Posts tagged: the help
Accurate description of this piece of shit.
lol, this movie isn’t about any white person/white people solving racism, but okay, sure.
I’ve never seen the movie so I guess I shouldn’t make any assumptions about it. But I’m under the impression this movie (and a whole lot of other movies too) has the whole idea of “black people needing white people to help them” and “black people can’t do anything without the help of white people.” That’s what the movie poster is trying to point out.
This movie is about a woman who just so happens to be white and just so happens to be one of the few in the movie that sympathize with the black women/men. She’s a struggling writer and decides to write a book based on real life stories from black women who are maids working for the white folk. The black women refuse to help out Emma Stones character at first for fear for their lives until something happens and their essentially pushed over the edge.
The movie is about people trying to open other peoples eyes about racism and how horrible it is, and I’m not sure it’s a bad thing that the people who are helping them out are white. And really, Emma Stones character is the only white person who even helps them out because practically every other white character in the movie aside from her characters mother are horrible human beings.
Here’s what one of the maids the book and film are based on has to say about it. I’ll give you a hint: it’s not good.
Also, really? “OH SHE JUST HAPPENED TO BE WHITE AND THEY SHOULD TOTALLY BE GRATEFUL THAT SHE LISTENED TO THEM UNLIKE THE OTHER WHITE PEOPLE! SHE SAVED THEM FROM RACISM BECAUSE SHE’S ONE OF THE GOOD ONES!” Such a good one that she stole the stories of her black servants, put herself at the center of them, made millions of dollars off of their stories, refused to share a dime or even credit, and then denied even knowing the woman she named the main maid after.
Kathryn Stockett is an awful excuse for a human being and a terrible fake ally. And white people like you who stand up for her are just making yourselves look foolish and racist as well.
I’ve fallen for the “Give it a chance! The performances are great! Support black actors!” okey doke too many times. I paid cash money for “Monster’s Ball” because I’d heard Mos Def did the damn thing—and my blood pressure still hasn’t returned to normal. I did the same for “Precious” and fell out with several people who insisted that I ignore its rampant colorism, lack of systemic critique and the director’s obvious hatred for fat brown female bodies. I even gave Tyler Perry’s “For Colored Girls” a try, only to be betrayed by that hamfisted, gay-vilifying storyline about the DL black husband who (of course) gives his wife AIDS.
So I’m passing on “The Help.” And I’m feeling vindicated by several very smart reviews.
The Washington Post’s Ann Hornaday confirmed what I suspected—that the narrative of black maids Aibileen and Minny “is structured largely around their white female benefactor.” Citing “The Blind Side,” Sandra Bullock’s odious Oscar vehicle, Hornaday goes on to ask why Hollywood keeps this tradition going:
That this is the story we keep telling ourselves is all the more puzzling—if not galling—when viewers consider that, precisely at the time that “The Help” transpires, African Americans across Mississippi were registering to vote and agitating for political change. In other words, they were helping themselves.
Nelson George smartly recommends that people unfamiliar with Civil Rights struggle see Henry Hampton’s groundbreaking “Eyes on the Prize” documentary instead:
Hampton’s documentary slides powerfully from one witness to another, giving little-known organizers equal weight with the Dr. Kings and Rosa Parkses of the movement. Ms. Stockett, a white woman who toiled for five years on “The Help,” uses the voices of three women (Skeeter, an emerging white liberal writer, and Minny and Aibileen, two black maids she persuades to tell their stories) to telescope a wide range of emotions and experiences in the Jim Crow Mississippi of 1962. If Skeeter is Ms. Stockett’s stand-in, then she makes a bold stretch by using local dialect to voice the experiences of the black women, creating a false sense of authenticity that’s vital to the novel. […]
A larger problem for anyone interested in the true social drama of the era is that the film’s candy-coated cinematography and anachronistic super-skinny Southern belles are part of a strategy that buffers viewers from the era’s violence. The maids who tell Skeeter their stories speak of the risks they are taking, but the sense of physical danger that hovered over the civil rights movement is mostly absent.
Along with “Eyes on the Prize,” I strongly recommend people read Isabel Wilkerson’s epic great migration narrative “The Warmth of Other Suns.” It’s nuanced, historically accurate, and ridiculously engaging.
The best review of “The Help” I’ve read so far was written by novelist Martha Southgate. She ethers the novel and film so throughly that I almost feel sorry for Hollywood’s historical fantasy merchants. Almost. Anyway, an excerpt:
There have been thousands of words written about Stockett’s skills, her portrayal of the black women versus the white women, her right to tell this story at all. I won’t rehash those arguments, except to say that I found the novel fast-paced but highly problematic. Even more troubling, though, is how the structure of narratives like The Help underscores the failure of pop culture to acknowledge a central truth: Within the civil rights movement, white people were the help.
The architects, visionaries, prime movers, and most of the on-the-ground laborers of the civil rights movement were African-American. Many white Americans stood beside them, and some even died beside them, but it was not their fight — and more important, it was not their idea.
Implicit in The Help and a number of other popular works that deal with the civil rights era is the notion that a white character is somehow crucial or even necessary to tell this particular tale of black liberation. What’s more, to imply that what the maids Aibileen and Minny are working against is simply a refusal on everyone’s part to believe that ”we’re all the same underneath” is to simplify the horrors of Jim Crow to a truly damaging degree.
This isn’t the first time the civil rights movement has been framed this way fictionally, especially on film. Most Hollywood civil rights movies feature white characters in central, sometimes nearly solo, roles. My favorite (not!) is Alan Parker’s Mississippi Burning, which gives us two white FBI agents as heroes of the movement. FBI agents! Given that J. Edgar Hoover did everything short of shoot Martin Luther King Jr. himself in order to damage or discredit the movement, that goes from troubling to appalling.
For me, that about covers it.
Why I posted about “The Help” and why the hell I hate it.