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How Racist is "The Help"?

by Anthony Kaufman
August 11, 2011 1:46 AM
84 Comments
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"Why should I complain about making $7,000 a week playing a maid? If I didn't, I'd be making $7 a week being one." -- Hattie McDaniel

Despite Hollywood's best intentions and well-meaning saccharine storytelling, it gets race wrong, repeatedly. From "Driving Miss Daisy" to "Crash" to "The Blind Side" to "Avatar," whiteness remains Hollywood's dominant force, and its stories of racial redemption continually fail to grapple with the realities of America's horrible racism, past and present.

For all those giving a pass to "The Help," forgiving the film's reactionary core for its strong performances or heartwarming uplift, I suggest you consider the deep-seated problem of perpetuating the white savior myth -- once again. It reinforces stereotypes, powerful images of subjugation, that endure in the public consciousness.

I like what Boston Globe critic Wesley Morris wrote in his review of the film:

"The best film roles three black women will have all year require one of them to clean Ron Howard’s daughter’s house. It’s self-reinforcing movie imagery. White boys have always been Captain America. Black women, in one way or another, have always been someone’s maid. These are strong figures, as that restaurant owner might sincerely say, but couldn’t they be strong doing something else? That’s the hardest thing to reconcile about Skeeter’s book and 'The Help’' in general. On one hand, it’s juicy, heartwarming, well-meant entertainment. On the other, it’s an owner’s manual."

In a post called "Why Can't Critics Just Get Along," David Poland criticizes critics for criticizing the fact that "The Help" was made, at all, and not reviewing the film on its relative faults and merits. But Poland doesn't seem to read Morris's point--and mine, as well--that the film's faults are integrally mixed with its premise. To make a film that purports to be about the struggles of black servitude that is actually just another tale about a white person's empowerment is grossly irresponsible, from a political perspective, and kind of lame, from a narrative perspective.

In his 1965 essay, "White Man's Guilt," James Baldwin writes about America's racism: "One wishes that Americans, white Americans, would read, for their own sakes, this record, and stop defending themselves against it. Only then will they be enabled to change their lives. The fact that Americans, white Americans, have not yet been able to do this- to face their history, to change their lives-hideously menaces this country. Indeed, it menaces the entire world."

Forty-six years later, it seems, the American white establishment still can't seem to understand that they are responsible for racial discrimination and subjugation, and not, as "The Help" would have it, responsible for breaking down those walls.

I also can't help wonder what does it say about “The Help” that Ablene Cooper, an African American nanny and housekeeper who works for "The Help" author Kathryn Stockett’s brother and sister-in-law, filed a lawsuit against Stockett, claiming that the central African American maid in the novel — a woman named Aibileen Clark and portrayed in the film by Viola Davis — was based largely on her likeness without her approval. A judge will decide on the case next week, as millions of Americans will fork over cash, enriching more white Americans. The exploitation continues.

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84 Comments

  • Media Studies / Journalism Major | March 2, 2014 1:09 AMReply

    "The Help" IS racist because:
    -The endless fried chicken scenes are extremely racist as it is a way to belittle people of African descent. Black people and fried chicken racism has a long history, since slavery, and Hollywood should be smart enough to know that these stereotypes are not only belittling, but it insults an entire race.
    -"The Help" is a white Disny-fied distortion of the Jim Crow South, where it denies our histories harsh reality. It denies the struggles and brutality that really occurred, which are too brutal for a Disney movie. Since people aren't educated enough to know that, it causes people to not think it was not "that bad" and fails to address the daily fear of being beaten, lynched, or sexually assaulted.
    -Depicts Black men as either abusive or absent, which embraces another myth/stereotype that fuels racism and creates self-esteem problems for many African American males.
    -Illustrates the era's racism to individual's meanness and doesn't address the struggles pertaining to larger structures, like the realities of police brutality or the KKK.

  • Media Studies / Journalism Major | March 2, 2014 1:09 AMReply

    "The Help" IS racist because:
    -The endless fried chicken scenes are extremely racist as it is a way to belittle people of African descent. Black people and fried chicken racism has a long history, since slavery, and Hollywood should be smart enough to know that these stereotypes are not only belittling, but it insults an entire race.
    -"The Help" is a white Disny-fied distortion of the Jim Crow South, where it denies our histories harsh reality. It denies the struggles and brutality that really occurred, which are too brutal for a Disney movie. Since people aren't educated enough to know that, it causes people to not think it was not "that bad" and fails to address the daily fear of being beaten, lynched, or sexually assaulted.
    -Depicts Black men as either abusive or absent, which embraces another myth/stereotype that fuels racism and creates self-esteem problems for many African American males.
    -Illustrates the era's racism to individual's meanness and doesn't address the struggles pertaining to larger structures, like the realities of police brutality or the KKK.

