Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Sony Hack Reveals the Insufferable Whiteness of Hollywood Sony Hack Reveals the Insufferable Whiteness of Hollywood '106 & PARK' Says Goodbye Today, Dec 19 at 6pm, w/ Live, 2-hour, Star-Studded Finale! '106 & PARK' Says Goodbye Today, Dec 19 at 6pm, w/ Live, 2-hour, Star-Studded Finale! First Image of Queen Latifah as Bessie Smith in Upcoming HBO Biopic First Image of Queen Latifah as Bessie Smith in Upcoming HBO Biopic Review: Chris Rock's 'Top Five' Took Me Places I Wouldn't Expect a Chris Rock Film to Go Review: Chris Rock's 'Top Five' Took Me Places I Wouldn't Expect a Chris Rock Film to Go The Gift That Keeps on Giving - Leaked Sony Email Challenges Denzel Washington's Overseas Box Office Appeal The Gift That Keeps on Giving - Leaked Sony Email Challenges Denzel Washington's Overseas Box Office Appeal Backlash Against New VH1 Series 'Sorority Sisters' Backlash Against New VH1 Series 'Sorority Sisters' Tessa Thompson Books Female Lead Role in Ryan Coogler's 'Creed' Opposite Michael B. Jordan Tessa Thompson Books Female Lead Role in Ryan Coogler's 'Creed' Opposite Michael B. Jordan Samuel L. Jackson Has His Own Challenge for Other Celebrites in Reaction to "Racist Police" (Watch) Samuel L. Jackson Has His Own Challenge for Other Celebrites in Reaction to "Racist Police" (Watch) Why Aren’t We Talking About the Sexual Assault in 'Beyond the Lights'? Why Aren’t We Talking About the Sexual Assault in 'Beyond the Lights'? Page to Screen Possibilities for Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's 'Americanah' (Lupita Nyong'o, David Oyelowo Starring) Page to Screen Possibilities for Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's 'Americanah' (Lupita Nyong'o, David Oyelowo Starring) David Oyelowo Joins Lupita Nyong’o in 'Americanah' Film Adaptation David Oyelowo Joins Lupita Nyong’o in 'Americanah' Film Adaptation Leaked Sony Emails Reveal Interest in Destiny's Child Biopic + Immersive Kanye West Feature Film Experience Leaked Sony Emails Reveal Interest in Destiny's Child Biopic + Immersive Kanye West Feature Film Experience What Sony Pictures Chief Amy Pascal Should Do if She Sincerely Wants to Make Amends What Sony Pictures Chief Amy Pascal Should Do if She Sincerely Wants to Make Amends Woody Allen Says He Won’t Hire a Black Actor Unless the Role Calls for One... Whatever That Means Woody Allen Says He Won’t Hire a Black Actor Unless the Role Calls for One... Whatever That Means My MoviePass Experience - What Works & What Could Be Improved (The Movie Theater Subscription Service) My MoviePass Experience - What Works & What Could Be Improved (The Movie Theater Subscription Service) Co-Screenwriter of 'Noah' Explains Why There Are No Black People Or POC In The Film Co-Screenwriter of 'Noah' Explains Why There Are No Black People Or POC In The Film Aaron McGruder Finally Explains Why He Left 'The Boondocks' Aaron McGruder Finally Explains Why He Left 'The Boondocks' Lifetime Launches New Series Set In Elite World Of Hip-Hop Majorette Competitions (Watch Preview) Lifetime Launches New Series Set In Elite World Of Hip-Hop Majorette Competitions (Watch Preview) Netflix Explains Why It Doesn't Always Have That Film Or TV Show You Really Want To See (Video) Netflix Explains Why It Doesn't Always Have That Film Or TV Show You Really Want To See (Video) Tichina Arnold Says She Talked To Martin Lawrence About Doing A 'Martin' Movie... Tichina Arnold Says She Talked To Martin Lawrence About Doing A 'Martin' Movie...

'Precious Jones' And Our Conditioned Classist Thoughts - Something Worth Exploring?

Shadow and Act By Malcolm Woodard | Shadow and Act February 5, 2013 at 3:19PM

Let me preface this post by saying that I despise labels and hierarchies in general. They are divisive, instead of unifying, and I'm always looking for ways to break them down. Unfortunately, this is the society we've all helped create, whether passively, or intentionally, so one has to deal, otherwise others will deal for you.
29
Eric Deggans

Let me preface this post by saying that I despise labels and hierarchies in general. They are divisive, instead of unifying, and I'm always looking for ways to break them down. Unfortunately, this is the society we've all helped create, whether passively, or intentionally, so one has to deal, otherwise others will deal for you.

All that said, please indulge me with something I'm currently working through below. It's all part of my research for a much larger grad school project I'm working on.

What if Lee Daniels' Precious, was a comedy?

What if Soul Plane, or Booty Call and similar comedies were serious dramas?

I'm wondering if what I'm calling our conditioned classist thoughts influence how we receive films like those I mentioned above.

What I'm getting at is that we seem to prefer that onscreen portrayals of our (black) working class and poor be dominated by images that generate feelings of sympathy and empathy from the audience, directed towards the characters within the story, which is an attitude that we could say satisfies our own need to feel somehow superior.

We want to see our poor and working class, poor and working to raise themselves out of that neglected, marginalized group that they belong to. We want the drama; we want the blood, the sweat and the tears, all borne out of our conditioned classist thoughts. We don't want to see them celebrating, and relishing life the way we do; We don't want to see them be silly, or having fun, and entertaining themselves, like the rest of us do.

We want them in a box, locked in with every oppressive, pity-inducing adjective one can think of, and we can look down on them with our sympathy, as long as they stay in that box.

When they refuse to stay in that box, and instead are portrayed onscreen in a manner our classist conditioning isn't accustomed to, we become upset and react accordingly, still in a condescending manner, except, instead of a pity-infused reaction, we become aggressive and dismissive of them, using derogatory terms to "shame" them down, and back into that box - like saying that they're acting "ghetto" or "ignorant," or like "coons and buffoons," and more. Or that they're "niggers" as we try to separate ourselves from them - us, the supposed "sophisticated black folks."

So, with regards to a film like Precious, I wonder just how different our reactions would be, if the tone and mood of the film were completely opposite to what they are now, and the story of Precious Jones - an eternally suffering, poor young woman's story - was actually a comedic one, akin to comedic films about people of a similar socioeconomic class.

And I wonder if we would be thinking about films like Soul Plane, Booty Call and others any differently than we do, if they were serious dramas, not unlike other dramas about people of the same socioeconomic class.

Going a bit further, and slightly off track, one major aspect of Tyler Perry's movies that turns most of us off is the comedic aspect of them. By that I mean the Madea character. Take her out of the movies she's in, and, while we may not all instantly swoon in acceptance of the end result, I think our reactions won't be as hostile, because what will be left will be just another melodrama, not unlike similar films from T.D. Jakes, which were better received critically than those by Tyler Perry.

Can you all see where I'm trying to go with this, even though I may not be doing the best job of expressing my thoughts here? But I think a foundation has been laid. So, what do you think? Am I completely off, or is there something to this for me that is worth further exploring, discussing and deconstructing?


Shadow & ActNewsletter