This essay views the most explicit scene of sexual violence in the film Precious: Based on the Novel "Push" by Sapphire (2009) through a black feminist optic to argue that the sequence of physical abuse, followed by the flashback of father-daughter rape, and the subsequent fantasy red carpet scene foregrounds the vexing problematics of cinematic rape representations. My discussion is structured around three related arguments. First, the possibility that the trigger leading to a flashback could be the evidence of Precious suffering from rape trauma syndrome is undermined in the narrative's broader context. Second, the red carpet scene draws the spectator away from rape, replacing the abject spectacle of incest with glamour, celebration, and celebrity. Third, the metatextual signs within the fantasy scene unsettle the viewer's affective reaction to the rape scene. The essay focuses on each of these premises to argue that placing the rape scene within a larger discourse of sexual violence and deploying a black feminist critique to do so serves to problematize the role of audience affect and incest narratives elaborated in Precious. Overall, throughout this essay I bring together black feminist theoretical approaches, rape cultural criticism, and affect studies, making critical interventions that both consider the role of audience affect in rape representation and challenge the conventions of incest narratives in African American cultural production.


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pp. 139-160
Launched on MUSE
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