Hoo boy. Ready?
For this year’s Rule of Three — a series in which I review three related comedy films beginning April 1 — I am focusing on the works of Rudy Ray Moore.
I have a few reasons for doing this. Moore is a massively interesting figure, and a culturally important one as well. He’s a funny guy whose films I enjoy. His movies are ones I think are worth paying attention to. The recent biopic Dolemite is My Name got me interested in revisiting his work. I could continue, but let me instead give you something that emphatically is not a reason for doing this: I am not doing this because I have any business doing so.
It’s important to me that I make that clear up front, because for many people Rudy Ray Moore represents something that he cannot represent to me in the same way. He is a crucial data point in the history of black entertainment. Does that mean I can’t write about him? Of course not. Does that mean I have any right to speak about the importance of his work with authority? Of course not.
I’ve hesitated to cover with any thoroughness works about the black experience. Whether it’s The Boondocks or Get Out or, now, Rudy Ray Moore, these are things that I love…but I love them as a member of the audience, which is much different from understanding them from experience. I have the right to discuss (and the interest in discussing) them from the former perspective, but when something is so clearly charged (racially, politically, sexually, etc.) it feels like I would be doing the work a disservice to not view them through the appropriate lens.
I’ve linked to this before, and I’ll link to it again. It does a better job of explaining why I do not intend to rise to meet that challenge than I ever could.
I am going to cover Moore this year, but know that I do so with the full knowledge and with the direct confession that I am not the man to give these films their due. I will view them through the lens of a guy who loves watching and writing about movies. If you think these films deserve more than that, you are correct. They do. And I’d be behaving disrespectfully if I even pretended to be able to give them more.
I hope you enjoy the reviews — well, duh — but I also hope I get to hear from folks in the comments or elsewhere about what I’m missing, what I’m getting wrong, what I’ve been raised to overlook and to ignore. For anything you can learn from me, there are 10 things I could learn from you.
Here is the posting schedule. Dolemite, as I write this, is available to stream on Amazon Prime. You’ve got two weeks to check it out before my review goes live. Also, watch Dolemite is My Name on Netflix. I’m sure I’ll reference it but the main reason you should watch it is that it’s excellent.
April 1: Dolemite (1975)
April 8: Petey Wheatstraw, The Devil’s Son-in-Law (1977)
April 15: Disco Godfather (1979)
And with that decidedly serious introduction to movies about kung-fu-fighting prostitutes, magical pimp canes, and freshly roasted babies, I look forward to seeing how this particular experiment goes.
I’ll see you April 1.