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'Precious' is a story worth telling

December 06, 2009

A 'Precious' reality

I assume that the grim irony is not intentional that the article on the mixed opinions of "Precious" ("Black Viewers Divide on Film's 'Precious'-ness," Nov. 29) appears in the same edition as the front-page article on Tylette Davis and her family, a "real life" story of ghetto poverty and fatal degradation.

Stereotypes, as Erin Aubry Kaplan suggests, are not necessarily false; they are excessive generalizations, misrepresenting a part for the whole. While one can appreciate some blacks' discomfort that Precious' story could be taken as broadly representative, that story should be told.

As a social critic said recently, our society has accepted that 15% of the people (mostly black) be taken as unnecessary, both economically and socially. The cost of that attitude must be shown and felt and changed.

David Eggenschwiler

Emeritus professor of English, USC

Los Angeles

Poverty is a multiracial story

The fact is "Precious" is not a black story. It merely puts a black face on poverty and underdevelopment.

This same story could have easily been about white, brown, yellow or red characters and been equally as believable and disturbing. Racially specific elements such as skin color and hair texture could have been replaced by some other racially specific longing (small nose, blond hair, blue eyes). "Precious" is unfortunately an American story about people trapped in grinding poverty, ignorance and violence. They live in Appalachia, on reservations and in ghettos. They are thin, tall, short and yes, fat. All have in common America's attempt to sweep them under the carpet and ignore their existence.

Asantewa Olatunji

Director of programming,

The Pan African Film Festival


When I first moved back to D.C. after 30 years in California, I was struck by the number of obese blacks, particularly black teenage girls. It's truly epidemic. Blacks who are repelled or concerned about the reality portrayed in the movie ought to devote their resources, energy and time trying to make a difference in the very communities that formed "Precious."

Tara Murphy

Washington, D.C.

Shakira's persona shines through

Congratulations for showcasing Shakira's uniqueness in light of recent "music news" that has been focused more on artists' attention-seeking behavior as opposed to the music itself ("Shakira has Domination in Mind," Nov. 29)

In a time when pop music has become the equivalent of a carefully marketed set of products, Shakira manages to keep her personal essence in her music and market herself in a way that is her own yet still satisfies her big-name record label.

Kudos to her for being a self-aware perfectionist, and kudos to The Times for recognizing her hard work.

Mohit Kripalani


First L.A. opera hunk: Rod Gilfry

Shame on Irene Lacher for her implication that Nathan Gunn is the original "barihunk" ("Fresh American Voice," Nov. 29). The truly first barihunk in Los Angeles, long before the term was coined, was Rod Gilfry.

He played Figaro in LA Opera's run of "The Barber of Seville" in the Chicago production in 1991. With all of his most gorgeous parts exposed in his opening scene.

Gilfry consolidated his "hunk" status some seasons later as Rio Lobo in "Florencia en el Amazonas" in which, in one scene, he appeared wearing little more than a gold lamé loin cloth and fly cables and in 2000 with a bare-chested scene in the title role of "Billy Budd." In 1998 he showed the rest of the world that he also had a gorgeous voice as Stanley Kowalski in San Francisco Opera's production of André Previn's opera of "A Streetcar Named Desire."

While I'm sure Mr. Gunn cuts a very fine figure, please don't forget that the "barihunk" is not a new phenomenon. Even though it's taken everyone such a long time to recognize and name it.

Raye A. Rhoads


Footnote to manga history

An interesting take on the origins of manga and anime ("Unfolding the Legend of Manga," Nov. 29).

Most people normally think it's Ukiyo-e masters like Hokusai that started the manga trend, but I've recently found that it may have been some unknown person from history who should be credited with being the manga master. I think kamishibai could be that answer. Thanks for the brief history lesson.

Posted by: Jade

From Culture Monster blog

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