The Sexist

Watching Precious Three Times: The Modern Asshole’s Defense

This Washington Post piece by Jonathan Capehart, which faults Precious actress Gabourey Sidibe for failing to drop everything in order to immediately entertain Capehart's every whim at the White House Correspondent's dinner, is brimming with oddly personal attacks. Capehart accuses Sidibe of being a "jerk," "horrible," not a "true star," lacking in "grace," and undeserving of his "pompoms." Them's fighting words, Washington Post columnist who is awkwardly frank about his bizarre sense of entitlement to private conferences with Hollywood actresses! (Thanks to Shakesville for the tip).

But the most ridiculous assertion in Capehart's column concerns WaPo colleague Jo-Ann Armao, a woman who claims to have "watched Precious three times."

Armao, a Post editorial writer who has watched Precious three times, was also on-hand to bash Sidibe at the White House Correspondent's Dinner, calling her "horrible." Capehart writes:

Back at the table, I sheepishly related the incident to my colleague Jo-Ann Armao. "Oh! She's horrible," Armao said in her wonderfully blunt way. She told me that she saw Sidibe at the pre-cocktails and told her that she'd seen "Precious" three times (an amazing emotional feat that only adds to my awe of Armao) and that she thought Sidibe's performance was "incandescent."

Record stop. Say you're in Sidibe's position. Some lady walks up to you "at the pre-cocktails," congratulates herself for watching a movie about incest on repeat, and then compares your performance to a light bulb. What do you do? You don't say, "Why is this insufferable asshole bothering me while I'm trying to get myself a fucking pre-cocktail?" Instead, Sidibe chose a far more horrific response: "I guess I should say, 'Thank you.'"

Wasn't Sidibe aware that she was speaking to a woman who has watched Precious three times, an amazing emotional feat that should only add to any reasonable person's awe of her? That scientists are currently hard at work studying the brains of people who have watched Precious three times in order to determine the evolutionary origins of their innate superiority to the rest of us? That watching Precious three times is now an absolute requirement for sainthood? That watching Precious three times is considered a persuasive character defense in criminal trials? ("I admit that I stole the flat-screen, your honor, but I will say in my defense that I went on to watch Precious three times on it"). That watching Precious three times confers upon you a lifetime exemption for ever being called an asshole, even when you are accusing a woman who was instrumental in actually creating said movie of being "horrible" for acting insufficiently impressed by the fact that you have watched Precious three times?

Photo via Wikipedia Commons.

  • Theresa

    You should never meet your idols, it's a very loaded situation. This person may be famous, but there is a good chance that they feel they never signed on for being the projection or repository of so many strangers' fantasies. You feel that you "know" them-- they know you do not. Meeting him/her is probably not going to go well.

  • PD

    Jeeeeez. I'm an occasional cosplayer-- meaning I play dress up for fun in public, which is completely undignified-- and I can attest to how annoying it is, when you are trying to eat or have a conversation with friends or run to the bathroom, to have a total stranger come up to you, interrupt what you're doing, and proceed to try and take your picture or draw you into a half hour conversation about how Naruto used to be awesome but jumped the shark with the Invasion of Konoha arc or whatever. I am talking about an incredibly small, insignificant scale of annoyance, so what Gabourey Sidibe goes through every day now I do not even want to think about.

    I'm not saying it sounded like Sidibe was as gracious as she possibly could have been-- but she doesn't have to be. Declining to drop what you're doing to talk to a stranger, no matter how famous you are, does not make you "mean," "horrible," or "not a true star."

    If they really want to use the "I've seen X movie Y times" defense, I've seen Labyrinth like 178 times, so by that logic David Bowie owes me a week in Belize or something. Capeheart and his pal need to calm their respective nuts.

  • Kit-Kat

    @Theresa--I totally agree. Just because you saw someone's movie does not mean that you guys are best buds. By his own admission, Capehart interrupted Sidibe during a conversation with someone else because he wanted to tell her what a fan he was, and he was tweaked that she told him to come back in five minutes. And the "I guess I should say thanks" comment might just be someone unsure of how to respond to such over-the-top praise, or perhaps thrown off by having a total stranger come up to you, announce that they watched your movie three times, and tell you you were incandescent, and possibly you think they are a little obsessed and stalker-y. Here's a hint--Sidibe didn't actually do anything rude, according to Capehart's story. She said no to having a photo taken with one person, asked another person not to interrupt her conversation, and was, at worst, a little awkward with a third. She just didn't act like those total strangers thought she should have.

  • kza

    She saw the movie three times. She pays Sidibe's salary! Sidibe should have dropped what she was doing and interacted with the fan!

  • Meaghan

    This is interesting because I'm sure if say Angelina Jolie or someone like that gives him the brush off he wouldn't bat an eye, but since she is a young black woman he expects her to just drop everything for him. And then he goes on to compare her to queen latifah? I don't understand why is comparing them? One is a mature woman with a long career, and the other is a very young newcomer. Just because they are black women they should act the same?

    (Yes I know he is african american, but still)

  • kza

    He's comparing them because they are fat in an industry that is populated with skinny people.

  • Meaghan

    That too

  • Resident85

    Thanks Amanda. Capehart's column was ridiculous.

  • Anita

    I think it was fair to say that Sidibe didn't play the diva role that she could have played. Phrases like, "That's nice. Did you actually want something important?" come to mind in response to hearing the number of times that someone watched her character's victimization. Of course, Armao would have been the one to walk away, feeling stalked, if Sidibe had taken her aside and asked her if she felt compelled to donate to the nearest domestic abuse organization or adopt an AIDS baby from the foster care system. If, in fact, Sidibe had "acted" as if her role as Precious was something bigger in her ongoing life than just her interpretation of a character, the snobs that cast her as a no class, flash in the pan would have cast her as a deluded, wannabe thespian.

  • Ekwunife

    Hi, i want to comments to the know he is african american but still.

  • MissaA


    This is interesting because I’m sure if say Angelina Jolie or someone like that gives him the brush off he wouldn’t bat an eye, but since she is a young black woman he expects her to just drop everything for him.

    Yes! This is exactly what I was thinking. I had the feeling that they were treating her more as a novelty, or roadside attraction, rather than as a person (who was clearly busy).

  • Amanda

    similar to MissaA and Meaghan, I can't help but feeling that there's some fat hatred going on here. I've felt, since Precious came out, that Sidibe has been less valued as an actress because she is a black woman and because she is fat. I think it has come out in a myriad of ways, and it's utter bullshit.

  • Jeannette

    finally, the perfect excuse to justify my racism, heterosexism, and general internalized superiority! could this perchance also apply to any other movies? I HAVE seen Crash 3 times...

  • http://CityDesk TONY

    Miss. Capehart has hormone problems!

  • Mike

    A few weeks, if not a month, Howard Stern said she's "the most enormous, fat black chick I've ever seen. She is enormous.", on his show. Apparently that wasn't newsworthy.