With no other way to explain the marks on her body to her husband, she cries rape and when the townsmen ask her who has done this terrible thing, the white woman, predictably, shrieks, “It was a nigger,” her voice pitched in a way that makes your skin crawl.
The white men proceed to lose their minds, surrender to a mob mentality and create a lot of havoc, lynching an innocent black man and tormenting the townsfolk of Rosewood.
They applauded during inspiring moments and gasped or groaned or clucked their tongues during the uncomfortable or painful moments. As I walked to my car I came to the bitter realization that is a good movie. The cast is uniformly excellent and includes the immensely talented supporting cast of Cicely Tyson, Allison Janney and Sissy Spacek.
I would not be surprised if stars Viola Davis and/or Octavia Spencer receive Oscar nominations because not only do they do excellent work in the movie, Hollywood loves to reward black women for playing magical negroes.
Minny uses her mystical negritude to help Celia cope with several miscarriages and learn how to cook and at the end of the movie, the narrative leads you to believe that Celia indirectly empowers Minny to leave her abusive husband as if a woman of Minny’s strength and character couldn’t do that on her own.
Then Celia cooks a whole spread for Minny and allows the help to sit at her dining room table just like white folk, aww shucks. ” and Celia’s husband says, “You have a job here for the rest of your life.” Minny, of course, beams gratefully because a lifetime of servitude to a white family, doing backbreaking work for terrible pay is like winning the lottery and the best a black woman could hope for in the alternate science fiction universe of .
While I wondered how so many talented people signed on to this movie, the cast is not the problem here.
As others have noted, is endemic of a much bigger problem, one where in 2011, the best role available for a two-time Tony Award and one-time Oscar winner like Viola Davis is that of a maid.
When Minny is fired from that job, where she uses her negro magic to look after Hilly’s elderly mother, she goes to work for Celia Foote.
The women of the Junior League in Jackson ostracize Celia because she was pregnant when she married, is considered white trash and has committed other petty social sins.