I really noted the larger social issues going on with her.

    I think the last welfare-office scene shows Mary knew what she had let happen to Precious was deeply wrong, and had known all along. Guilt does strange things to us. Guilt can make us self-implode with loathing; guilt can make our already initital self-hatred grow worse … can cause us to lash out and hurt the people around us … can cause us to justify the most horrendous acts by making ourselves out to be a victim … a common behavior of abusive people. At their heart, abusive people are insecure and deflect blame onto others. Of course Mary’s case of blaming the Precious for her own abuse was extreme, but how else could she face the guilt of what she let happen to Precious?

    I feel like the movie does not approve of Mary’s behavior, but makes us question her behavior. That’s what made this movie brilliant … many, many women engage in this behavior or have observed it in other women, and most women can relate to Mary’s character.

    As a small aside, I totally didn’t notice the skin-color issue. Precious has the darkest skin in the movie and she is the strongest woman in the movie, in my opinion. Even her lighter-skinner teacher marvels at her. Precious’ mother also has lighter skin than Precious, about the same color as the social worker who comes to visit them at their house, and Blu Rain’s girlfriend. And Precious’ mother is one of the weakest characters in the movie.

    The only thing I noticed about Blu Rain that seemed stereotypical to me is that her beauty (features, hairstyle, even the shape of her face) and clothing did seem more mainstream, “white” America … even more noticeable to me than the fact that her skin is very light. I would have noticed these things about her if her skin were as dark as Precious’s.

    I know it’s important to discuss issues of race in movies and literature, which are all around us, and I’m glad for the posts here that made me think. But I think it’s important to look at this movie not just as a platform for race issues, but for women of all races, and as holding messages that are universal for all human beings.

  • unknown

    Your review is very well written and I see your point of view in many aspects. I never thought about Mary, the mother, until you brought it up here. I too, just hated her and her character, and what she stood for.

    And even after reading your review and conceding some valid points that you make, I still can’t feel anything for the mother. Here’s my problem with it all…

    I get it, people who are abused, then abuse others. Maybe Mary was abused herself. Clearly the bf yelled at her to “shut her fat mouth” when she asked why he would do this to her baby? … but i still can’t ACCEPT it and will never get it.

    if someone hurts me…if I live through pain, day in and day out…then WHY would i do it to another??? why would i inflict the pain on someone else that i know deep in my heart… only a very very sick person does.

    The cycle NEEDs to be stopped. Mary SHOULD have rose up and DIED before she let any man RAPE her daughter…. the fact that she then becomes “jealous” and proceeds to molest her daughter….this further makes me want to vomit…

    another problem i have with all this drama is not EVERY PERSON WHO IS ON WELFARE IS A SCAM SEEKING person. Some people, black, white, hispanic, native american, you name it….just freaken NEED the HELP! yeah there’s some people who live in cycles and cycles of welfare and perpetuate the generations of dependence but just b/c you’re on welfare DOES NOT MEAN you were RAPED by your father/mother/brother/uncle ect… OR are ILLITERATE.

    So, although I do see where you’re coming from when you speak to Mary’s plight, but even then…I can’t understand why she wouldnt STAND UP and break the cycle. AS a mother you take on an innocent life that depends on you and looks to you for love, support, guidance, and most important SAFETY…. Mary is JUST AS BAD or even WORSE than the father b/c she not only allowed it but further engaged in it….

    This movie really made me sick. I just couldnt bare to watch it again. AMEN for the freaken homosexual teacher and AMEN for the socail worker….and AMEN for nurse john…the only positive male character in the movie…

    STOP THE EXCUSES. STOP FEELING SORRY FOR people who PERPETUATE the abuse.

    BREAK THE CYCLE! It has to start with someone.

  • unknown

    Your review is very well written and I see your point of view in many aspects. I never thought about Mary, the mother, until you brought it up here. I too, just hated her and her character, and what she stood for.

    And even after reading your review and conceding some valid points that you make, I still can’t feel anything for the mother. Here’s my problem with it all…

    I get it, people who are abused, then abuse others. Maybe Mary was abused herself. Clearly the bf yelled at her to “shut her fat mouth” when she asked why he would do this to her baby? … but i still can’t ACCEPT it and will never get it.

    if someone hurts me…if I live through pain, day in and day out…then WHY would i do it to another??? why would i inflict the pain on someone else that i know deep in my heart… only a very very sick person does.

