Anyway, the only interesting thing anyone said — that registered with me, anyway — was Mo'Nique: "It can be about the performance and not the politics." I highlighted that line last night, but then this morning, I realized I wasn't sure what she was talking about. Here's the whole text of what she said:
First, I would like to thank the Academy for showing that it can be about the performance and not the politics. I want to thank Mrs. Hattie McDaniel for enduring all that she had to so that I would not have to. Tyler Perry and Oprah Winfrey, because you touched it, the whole world saw it. Ricky Anderson our attorney of Anderson and Smith thank you for your hard work. My entire BET family. My Precious family thank you so much. To my amazing husband Sidney, Thank you for showing me that sometimes you have to forego doing what’s popular to do what’s right. And baby, you were so right!Now, what was she talking about? What did her husband encourage her to do that was "right" but not "popular"? I'm guessing that she worried about playing a character that would be viewed by many as a racist stereotype, and her husband convinced her that it was a great script and a great dramatic role and she's an artist who should decide based on what is right for an artist: artistic principles. And Oprah touched it, and that worked some magic, taking much of the power out of the accusations of racism that had to have been anticipated.
Here's a NYT Magazine article from last fall that, I think, explains it:
[The director Lee Daniels told Mo’Nique] he had a part for her that was “going to mess up your career. You are going to lose your world, your audience, your standing in the BET community.” Mo'nique was not fazed. “I did not hesitate!” she exclaimed on a warm day in September in New York City. “I said to Lee, if you want me to play this demon, I am there.”....And, by the way, there was no mention of Barack Obama in Mo'Nique's speech. From that NYT article:
Although Mo’Nique’s performance as Precious’s mother has generated talk of an Oscar, Daniels has heard complaints from the black community about the image her character projects. “They see the film as negative to black women,” Daniels said. “Black women are the pillar of the family. Black men have left, and how dare I stab at the one thing that’s helped. So I told Mo’Nique, ‘They’re going to hate you for this movie.’ She said, ‘Let them hate me.’ ”
[T]he movie is not neutral on the subject of race and the prejudices that swirl around it, even in the supposedly postracial age of Obama. “ ‘Precious’ is so not Obama,” Daniels said. “ ‘Precious’ is so not P.C. What I learned from doing the film is that even though I am black, I’m prejudiced....”And who knows what Samuel L. Jackson was thinking? Watch his reaction to the speech:
... “As African-Americans, we are in an interesting place,” Daniels said. “Obama’s the president, and we want to aspire to that. But part of aspiring is disassociating from the face of Precious. To be honest, I was embarrassed to show this movie at Cannes. I didn’t want to exploit black people. And I wasn’t sure I wanted white French people to see our world.... But because of Obama, it’s now O.K. to be black. I can share that voice. I don’t have to lie. I’m proud of where I come from. And I wear it like a shield. ‘Precious’ is part of that.”
Perhaps he was feeling some vindication in his own choice to play some pretty negative characters (rather than the idealized friend/helpmeet/savior/Morgan Freeman type that must not be all that rewarding to play).