Frisky Rant: Lee Daniels’ NAACP Weight Gaffe Shouldn’t Have Been Deemed Offensive
The big to-do everyone is making over “Precious” director Lee Daniels’ acceptance speech at the 2010 NAACP Image Awards Saturday is unfounded. While accepting the Best Film honors, Daniels said, “No one in Hollywood told me they wanted to see a movie about a 350-pound black girl who had HIV.” After realizing his so-called “blunder” and that his statement could potentially embarrass breakout actress Gabourey Sidibe, Daniels tried to recover, saying: “She’s not 350 pounds … Gabby … But the book says … ” Sidibe sat in the audience shaking her head. Not only is this how author Sapphire described the title character in Push, but this is also a quote Daniels has given numerous times about the difficulties he faced trying to get “Precious” made. I can’t understand how people automatically thought he was referring directly to Sidibe. Perhaps folks were already far too aware of their discomfort with her size, and Daniels’ speech only reminded them of their prejudice, and they felt it politically correct to admonish him for it. However, this film doesn’t tell Sidibe’s story, and Daniels was referring to the character. Did audience members and viewers think Sidibe was HIV-positive too after Daniels’ speech? No, but since weight is such a controversial topic in our culture, the link between Precious and Sidibe was made. Sidibe knows she’s large and has given countless interviews in which she expresses how comfortable she is with her weight and how Hollywood needs to be more accepting, so it’s not a far stretch to argue that she would be comfortable at 350 pounds also. Nevertheless, sources say she was upset by Daniels’ remark. Sidibe has worn her weight like a badge of honor, but maybe she needs a sign that says: “I’m only proud to be 250 pounds” — or whatever the scale actually reads.