    The cycle NEEDs to be stopped. Mary SHOULD have rose up and DIED before she let any man RAPE her daughter…. the fact that she then becomes “jealous” and proceeds to molest her daughter….this further makes me want to vomit…

    another problem i have with all this drama is not EVERY PERSON WHO IS ON WELFARE IS A SCAM SEEKING person. Some people, black, white, hispanic, native american, you name it….just freaken NEED the HELP! yeah there’s some people who live in cycles and cycles of welfare and perpetuate the generations of dependence but just b/c you’re on welfare DOES NOT MEAN you were RAPED by your father/mother/brother/uncle ect… OR are ILLITERATE.

    So, although I do see where you’re coming from when you speak to Mary’s plight, but even then…I can’t understand why she wouldnt STAND UP and break the cycle. AS a mother you take on an innocent life that depends on you and looks to you for love, support, guidance, and most important SAFETY…. Mary is JUST AS BAD or even WORSE than the father b/c she not only allowed it but further engaged in it….

    This movie really made me sick. I just couldnt bare to watch it again. AMEN for the freaken homosexual teacher and AMEN for the socail worker….and AMEN for nurse john…the only positive male character in the movie…

    STOP THE EXCUSES. STOP FEELING SORRY FOR people who PERPETUATE the abuse.

    BREAK THE CYCLE! It has to start with someone.

  • joy may

    I think the character of Mary is illiterate.
    This woman may have a ‘worldy’ education limited by and to her own life experiences; but she doesn’t have an academic ‘worldy’ education which would be unlimited,puncuated and illuminated by social and academic successes.

  • joy may

    I think the character of Mary is illiterate.
    This woman may have a ‘worldy’ education limited by and to her own life experiences; but she doesn’t have an academic ‘worldy’ education which would be unlimited,puncuated and illuminated by social and academic successes.

  • joy may

    Following on breifly, Mary’s daughter Precious has academic success she is amongst the top students in her math class. Despite the fact she cannot read or write.
    What does that say about literacy. In the modern world Literacy is everything. Igorance is it bliss? What it is to be ‘uncultured’ or ‘incultured. Not Cultural but cultured. Who set the standards for the constructs for race and culutre? Spot the spelling and grammatical mistakes and tell me if I am and educated or not! is Mary an educated woman is Mary’s parents ‘educated’in any way.

  • joy may

    Following on breifly, Mary’s daughter Precious has academic success she is amongst the top students in her math class. Despite the fact she cannot read or write.
    What does that say about literacy. In the modern world Literacy is everything. Igorance is it bliss? What it is to be ‘uncultured’ or ‘incultured. Not Cultural but cultured. Who set the standards for the constructs for race and culutre? Spot the spelling and grammatical mistakes and tell me if I am and educated or not! is Mary an educated woman is Mary’s parents ‘educated’in any way.

  • Ywndricka

    In my opinion, Clareece “Precious” Jones did not define the movie. Her character was more of a supporting actor. Precious utters profanities but seems passive until she fights Mary. Mary seems to be the leading lady and I was appalled by her actions in the movie. Although it was an inconceivable plot with little or no foreshadowing, I did not shed a tear for Precious. Precious was a strong adolescent girl who had to the will-power to overcome some of her adversities.

    Most people assume, a mother is a nurturing soul with a bond like no other. When Mary describes Precious being molested for the first time that’s when I realized I could relate to Precious and Mary on so many levels. While my mother, Jahree did not allow men to sexual abuse/rape me right before her eyes… she is as guilty as Mary.

    My childhood was like a sentence to death row and my so call mother was right there ready, willing and able to permeate my body with the lethal injection. When I was 12 yrs old, I went to the swimming pool without my mom’s permission and my mom beat me with two extension cords twisted together as soon as I walked in the door. I was able to explain the digital penetration that I had endured at the hands of my neighbor in the pool. I almost drown because this grown man molested me for no reason. Then there was the attempted rape by my cousin and my mom saw him viciously attack me with a broom. She told my him, “boy that’s your cousin.” There were so many incidents as a child that I felt unloved by my mom.