  • Media Studies / Journalism Major | March 2, 2014 1:09 AMReply

    "The Help" IS racist because:
    -The endless fried chicken scenes are extremely racist as it is a way to belittle people of African descent. Black people and fried chicken racism has a long history, since slavery, and Hollywood should be smart enough to know that these stereotypes are not only belittling, but it insults an entire race.
    -"The Help" is a white Disny-fied distortion of the Jim Crow South, where it denies our histories harsh reality. It denies the struggles and brutality that really occurred, which are too brutal for a Disney movie. Since people aren't educated enough to know that, it causes people to not think it was not "that bad" and fails to address the daily fear of being beaten, lynched, or sexually assaulted.
    -Depicts Black men as either abusive or absent, which embraces another myth/stereotype that fuels racism and creates self-esteem problems for many African American males.
    -Illustrates the era's racism to individual's meanness and doesn't address the struggles pertaining to larger structures, like the realities of police brutality or the KKK.

  • Media Studies / Journalism Major | March 2, 2014 1:09 AMReply

    "The Help" IS racist because:
    -The endless fried chicken scenes are extremely racist as it is a way to belittle people of African descent. Black people and fried chicken racism has a long history, since slavery, and Hollywood should be smart enough to know that these stereotypes are not only belittling, but it insults an entire race.
    -"The Help" is a white Disny-fied distortion of the Jim Crow South, where it denies our histories harsh reality. It denies the struggles and brutality that really occurred, which are too brutal for a Disney movie. Since people aren't educated enough to know that, it causes people to not think it was not "that bad" and fails to address the daily fear of being beaten, lynched, or sexually assaulted.
    -Depicts Black men as either abusive or absent, which embraces another myth/stereotype that fuels racism and creates self-esteem problems for many African American males.
    -Illustrates the era's racism to individual's meanness and doesn't address the struggles pertaining to larger structures, like the realities of police brutality or the KKK.

  • Media Studies / Journalism Major | March 2, 2014 1:09 AMReply

    "The Help" IS racist because:
    -The endless fried chicken scenes are extremely racist as it is a way to belittle people of African descent. Black people and fried chicken racism has a long history, since slavery, and Hollywood should be smart enough to know that these stereotypes are not only belittling, but it insults an entire race.
    -"The Help" is a white Disny-fied distortion of the Jim Crow South, where it denies our histories harsh reality. It denies the struggles and brutality that really occurred, which are too brutal for a Disney movie. Since people aren't educated enough to know that, it causes people to not think it was not "that bad" and fails to address the daily fear of being beaten, lynched, or sexually assaulted.
    -Depicts Black men as either abusive or absent, which embraces another myth/stereotype that fuels racism and creates self-esteem problems for many African American males.
    -Illustrates the era's racism to individual's meanness and doesn't address the struggles pertaining to larger structures, like the realities of police brutality or the KKK.

  • Media Studies / Journalism Major | March 2, 2014 1:09 AMReply

    "The Help" IS racist because:
    -The endless fried chicken scenes are extremely racist as it is a way to belittle people of African descent. Black people and fried chicken racism has a long history, since slavery, and Hollywood should be smart enough to know that these stereotypes are not only belittling, but it insults an entire race.
    -"The Help" is a white Disny-fied distortion of the Jim Crow South, where it denies our histories harsh reality. It denies the struggles and brutality that really occurred, which are too brutal for a Disney movie. Since people aren't educated enough to know that, it causes people to not think it was not "that bad" and fails to address the daily fear of being beaten, lynched, or sexually assaulted.
    -Depicts Black men as either abusive or absent, which embraces another myth/stereotype that fuels racism and creates self-esteem problems for many African American males.
    -Illustrates the era's racism to individual's meanness and doesn't address the struggles pertaining to larger structures, like the realities of police brutality or the KKK.

  • Media Studies / Journalism Major | March 2, 2014 1:09 AMReply

    "The Help" IS racist because:
    -The endless fried chicken scenes are extremely racist as it is a way to belittle people of African descent. Black people and fried chicken racism has a long history, since slavery, and Hollywood should be smart enough to know that these stereotypes are not only belittling, but it insults an entire race.
    -"The Help" is a white Disny-fied distortion of the Jim Crow South, where it denies our histories harsh reality. It denies the struggles and brutality that really occurred, which are too brutal for a Disney movie. Since people aren't educated enough to know that, it causes people to not think it was not "that bad" and fails to address the daily fear of being beaten, lynched, or sexually assaulted.
    -Depicts Black men as either abusive or absent, which embraces another myth/stereotype that fuels racism and creates self-esteem problems for many African American males.
    -Illustrates the era's racism to individual's meanness and doesn't address the struggles pertaining to larger structures, like the realities of police brutality or the KKK.

