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Ways to object to “Precious.”

Ways to object to “Precious.” (photo)

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For anyone familiar with habitual barnburner Armond White and his politics, it’s zero surprise that the NY Press critic objects strenuously to “Precious.”

His review of the film has, as usual, much food for the comment trolls, particularly in his insistence that, by attaching their names and confessing personal histories of abuse, Tyler Perry and Oprah Winfrey are converting “their private agendas into heavily hyped social preoccupation,” which I guess means… child abuse is really just another way for a couple of whiny celebrities to beg for attention? He also compares “Precious” to “The Birth of a Nation” and does a good job of hiding the fact that he does have a point — any movie that features a morbidly obese black woman stealing a bucket of fried chicken probably isn’t as nuanced as it thinks it is.

Just to make sure he alienates any potential allies, though, White saves his best salvo for the last paragraph, reminding everyone that no matter how much he dislikes any given movie, he hates his fellow critics more. The same Armond who instructed us not to trust any critic who endorsed “WALL-E” (effectively all of them) says that what was even worse than “Precious” itself was “the ordeal of watching it with an audience full of patronizing white folk at the New York Film Festival.” He then proceeds to commit his semi-factual error for the week, proclaiming his certainty that the crowd at Harlem’s Magic Johnson theater would laugh it off the screen; would that be the same theater where it was test-screened pre-Sundance and widely acclaimed? Yup. Arguing this on strictly racial lines won’t work.

Still, I have to concede a point to Mr. White — there do seem to be plenty of guilty white liberal critics signing off on this movie for reasons other than pure admiration, as patiently spelled out by the L Magazine‘s Mark Asch. Even the judicious pan from Slate‘s Dana Stevens’ hedges its bets in the headline with an apologetic “Sorry, I didn’t like this movie.”

Meanwhile, way to the right of Armond sits a Wall Street Journal editorial by Juan Williams, which is about how awesome “The Cosby Show” was and how terrible ghetto literature is and how it encourages pathological images of blackness sold back to the community. Basically, it’s like an episode of “The Boondocks” without the jokes. But you could substitute pretty much any cultural artifact Williams disapproves of for “Precious” and have the same ready-made editorial.

Still, my favorite objection to “Precious” is an entirely common-sense one from Newsweek, where, in a brief but well-done piece, Jennie Yabroff points out that Precious loves math class at the start of the movie, but upon entering alternative school is encouraged to journal her life away and never does math again. “The world does not reward self-expression as readily or consistently as it rewards a good head for numbers,” Yabroff scolds, pitilessly dissecting the cliche of self-rehabiliation through journaling. This polemic in favor of math education being celebrated on-screen is actually a far more trenchant analysis of the film than any of the criticism thus far.

[Photo: “Precious: Based on the novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire,” Lions Gate, 2009]

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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