    While I thought the movie, Precious could have been better, I commend Monique for making the whole story come to life.

    I heard Oprah say there is a Precious in all of us. Oprah, are you really an educated billionaire? Not all women can relate to Clareece “Precious” Jones, Queen Latifah, Monique, Teri Hatcher, Oprah, Gabrielle Union and I, we are survivors of sexual abuse and/or rape. I did not want to see the movie and if this story is loosely based on true events than it is unfathomable for most but was not as bad (of a rape) as I expected it to be. Whoopi this is definitely RAPE, RAPE…

  • Ywndricka

    In my opinion, Clareece “Precious” Jones did not define the movie. Her character was more of a supporting actor. Precious utters profanities but seems passive until she fights Mary. Mary seems to be the leading lady and I was appalled by her actions in the movie. Although it was an inconceivable plot with little or no foreshadowing, I did not shed a tear for Precious. Precious was a strong adolescent girl who had to the will-power to overcome some of her adversities.

    Most people assume, a mother is a nurturing soul with a bond like no other. When Mary describes Precious being molested for the first time that’s when I realized I could relate to Precious and Mary on so many levels. While my mother, Jahree did not allow men to sexual abuse/rape me right before her eyes… she is as guilty as Mary.

    My childhood was like a sentence to death row and my so call mother was right there ready, willing and able to permeate my body with the lethal injection. When I was 12 yrs old, I went to the swimming pool without my mom’s permission and my mom beat me with two extension cords twisted together as soon as I walked in the door. I was able to explain the digital penetration that I had endured at the hands of my neighbor in the pool. I almost drown because this grown man molested me for no reason. Then there was the attempted rape by my cousin and my mom saw him viciously attack me with a broom. She told my him, “boy that’s your cousin.” There were so many incidents as a child that I felt unloved by my mom.

    While I thought the movie, Precious could have been better, I commend Monique for making the whole story come to life.

    I heard Oprah say there is a Precious in all of us. Oprah, are you really an educated billionaire? Not all women can relate to Clareece “Precious” Jones, Queen Latifah, Monique, Teri Hatcher, Oprah, Gabrielle Union and I, we are survivors of sexual abuse and/or rape. I did not want to see the movie and if this story is loosely based on true events than it is unfathomable for most but was not as bad (of a rape) as I expected it to be. Whoopi this is definitely RAPE, RAPE…

  • Ywndricka

    Opps, it is suppose to read: I was not able to explain the digital penetration that I had endured at the hands of my neighbor in the pool.

  • Ywndricka

    Opps, it is suppose to read: I was not able to explain the digital penetration that I had endured at the hands of my neighbor in the pool.

  • Mary

    I don’t think the character of Mary was one dimensional at all. I think the movie is realistic in presenting a woman like her – a woman with such thick walls, so much fear. You judge Mary the way you judge people in real life – by how she ACTS. Then, when she finally speaks, from the heart and for real, so many of those actions take on a different shade. To me, this is the point of the movie and the character. Yes, people are judged by their actions in our society. And their actions are often not pretty. But the reasons for those actions – those, we have a hard time looking at, not because they’re ugly, but because they humanize the perpetrator to such an extent that we can relate. We don’t want to relate to Mary. I sure didn’t. But when she finally broke, I did. This movie does not cater to political correctness, and for that I thank everyone involved.

    You feel offended because you think the movie promotes a lack of understanding of people like your mother. Well, I applaud it because I think it does the opposite. That your mother was able to rise above the pressures of her life and raise independent daughters is a testament to her strength. She’s not Mary, and that’s a good thing. When you make a movie about your mama, you can present her in golden robes if you want. But I’m grateful somebody finally decided to shine a light on THIS mama. Not everybody is Florida Evans.

  • Mary

    I don’t think the character of Mary was one dimensional at all. I think the movie is realistic in presenting a woman like her – a woman with such thick walls, so much fear. You judge Mary the way you judge people in real life – by how she ACTS. Then, when she finally speaks, from the heart and for real, so many of those actions take on a different shade. To me, this is the point of the movie and the character. Yes, people are judged by their actions in our society. And their actions are often not pretty. But the reasons for those actions – those, we have a hard time looking at, not because they’re ugly, but because they humanize the perpetrator to such an extent that we can relate. We don’t want to relate to Mary. I sure didn’t. But when she finally broke, I did. This movie does not cater to political correctness, and for that I thank everyone involved.

