Tuesday, October 27, 2009


I fully plan on paying good money at the box office to see 'Precious' in the theater next month. If, for no other reason, than this cover of last sundays NYTimes. This is Beauty. Robert Maxwell's striking portraits so often are. His rendition of Gabourey Sidibe for the Times interview of director, Lee Daniels is. . . Well. . . Stunning. Here she is suave, her hair is perfect. Her dress, regally elegant. Her pose radiates fierce confidence, graceful strength, and amusement all at the same time. This is what we so rarely see in any image portraying people of size. Which, I think, is what makes the image so arresting. We've become numb to the images that play up the negative. Highlighting asymmetric rolls and bulges in the worst possible relief then choose a setting that maximizes humiliation and frame for peak repulsiveness. There is none of that to be found here.

The article details the trials and ordeals Lee Daniels endured getting the movie made. A movie who's main character is fat, black, and female. It's not a comedy, it's not a love story, and most of the supporting cast, though well known, will probably be unrecognizable. No surprises that Hollywood wasn't exactly jumping to make this movie. Even less appealing to a Hollywood that drools like a Pavlovian dog over another, pointless 'GI Joe' / 'Transformers' sequel, Mr. Daniels wasn't interested in toning the movies graphic nature down to suit anybodies 'happy ending'. And he was adamant about the casting. Especially where the staring role was concerned.

Perhaps sensing the intense othering fat people often experience, he refused to use a fat suit or cast against type and auditioned down to the wire before finding Mrs. Sidibe. Citing her confidence and comfort in her size as key elements necessary to illustrate that she is much more than what she looks like. Fronting a fat, confidant, woman as someone an audience can empathize with, or even come to love. Hollywood take note; Real People showing real depth are worth paying money to see. Waifs are for kids who just download.

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