  • Media Studies / Journalism Major | March 2, 2014 1:09 AMReply

    "The Help" IS racist because:
    -The endless fried chicken scenes are extremely racist as it is a way to belittle people of African descent. Black people and fried chicken racism has a long history, since slavery, and Hollywood should be smart enough to know that these stereotypes are not only belittling, but it insults an entire race.
    -"The Help" is a white Disny-fied distortion of the Jim Crow South, where it denies our histories harsh reality. It denies the struggles and brutality that really occurred, which are too brutal for a Disney movie. Since people aren't educated enough to know that, it causes people to not think it was not "that bad" and fails to address the daily fear of being beaten, lynched, or sexually assaulted.
    -Depicts Black men as either abusive or absent, which embraces another myth/stereotype that fuels racism and creates self-esteem problems for many African American males.
    -Illustrates the era's racism to individual's meanness and doesn't address the struggles pertaining to larger structures, like the realities of police brutality or the KKK.

  • Media Studies / Journalism Major | March 2, 2014 1:09 AMReply

    "The Help" IS racist because:
    -The endless fried chicken scenes are extremely racist as it is a way to belittle people of African descent. Black people and fried chicken racism has a long history, since slavery, and Hollywood should be smart enough to know that these stereotypes are not only belittling, but it insults an entire race.
    -"The Help" is a white Disny-fied distortion of the Jim Crow South, where it denies our histories harsh reality. It denies the struggles and brutality that really occurred, which are too brutal for a Disney movie. Since people aren't educated enough to know that, it causes people to not think it was not "that bad" and fails to address the daily fear of being beaten, lynched, or sexually assaulted.
    -Depicts Black men as either abusive or absent, which embraces another myth/stereotype that fuels racism and creates self-esteem problems for many African American males.
    -Illustrates the era's racism to individual's meanness and doesn't address the struggles pertaining to larger structures, like the realities of police brutality or the KKK.

  • Media Studies / Journalism Major | March 2, 2014 1:09 AMReply

    "The Help" IS racist because:
    -The endless fried chicken scenes are extremely racist as it is a way to belittle people of African descent. Black people and fried chicken racism has a long history, since slavery, and Hollywood should be smart enough to know that these stereotypes are not only belittling, but it insults an entire race.
    -"The Help" is a white Disny-fied distortion of the Jim Crow South, where it denies our histories harsh reality. It denies the struggles and brutality that really occurred, which are too brutal for a Disney movie. Since people aren't educated enough to know that, it causes people to not think it was not "that bad" and fails to address the daily fear of being beaten, lynched, or sexually assaulted.
    -Depicts Black men as either abusive or absent, which embraces another myth/stereotype that fuels racism and creates self-esteem problems for many African American males.
    -Illustrates the era's racism to individual's meanness and doesn't address the struggles pertaining to larger structures, like the realities of police brutality or the KKK.

  • Media Studies / Journalism Major | March 2, 2014 1:09 AMReply

    "The Help" IS racist because:
    -The endless fried chicken scenes are extremely racist as it is a way to belittle people of African descent. Black people and fried chicken racism has a long history, since slavery, and Hollywood should be smart enough to know that these stereotypes are not only belittling, but it insults an entire race.
    -"The Help" is a white Disny-fied distortion of the Jim Crow South, where it denies our histories harsh reality. It denies the struggles and brutality that really occurred, which are too brutal for a Disney movie. Since people aren't educated enough to know that, it causes people to not think it was not "that bad" and fails to address the daily fear of being beaten, lynched, or sexually assaulted.
    -Depicts Black men as either abusive or absent, which embraces another myth/stereotype that fuels racism and creates self-esteem problems for many African American males.
    -Illustrates the era's racism to individual's meanness and doesn't address the struggles pertaining to larger structures, like the realities of police brutality or the KKK.

  • Media Studies / Journalism Major | March 2, 2014 1:09 AMReply

    "The Help" IS racist because:
    -The endless fried chicken scenes are extremely racist as it is a way to belittle people of African descent. Black people and fried chicken racism has a long history, since slavery, and Hollywood should be smart enough to know that these stereotypes are not only belittling, but it insults an entire race.
    -"The Help" is a white Disny-fied distortion of the Jim Crow South, where it denies our histories harsh reality. It denies the struggles and brutality that really occurred, which are too brutal for a Disney movie. Since people aren't educated enough to know that, it causes people to not think it was not "that bad" and fails to address the daily fear of being beaten, lynched, or sexually assaulted.
    -Depicts Black men as either abusive or absent, which embraces another myth/stereotype that fuels racism and creates self-esteem problems for many African American males.
    -Illustrates the era's racism to individual's meanness and doesn't address the struggles pertaining to larger structures, like the realities of police brutality or the KKK.