    You feel offended because you think the movie promotes a lack of understanding of people like your mother. Well, I applaud it because I think it does the opposite. That your mother was able to rise above the pressures of her life and raise independent daughters is a testament to her strength. She’s not Mary, and that’s a good thing. When you make a movie about your mama, you can present her in golden robes if you want. But I’m grateful somebody finally decided to shine a light on THIS mama. Not everybody is Florida Evans.

  • Mary

    PS – There are lots of stories of damaged and damaging WHITE mothers (and fathers) out there, too many to even name. Are we going to reach a point where we’re willing to show all sides of our culture, or are we going to continue to stay in this sanitized state of supposed correctness?

  • Mary

    PS – There are lots of stories of damaged and damaging WHITE mothers (and fathers) out there, too many to even name. Are we going to reach a point where we’re willing to show all sides of our culture, or are we going to continue to stay in this sanitized state of supposed correctness?

  • willy meeks

    That monstrously fat chick needs to loose some weight. Good Christ she is so fat when she lay around da houze she really lay AROUND da houze. Imagine her big fat feet. BLECCHHH!

  • willy meeks

    That monstrously fat chick needs to loose some weight. Good Christ she is so fat when she lay around da houze she really lay AROUND da houze. Imagine her big fat feet. BLECCHHH!

  • willy meeks

    Oprah was another fat black chick dat made it big because she waz fat. What talen she gots readin da cue card. she big and fugly and stedman aint neva gonna marry da bitch cause he no wants to be mr oprah winfrey.

  • willy meeks

    Oprah was another fat black chick dat made it big because she waz fat. What talen she gots readin da cue card. she big and fugly and stedman aint neva gonna marry da bitch cause he no wants to be mr oprah winfrey.

  • i really dont know what you are talking about here!

  • i really dont know what you are talking about here!

  • is this even about the movie?

  • is this even about the movie?

  • what are the two childrend’s name?

  • what are the two childrend’s name?

  • what are the two children’s name?

  • what are the two children’s name?

  • C

    Your quest to hoti the heart of Mary’s story is interesting but misguided to begin with. I do not have any inkling about Sandra and her circumstances but do about Mary. Before you go hammer and tongs against Lee Daniels, read the book he bases his film upon. He demonizes Mary because in the book she is more evil than on screen.
    Any attempt to try and get inside the circumstances of a child abuser with a view to ‘explaining’ the abuse sounds suspiciously like you were trying to see if she could get of lighter. Truth is, no matter what you are told, no matter where you come from and no matter what you think, you have a choice to act with kindness restraint and responsibility. Thinking feeling ever evolving human beings deserve ‘understanding’ and ‘justification’ only if they choose to exercise their humanity. As for abusing a 7 year old child, letting a man abuse a three year old baby and repeatedly hurling every form of inhumanity possible on hapless weak person under ones care is the job of monster not a human. She is ultimately a product of her own choices, not of particular forces , social , economic etc, make no mistake about it. Finally you misconstrue Mary’s humanity in the last few minutes of the film. There she lays bare her motives, selfish, monstrous and inhuman to the core. She chooses to put her relatively petty needs above the need to allow basic humanity to her own daughter, and in the last few moments of the scene she admits so in as many words.

  • C

    Your quest to hoti the heart of Mary’s story is interesting but misguided to begin with. I do not have any inkling about Sandra and her circumstances but do about Mary. Before you go hammer and tongs against Lee Daniels, read the book he bases his film upon. He demonizes Mary because in the book she is more evil than on screen.
    Any attempt to try and get inside the circumstances of a child abuser with a view to ‘explaining’ the abuse sounds suspiciously like you were trying to see if she could get of lighter. Truth is, no matter what you are told, no matter where you come from and no matter what you think, you have a choice to act with kindness restraint and responsibility. Thinking feeling ever evolving human beings deserve ‘understanding’ and ‘justification’ only if they choose to exercise their humanity. As for abusing a 7 year old child, letting a man abuse a three year old baby and repeatedly hurling every form of inhumanity possible on hapless weak person under ones care is the job of monster not a human. She is ultimately a product of her own choices, not of particular forces , social , economic etc, make no mistake about it. Finally you misconstrue Mary’s humanity in the last few minutes of the film. There she lays bare her motives, selfish, monstrous and inhuman to the core. She chooses to put her relatively petty needs above the need to allow basic humanity to her own daughter, and in the last few moments of the scene she admits so in as many words.

