On Precious star, Gabourey Sidibe:
Precious: Based On The Novel Push By Sapphire, is extremely powerful, but I sincerely doubt it will change anything for black actresses in Hollywood. The film is strong, but not that strong.
Even if totally successful on every level--from box office receipts to a cultural shift away from the paralysis of self-pity--Hollywood will continue to go along as it has gone. Too many people are satisfied with the cardboard darkies that supposedly represent black women on film in the past.
This is basically true, but it's important to acknowledge some other truths. Doing more than cardboard cut-outs in Hollywood is always tough. Furthermore, women--in general--are always hurting for decent roles. It's true that there is no black Meryl Streep, but I really can't think of another white one either.
But more than race, Sidibe is actually compromised by her size. I highly doubt that there will be very many roles for any woman, of any color, who is 300plus pounds. This is why I'm pretty numb to all the celebration of Precious's willingness to defy Hollywood's norms in terms of body image. The girl's size is part of the story. When I see Sidibe cast in a "normal" story, I'll be impressed.
One last thing--it's important to acknowledge why people go see movies. Escapism is part of it. In some respect, people want to live in a world where everyone is "pretty" or "handsome." Hollywood could probably loosen its standards, some. But in large measure, I don't think Hollywood is much worse than the audience it serves.