For The Love Of It: ‘Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom’

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom: Viola Davis, Chadwick Boseman Star in New Images

I will say it again, we were robbed.

I had tried not to watch this movie. I won’t lie about it. Since I am still grieving Chadwick Boseman, I didn’t–I wasn’t prepared to see this movie. I thought I wouldn’t be able to handle seeing him on film, and knowing he was dead–I was hurt. And I still am.

With that grief, it pushed me from this movie–despite Viola being in it. I just wasn’t ready. I just wasn’t ready. For those of you that are unaware, this film is based on the August Wilson play of the same name (shameless plug: read August Wilson’s work.). I cheered when I heard that Denzel Washington was going to be producing the work of August Wilson. I was so happy, and still am!

In watching this movie, I was enthralled! I loved it! Not because I am a lit nerd, and not just because I’m a lit nerd! Everything was good from the writing, the music, and–as only August Wilson can—the dialogue was everything. Simply everything!

I love the Jazz Age anyway! I am a student of history anyway! I love period pieces anyway! So, to have all of those things in front of me, with an artist that I respect? With artists that I respect? It was glorious–it was a love letter to Blackness, and so well done. So, so well done. You have to be familiar with the power of August Wilson’s work to get the small details that are in the movie, and how powerful they are!

From the conversations the band has, to Ma being late and asking for her ‘cold Coca-Cola’, the nephew that stutters (badly!), and Ma not budging on what she wants–even down to the sauntering she did, and body language! I love this movie, and it affirms my love for August Wilson, moreso.

Black art matters.

Black artists matter.

Black stories matter.

Keep going y’all–we got more work to do.

[image from Netflix]