The movie Precious is a 2009 American drama film directed by Lee Daniels. Precious is an adaptation of the 1996 novel “Push” by Sapphire. The film stars Gabourney Sidibe, Mariah Carey, Mo’Nique and Paula Patton. The film takes place in Harlem in 1987 where an obese, 16 year old female named Claireece P. “Precious” Jones lives in a Harlem ghetto with her dysfunctional and abusive mother Mary. The family resides in a Section 8 tenement and subsists on welfare. Precious has been “invisible” to the father who rapes her and to the authorities who dismiss her as just another one of Harlem’s casualties.
But when Precious becomes pregnant with a second child by her father, Precious meets a determined teacher and a no-nonsense social worker and other supportive people who inspire her on her journey of education and enlightenment. Precious becomes resolved to improve her life for herself and her children. Gabourney Sidibe received an academy award nomination for her performance and her mother, played by Mo’Nique received the academy award for best supporting actress. This film portrayed several sociological, criminological and deviance issues.
Precious grew up being repeatedly raped since the age of three by her father, resulting in two pregnancies, one of which resulted in a Down’s Syndrome child named “Mongo”. The mother, when not verbally and physically abusing her at length, sometimes taking the time out to sexually abuse Precious as well. The ghetto black boys in the street taunt her when she walks by and shove her to the ground for kicks. Precious’s mom blames her for the fact that she was raped by her father, her mother also repeatedly curses at Precious’s children and treats them with disrespect.
Precious’s mother portrays many criminological theories throughout this movie. The first one that was very prominent throughout the movie was the mom portraying the Classical Theory, which is when crime occurs when the benefits outweigh the costs – when people pursue self-interest in the absence of effective punishments. Crime is a free-willed choice. Mary takes her aggression and issues with Precious’s father out on her daughter. Instead of getting to the root of her issues with him, she treats Precious like a piece of dirt. It is almost as if her mother is getting a sick pleasure out of seeing her daughter suffer, because that is how her elationship is with her own boyfriend. The crimes that she participates in against Precious are all based off her own-free willed choice. No one is making her beat, verbally abuse or rape her daughter. Precious was born into a family of abuse and neglect. Her own parents would be making love, while Precious was asleep next to them, and then the father would molest Precious. Mary would let him do these heinous acts upon Precious in fear of her own safety. She felt as though it was the only way to get Carl to love her, and keep him from leaving.
As the movie continues you find out that the mother actually blamed Precious for stealing Carl away from her, and that the hatred she has towards Precious is due to the fact that Carl loved her more. Unfortunately Precious was born into the Development Life Course theory, which is a developmental process that starts before birth and continues throughout the life course. Some theories predict continuity across the life course; others predict continuity for some offenders and change for other offenders; and some predict continuity and change for the same offender.
Precious did not choose this lifestyle but due to the unfortunate circumstances, she was born into this life style. As she grows she continues to make criminal decisions not because she wants to but because she has to in order to survive. She runs away from home, she steals and she continues to lie to authorities about her life at home. In Precious’s case it seems as though this Developmental Life course theory will not continue with her as she grows and matures in adulthood. In many situations those that are born into crime, continue on a lifelong path of crime.
Precious knows she wants to get away from the bad and improve her life for herself and her two children. During one scene Precious is at home washing dishes when her mom, who is unemployed and watches $10,000 Pyramid all day, asks Precious if she is going to start cooking. Mary then throws a heavy pan at Precious and knocks her out. A flashback of Precious’s father raping her occurs, and then the scene enters into Precious’s fantasy world where she goes to feel safe when she is overwhelmed by the horror around her.
Rather than her mother waking her up gently, she throws water on Precious’s face to rouse her from the floor. This scene portrayed the General Theory of Crime, Control and the Power of Control. The key factor in crime causation is the presence or absence of control. Mary felt as though she had full control over her daughter and her daughter’s actions. Forcing her to start dinner and then throwing a heavy pan at Precious because she had yet to start cooking is her way of showing the control that she feels she has over her daughter.
