Posts Tagged ‘Push’

Precious Thoughts, Part II

A few months ago, I spoke of my longing to see the movie, Precious. I was right — the movie didn’t come to any theaters even near Jamestown.  But, just the other day I was able to rent the movie, and I was not disappointed.  Not at all.  In fact, I think that the movie was one of the better novel adaptations I have ever seen.  Yes, it is true that the movie did tone down the language and the violence.  It’s also true that the movie does play into certain stereotypes that may make many people uncomfortable.  But I thought the performances were the best — including Mo’Nique’s role at the main character’s mother, who is cruel, but somehow (at least in my mind) comes off as a bit sympathetic.  Has anyone else seen this movie?  What did you think of Mariah Carey?  Did you even recognize her?  As for the ending scene — I was not startled by the content because I read Push, but I bet that people who have not read Sapphire’s novel were a bit shocked.

What I really liked about the movie (besides the main character’s resilience) was the depiction of teachers and social workers caught up in trying to help the many, many victims of poverty.  As a whole, I believe that this nation is very hard on both people who work in social services and teachers in public education, and most people really don’t realize how noble these positions are — and they are jobs with many, many disappointments and little to celebrate. 

My viewing leads me back to whether or not I will ever teach Push again.  The answer is yes — and I don’t want to focus on just the main character, but also the other roles in the novel and the movie.   I want to go back and read Push again through new eyes and think about all the supporting parts.

Precious Thoughts

A few years ago, I taught Push by Sapphire in my Modern Novel class.  I was surprised at how shocked my students were at the story.  I mean, really, this is the generation that sees people’s heads get chopped off on the Internet.  When I revised my Modern Novel course to teach it a second time, I took Push off the reading list and replaced it with The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison.  It wasn’t that I was afraid of shocking my students.  I just felt that I didn’t do a good job teaching Sapphire’s brillant novel.  On the other hand, there is a lot of critical material about The Bluest Eye — so I felt that I had more “help.” 

Now, with all the press out about Precious (the movie based after Push), I’m rethinking my decision.   Did I just chicken out of dealing with the Push’s themes of violence, incest, abuse, and poverty?  I know, of course, that The Bluest Eye deals a lot with the same themes; still, there is something far more disturbing about the issues in Push.  Or perhaps, it’s the way that Sapphire approached these issues — unflinching and almost matter of fact.  My Entertainment Weekly (I know — not a great “literary” source, but it works here) recently published a review of Precious stating “What’s terrifying about the abuse here is how casuallly it’s accepted as a fact of life, by both perpetrator and victim.”   I know that I have students who know this way of life.  Perhaps that is what made teaching Push so challenging.  And painful.

With all this said, I want to see Precious.  I know that it’s out in limited release — so I doubt that the film will make its way to rural New York.  Still, there is always DVD.  I also believe that this film has the power to make people talk.  Sapphire, of course, has not been silent about the challenges of making this film, and I’m looking forward to seeing the end result.