The round one winner in the battle of the on screen Mammies is Octavia Spencer, for her portrayal of Minny Jackson, the fried chicken loving, poop pie baking maid in The Help
“The Golden Globe for best supporting actress in a film went to Octavia Spencer who played a maid in the Civil Rights era movie “The Help.” Spencer quoted Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in her acceptance: “All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance.” Although the “Help” characters are fictional “they represent scores of real people,” she said. “The narrative itself is part of our fabric,” Spencer said backstage. “It’s important to keep the younger generation abreast of how far we’ve come, because this is really foreign to them.”
Somebody may need to tell CNN that The Help isn’t a Civil Rights era movie, at least not to its director and screenwriter, Tate Taylor:
“Civil rights is just the backdrop. I’m not qualified to make a film about civil rights. People say to me: ‘Why wasn’t there a lynching? Why aren’t there houses burning down?’ But that’s not what this story is. For me, the most horrific moment in the film is the scene where the maid is sitting with her panties round her ankles in a three-by-three plywood bathroom, like a cat in a litter-box, while an impatient white woman is tapping her foot outside. If people need to see blood and gore and can’t see how horrific that is – well, I don’t have answer to that.”
With “uplifting” dialogue like “Eat my shit!” to “Frying chicken make you tend to feel better about life”and “Minny don’t burn no chicken” it’s no wonder Spencer walked off with the award. Powerful, compelling stuff (eye-roll).
Chris Rock had a funny tweet in honor of the event:
@chrisrock: I’m glad Octavia won the golden globe . I Hope that means now she doesn’t have to clean up the place when the shows over
BWAHAHAHAHAHA good one Chris.
Too bad moviegoers didn’t get to hear Minny recite these stunning, WTF lines from the book, these truly uplifting and inspiring mantras for “the younger generation”:
Plenty of black men leave their families behind like trash in a dump, but it’s just not something the colored woman do. We’ve got the kids to think about. (Minny, Pg 311 of the novel)
“Can’t have no proper sandwich on no raw bread. And this afternoon I’ll make one a Minny’s famous caramel cakes. And next week we gone do you a fried catfish. . .” (Minny, Pg 140)
Gee, I wonder why Tate Taylor left out how Minny really felt about the Civil Rights Movement. I mean, one of the things so many people just looovvvvved about Minny in the book was how funny and clueless Stockett made her:
“I told Shirley Boon her ass won’t fit on no stool at Woolworth’s anyway.” (Pg 217, Minny speaking ill of a person holding a community meeting concerning staging a Woolworth sit-in)
And I know there are plenty of other “colored” things I could do besides telling my stories or going to Shirley Boon’s meetings-the mass meetings in town, the marches in Birmingham, the voting rallies upstate. But truth is, I don’t care that much about voting. I don’t care about eating at a counter with white people. What I care about is, if in ten years, a white lady will call my girls dirty and accuse them of stealing silver. Minny (Pg 218)
There’s also the scene the movie failed to include where Minny picks up a knife and chases down a naked pervert in a “noble savage” bid to protect Celia, who’s behind a locked door in the house. The pervert calls her a “fat black nigger” and Minny somehow misplaces the knife. Plus she runs out of breath cause she’s so heavy. This was one of the funniest scenes in the book to many readers. I suspect it’s also one of the many scenes that endeared this character to millions.
I think my favorite WTF moment was when Minny, an abused woman smacks her eldest daughter Sugar for laughing at Celia Foote, and then gives her Mammyish advice to grow on:
Excerpt from the novel
Then Sugar turned around, laughing with the others. She didn’t see the whap coming at her. Soapsuds flew through the air.
“You shut your mouth Sugar!” I yanked her to the corner. “Don’t you never let me hear you talking bad about the woman who put food in your mouth, clothes on your back! You hear me?”
Sugar, she nodded and I went back to my dishes, but I heard her muttering. “You do it, all the time.
I whipped around and put my finger in her face. “I got a right to. I earn it every day working for that crazy fool.”
(Pg 334, scene where Minny trains her daughter right)
Don’t feel too sad for Viola Davis. She’ll either win a SAG (Screen Actors Guild) award and there’s always the big one, The Oscars. Besides that, there’s the BET Awards, The Image Awards, The Soul Train Awards, The NAACP Awards, etc. and overseas awards plus regional awards.
Viola’s got her own equally riveting dialogue from the movie, such as “You is kind, you is smart, you is im-po-tent” which will melt Academy voters widdle hearts.
But either she or Octavia or someone from the film should also thank Abilene Cooper, the real life maid of Stockett’s own brother Robert and who served as the physical embodiment of Viola’s character, Aibileen Clark.
Read about Abilene Cooper’s connection to The Help in this post: http://acriticalreviewofthehelp.wordpress.com/2011/09/07/abilene-coopers-tale-continues/
To be continued . . .