Push (by Sapphire)

25 05 2011

The cat didn’t much care for Precious the movie. It didn’t really transcend the tearjerker formula in content or acting performances, despite the fact that it was used as an exploitative tool by Mariah Carey to try and give her a more legitimate artistic status. Didn’t work for the cat. The cat realized a movie is often not as good as the book it was inspired by, so she decided to read the book Push by Sapphire instead, hoping that the book would redeem the movie somewhat. The cat was wrong.

Yes, of course, the content of this 1996 novel is a shocker – black illiterate overweight teenager Precious, pregnant for the 2nd time by her father, rejected and abused by her cruel mother. Big shock value. It’s advertised as a The Color Purple for the 90s. Empowering (black, suppressed )women and all that, you know.

Fitting too, since the 90s were exactly the decade when we started to become media-bombarded by dysfunctional family or other relationships,  traumatic childhood survival stories, etc. on all sorts of reality TV-shows. As if the reality of it all wasn’t enough, those people were exploited for the umpteenth time on TV. And the so-called elitist higher educated amongst us couldn’t get enough of our own moral superiority, claiming empathy and compassion, yet secretly – or no so secretly – gloating and reveling in our own voyeurism. And then there was Push the novel.

The cat didn’t much care for The Color Purple (deeming Toni Morrison’s Beloved far far superior both in lasting literary value as well as the honesty and heartfeltness of the story itself), so it shouldn’t have come as much of a surprise that she didn’t like Push all that much. Or really at all, actually. The story is there purely for its shock value. There’s fake authenticity and honesty in the language and the events narrated. It’s exploitative,  manipulating  both its own characters, which it tried to empower in the first place, and the reader. It’s perpetuating the voyeuristic tendencies of the morally superior (that’s you, that’s me). Oh, and if Sapphire weren’t black, we’d call this novel tendentious, if not racist.

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