The movie's protagonist is "Precious," a girl who is raped and impregnated twice by her own father while living with an abusive mother who is envious of her for being impregnated.
In the beginning, the audience finds out that Precious is basically illiterate and has no talents. Her mother bullies her into eating too much in order to make her as fat, and she bullies her daughter by making sure all of her clothes are too tight. She makes her daughter as unattractive as possible.
Yet despite the evil situation that Precious is in, she perseveres through it and finds hope for her future. This is why the movie is iconic; it is based on a true story.
It reveals the dirty part of humanity that people sweep under the rug and pretend does not exist. It highlights what happens to a human character when it goes unchecked and unaccountable for its actions. It shows the audience why we should care and why we should have hope. Instead of being petty and focusing on the superficial, this movie proves that what is ultimately important is integrity and genuine relationships.
Another reason is that it shows the most effective coping mechanism when handling a traumatic situation. Precious is loved by the people who meet her and want to help her. Her social worker and her teacher both go out of their way to make sure that Precious can find independence from her mother. The reason that these characters do this is because they like Precious as a person. Despite the evil that Precious must endure, she uses a coping mechanism to emotionally escape becoming just like her mother or even worse. This coping mechanism is fantasy. Throughout the movie, every time Precious is faced with another damaging situation, she escapes in her head by creating a fantasy of being famous. She imagines herself flirting with other celebrities or having her photograph taken. She has no control over her own body, but she ALWAYS keeps the control over her mind. She refuses to become as evil as the people who abuse her. Instead of choosing to self-destruct, she chooses to escape in the only way that she can.
Despite our society's belief that being loved is being society's idea of attractive, this movie highlights how love is so much more than physical appearance. Instead, it's a genuine human connection that brings about the love in this movie. Precious is not the 'ideal" body type, but she has the "ideal" mind type. It does not matter how beautiful someone is on the outside, they cannot always love or be loved by a specific person.
The movie also explains why abusers abuse their victims. This is important because most victims do not understand why they are being abused. They believe that they are worthless because that is what their abusers want them to believe. The truth is that abusers want power over the abused in order to feel like they have a sense of control over their lives. They cannot control themselves, so they abuse the victims to feel that control. Precious' mother could not control her boyfriend, but she could control her daughter. The mother did this out of envy. Instead of controlling her envy, she took "revenge" upon her daughter. This is common in most abusers: instead of internalizing the problem, they blame their victims and use them to take out their frustrations. Personal power was more important to the mother than the "love" she had for her daughter.
Finally, instead of supporting the strange Freudian notions of the Oedipus/Electra complex, the movie denies these notions in support of the opposite idea.
The movie "Precious" is iconic. Despite all adversity, Precious becomes a writer because she learns how to properly read and write. Instead of being forced into submission by her mother for the rest of her life, she finds the right people to empower her to take care of herself and her son. It proves that love is stronger than bullying, and it shows us what love is not.