Rather than feeling sorry for hitting her and waking her up gently, she pours water all over her. This proves that her mother thinks she is the main source of power and control in Precious’s life. It seems as though Mary gets a euphoric feeling over controlling and constantly abusing her daughter. During one scene of the moving Precious needs money for food before leaving the house. Her mom Mary is too busy in bed, pleasuring herself, but asks Precious to come up and take care of her. Precious states that she wishes the sexual abuse would stop.
After she finishes dealing with her mother, Precious goes to a fried-chicken shop and orders a bucket of chicken, but runs off with it before paying. She eats the whole bucket on the way to school and then throws up. This scene reminded me of the Peacemaking theory, even though what Precious is doing it not at all peacemaking for the owner of the friend chicken shop. She is making peace with herself and her own suffering. Crime is caused by suffering, which is linked to injustice rooted in inequality and daily personal acts of harm.
Precious is suffering on a daily basis with her family and her life style; she has no other way to fend for herself other than committing another criminal act on top of the one she is living. That scene was so upsetting, seeing that this child is going through so much pain and torture and in order to make peace within herself as well as feeding herself she is forced into going out and stealing her own dinner. During Precious’s second pregnancy she was called into the principal’s office, Mrs. Lichtenstein. Mrs. Lichtenstein then proceeded to ask Precious, “Are you pregnant, again?! Rather than showing compassion towards this innocent 16 year old child, she shows disgust. She then proceeds to raise her voice at Precious and says, “your sixteen years old, still in junior high school, and pregnant again, what happened? ” This principal is portraying many aspects from the Anomie theory. This theory is based off of when “norms” weaken and ‘anomie’ ensues, creating high crime rates. It is described as the breakdown of social bonds between an individual and their community, if under unruly scenarios possibly resulting in fragmentation of social identity and rejection of self-regulatory values.
This principal pushed Precious away because she looked at her as just another teenage pregnancy statistic. Rather than digging and finding the root of the problem, she pushed her away just like she did with most of the children in her school. Mrs. Lichtenstein worked in a tough school district but instead of pushing the children in the right direction she would just look at them as another Harlem causality. The anomie theory shows that authority figures become almost numb to these types of situations and allow the crime to go on around them because they are overwhelmed with situations that seem more crucial than ones like Precious.
Many times in large cities where there is a higher crime rate the anomie theory seems to happen quite often. For instance, many cops are working double time and lacking on sleep as it is in order to keep the streets safe. If they run into a situation, such as Precious, they just think that this child is looking for attention and would rather send her home and get back on the streets to deal the issues like gun violence or the war on drugs. What they do not realize is by settling these smaller crimes; in the long run they will be preventing larger crimes from happening.
The principal ended up going to Precious’s house and seeing her lifestyle and her mother. Just from viewing the movie I knew that the situation this 16 year old was living in did not look safe for Precious or her young children. Rather than turning her back on Precious, she should have demanded more information from her and her parents. After the principal leaves, Mary becomes extremely upset and verbally abuses Precious, blaming her for bringing the white woman to her house. Mary also got upset because she believed that having any visitors around might jeopardize the welfare check payment.
Mary is scamming the system, by receiving money for Precious’s daughter with Down Syndrome. This movie portrayed numerous aspects of criminological, sociological and deviance theories. A few other highlighted sociological issues included, racism, illiteracy, poverty, STD’s and healthcare for the poor. Unfortunately this movie is just one story of many living through this nightmare on a daily basis. Thankfully Precious joins an incest support group where she meets other people who have suffered, finding solace in knowing that she is not alone.
While attempting to transition to life on her own, Precious’ mother unexpectedly appears to tell her that her father has died from AIDS. Precious discusses this with her friends at school and they convince her to get Abdul and herself tested. Abdul is negative and Precious is positive. In the end, Precious finds her freedom and security in knowing that she can care for her son and herself on her own. Without the help of Ms. Rain, who is the teacher that mentors Precious, she would never have gotten away from the horror and pain she was living in.
Precious finally breaks free of the theoretical stereotypes that so many people in the community believed she would fall into. This movie was very intense and at times hard to watch. It was shocking to see the people in positions to help her just push her away and look at her as hopeless and a waste of time. I hope that people view this movie and realize that many people in the country are living like this and it is not acceptable. I truly hope Precious is living a life free of the pain and crime that she was unfortunately born into.