I’m going to start this post with a simple appeal: If you haven’t seen the latest Lee Daniels’ film “Precious,” please set aside a few hours of your life to see this important movie.
Precious is based on the novel PUSH by Sapphire. I’ve been told by many who read the book that it doesn’t completely line up but still does a decent job.
No matter how you feel about the movie, you can’t argue that it exposes a very serious but often unspoken tale. Here’s one quick summary from IMDb:
“Claireece Precious Jones endures unimaginable hardships in her young life. Abused by her mother, raped by her father, she grows up poor, angry, illiterate, fat, unloved and generally unnoticed. So what better way to learn about her than through her own, halting dialect. That is the device deployed in the first novel by poet and singer Sapphire. ‘Sometimes I wish I was not alive,’ Precious says. ‘But I don’t know how to die. Ain’ no plug to pull out. ‘N no matter how bad I feel my heart don’t stop beating and my eyes open in the morning.’ An intense story of adversity and the mechanisms to cope with it.”
This summary covers a good portion of the movie, but there is more buried deep in the story. For most people to fully understand the significance of all that is presented, it’s almost as if you need to have some version of Cliff’s Notes or a reference guide.
Precious shares an important story. A touching story. A timely story. A story that needs some unpacking in order for the proper context to come out.
That said, I had to ask myself “Who is best suited to do this unpacking?”
The Director is an obvious choice. In her discussion about the new ads for the movie, Loryn fromBlack Girl Blogging had this to say:
“One criticism of the movie I agree with is that they didn’t give enough space in the film to talk about the social and political implications of WHY Precious lived the way she lived. Why did she think lighter skinned people were more beautiful with lives worth living? Why was she obese? Why did her mother abuse her and allow for her husband to rape his own daughter? None of these questions were answered through a sociopolitical lens, and that to me is a bigger marketing fail than the ads I’ve discussed earlier in this post.”
While I agree with idea that more time should have been given to these issues in the movie, the fact is that Precious is out there, and with the release of the movie came a major opportunity to start a serious discussion about everything that was not fully addressed in the film. A discussion with the masses.
In my guest lecture on social media and culture, I spoke to a room of non-profit professionals about two key things:
- How Social Media Fits Into Culture
- How Marketing/PR Professionals Can Harness that Power to Share a Greater Message
Through Precious’ story, so many important topics are briefly touched on. Welfare. The Economic Policies of the 1980s. Social Services. Alternative Education. Rape. Sexual Abuse. Child Abuse. Teen Pregnancy. Racial Identity.
Those are just the issues that are top of mind. I’m sure there are several more. My guess is that there are multiple companies, groups and/or associations out there doing great work to help people grappling with these issues everyday.
If you work with one of these groups, are you reaching everyone in your area in need?
Do those in need and those with ways to support know about your services? Does a greater conversation about these issues and ways to address still need to happen?
Are you a part of a larger conversation focused on this? One outside of your “issue area bubble”?
If not, how do you plan to join that conversation or start one of your own?
One of the beautiful things about art (film, music, poetry, etc) is its ability to draw the attention of the public and, for a period, focus it on issues that might get ignored in regular, everyday life. The way I see it, this movie is a great way to generate awareness about these problems, what your group has to offer, the things needed to address the issue and your group’s perspective on how we go about making the necessary changes.
As Public Relations professionals, we do a lot. Sometimes we tell stories. Sometimes we create programs and initiatives. Sometimes we help our companies and clients join the conversation. Sometimes we promote issues that are negatively affecting our society. Sometimes we provide greater context. And sometimes we take the opportunity to do all of the above.
There are opportunities all around us. Don’t miss yours.