“Precious,” Social Workers, and American Culture: What the Media is Saying
Social Workers Speak! has received more than 100 comments about ”Precious,” a harrowing film about an abused teen girl. The movie features pop diva Mariah Carey as her social worker, Ms. Weiss.
Comments have been mixed. Some social workers were put off by Carey’s portrayal while others had no problem with it. Some said the movie was exploitative while other social workers said the film put a needed spotlight on some ugly social ills, including domestic violence, illiteracy, and HIV/AIDS.
The comments from social workers reflect how the film is playing in larger public. Here’s a brief list of who is giving ”Precious” a thumbs up, thumbs down, or neutral review:
THUMBS UP: Mark Blankenship of the Huffington Post probably wrote the most sensitive take on the role of Ms. Weiss. Ms. Weiss helped Claireece finally break the cycle of abuse, he said.
“That’s where the system really works. It’s too late for Precious, but because of the system’s support, she takes an action that might free her son from his mother’s miserable fate. She sets him on a path toward self-confidence and love.”
THUMBS DOWN: Juan Williams in this Wall Street Journal column says “Precious” is just the latest iteration of “ghetto lit” — lurid escapist art for the black middle class.
NEUTRAL: The New York Times story “To Blacks, Precious Is ‘Demeaned’ or ‘Angelic,’” looks at why the movie is dividing the African American community. Some experts said the film demeans blacks while others say it is a powerful story that should be told.
THUMBS UP: Baltimore Sun critic Michael Sragow called the film “cathartic and exhilarating.” He also praised the role of the social worker Ms. Weiss in the story. “…Carey shows the catalytic strength of a social worker who completely honors her profession,” he said.
THUMBS DOWN: Respected New York Press critic Armond White said “Precious” is the most demeaning image of African Americans put on the screen since “Birth of a Nation” almost a century ago. “Shame on Tyler Perry and Oprah Winfrey for signing on as air-quote executive producers of ‘Precious,”" he wrote.
THUMBS UP: Boston Globe critic Wesley Morris in his review said the film is sensational but does not exploit or condescend. But is colorism at play? Why are all the good characters, including social worker Ms. Weiss, light skinned?
THUMBS UP: The New York Times’ Richard Bernstein called “Precious” a modern-day Cinderella story. Ms. Weiss and Blu Rain, the teacher who helps Claireece learn to read and escape her horrid surroundings, are fairy godmothers.
Do you want to hold a discussion group about “Precious”? Lionsgate Studio offers this excellent discussion guide that includes statistics on many of the social issues the movie addresses: Precious Discussion Guide| Leave A Comment