  • KK

    I read your comments and I agree in some places and disagree in others but, my obsession with this well acted movie has more to do with the total mess we, as Americans, have made of peoples lives by providing a system that invites layer upon layer of fraud and takes away all incentive to earn, learn and yearn. Mary could be any ghetto mother who has lost her focus and intends on making sure her offspring become good welfare providers like herself. This is what they know and this is what they have to offer.

  • KK

    I read your comments and I agree in some places and disagree in others but, my obsession with this well acted movie has more to do with the total mess we, as Americans, have made of peoples lives by providing a system that invites layer upon layer of fraud and takes away all incentive to earn, learn and yearn. Mary could be any ghetto mother who has lost her focus and intends on making sure her offspring become good welfare providers like herself. This is what they know and this is what they have to offer.

  • Brown Butterfly

    I am a survivor of child abuse and believe me I lived with a Mary Jones. As painful as it was to watch it was long overdue to tell this story. There are too many survivors of this type of madness that are reinjured every day when they are told no matter what, that is still your mother. Do not misunderstand me, I love my mother but know she would destroy me if she could. She certainly tried at every opportunity. I was born looking just like the man who she could not trap into marrying her by having me. She punished me everyday for the rest of my life with her.

  • Brown Butterfly

    I am a survivor of child abuse and believe me I lived with a Mary Jones. As painful as it was to watch it was long overdue to tell this story. There are too many survivors of this type of madness that are reinjured every day when they are told no matter what, that is still your mother. Do not misunderstand me, I love my mother but know she would destroy me if she could. She certainly tried at every opportunity. I was born looking just like the man who she could not trap into marrying her by having me. She punished me everyday for the rest of my life with her.

  • LC

    I think you are projecting your own life onto this movie. You’re mother may have been a product of soci-economic, race, class, and patriarchal issues, and did the best she could. However, Mary is not. Some people are selfish sociopaths. The extent of her sociopath tendencies are shown in the scene with the social worker… when she is confronted with the abuse to Precious all she can think of is herself. It is disgusting and manipulative.

    Sociopaths exist in every race and class demographic. Clearly she was not a product of the system because if she was then all or most women in her situation would have acted like her. The example of your mother makes your argument go away… your mother was in the same situation but did not abuse you.

    Please do not let your life situation make you sympathize with people that are selfish and disgusting.

  • LC

    I think you are projecting your own life onto this movie. You’re mother may have been a product of soci-economic, race, class, and patriarchal issues, and did the best she could. However, Mary is not. Some people are selfish sociopaths. The extent of her sociopath tendencies are shown in the scene with the social worker… when she is confronted with the abuse to Precious all she can think of is herself. It is disgusting and manipulative.

    Sociopaths exist in every race and class demographic. Clearly she was not a product of the system because if she was then all or most women in her situation would have acted like her. The example of your mother makes your argument go away… your mother was in the same situation but did not abuse you.

    Please do not let your life situation make you sympathize with people that are selfish and disgusting.

  • marsha

    What really happened punishment wise with the mother & father of precious??

  • marsha

    What really happened punishment wise with the mother & father of precious??

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  • Greg

    This was the most pathetic attempt at trying to intellectually analyze what are completely inexcusable actions. What you have done is basically the same as saying “lets try to understand why Hitler hated the Jews and empathize with him”. I don’t think so, buddy. I’m very much smack in the middle of the middle class America and I’ve known both very kind and generous people who were wealthy and ones that were very poor. I’ve also known very mean and selfish people who were wealthy and again, ones that were very poor. Money does not control a person’s morals. There is no excuse for Mary’s abuse of Precious because it is inexcusable. The audience is meant to hate her because someone capable of such evil should be hated, no matter how you try to justify it.