  • Media Studies / Journalism Major | March 2, 2014 1:09 AMReply

    "The Help" IS racist because:
    -The endless fried chicken scenes are extremely racist as it is a way to belittle people of African descent. Black people and fried chicken racism has a long history, since slavery, and Hollywood should be smart enough to know that these stereotypes are not only belittling, but it insults an entire race.
    -"The Help" is a white Disny-fied distortion of the Jim Crow South, where it denies our histories harsh reality. It denies the struggles and brutality that really occurred, which are too brutal for a Disney movie. Since people aren't educated enough to know that, it causes people to not think it was not "that bad" and fails to address the daily fear of being beaten, lynched, or sexually assaulted.
    -Depicts Black men as either abusive or absent, which embraces another myth/stereotype that fuels racism and creates self-esteem problems for many African American males.
    -Illustrates the era's racism to individual's meanness and doesn't address the struggles pertaining to larger structures, like the realities of police brutality or the KKK.

  • Media Studies / Journalism Major | March 2, 2014 1:09 AMReply

    "The Help" IS racist because:
    -The endless fried chicken scenes are extremely racist as it is a way to belittle people of African descent. Black people and fried chicken racism has a long history, since slavery, and Hollywood should be smart enough to know that these stereotypes are not only belittling, but it insults an entire race.
    -"The Help" is a white Disny-fied distortion of the Jim Crow South, where it denies our histories harsh reality. It denies the struggles and brutality that really occurred, which are too brutal for a Disney movie. Since people aren't educated enough to know that, it causes people to not think it was not "that bad" and fails to address the daily fear of being beaten, lynched, or sexually assaulted.
    -Depicts Black men as either abusive or absent, which embraces another myth/stereotype that fuels racism and creates self-esteem problems for many African American males.
    -Illustrates the era's racism to individual's meanness and doesn't address the struggles pertaining to larger structures, like the realities of police brutality or the KKK.

  • Media Studies / Journalism Major | March 2, 2014 1:09 AMReply

    "The Help" IS racist because:
    -The endless fried chicken scenes are extremely racist as it is a way to belittle people of African descent. Black people and fried chicken racism has a long history, since slavery, and Hollywood should be smart enough to know that these stereotypes are not only belittling, but it insults an entire race.
    -"The Help" is a white Disny-fied distortion of the Jim Crow South, where it denies our histories harsh reality. It denies the struggles and brutality that really occurred, which are too brutal for a Disney movie. Since people aren't educated enough to know that, it causes people to not think it was not "that bad" and fails to address the daily fear of being beaten, lynched, or sexually assaulted.
    -Depicts Black men as either abusive or absent, which embraces another myth/stereotype that fuels racism and creates self-esteem problems for many African American males.
    -Illustrates the era's racism to individual's meanness and doesn't address the struggles pertaining to larger structures, like the realities of police brutality or the KKK.

  • Media Studies / Journalism Major | March 2, 2014 1:09 AMReply

    "The Help" IS racist because:
    -The endless fried chicken scenes are extremely racist as it is a way to belittle people of African descent. Black people and fried chicken racism has a long history, since slavery, and Hollywood should be smart enough to know that these stereotypes are not only belittling, but it insults an entire race.
    -"The Help" is a white Disny-fied distortion of the Jim Crow South, where it denies our histories harsh reality. It denies the struggles and brutality that really occurred, which are too brutal for a Disney movie. Since people aren't educated enough to know that, it causes people to not think it was not "that bad" and fails to address the daily fear of being beaten, lynched, or sexually assaulted.
    -Depicts Black men as either abusive or absent, which embraces another myth/stereotype that fuels racism and creates self-esteem problems for many African American males.
    -Illustrates the era's racism to individual's meanness and doesn't address the struggles pertaining to larger structures, like the realities of police brutality or the KKK.

  • Media Studies / Journalism Major | March 2, 2014 12:42 AMReply

    "The Help" IS racist because:
    -The endless fried chicken scenes are extremely racist as it is a way to belittle people of African descent. Black people and fried chicken racism has a long history, since slavery, and Hollywood should be smart enough to know that these stereotypes are not only belittling, but it insults an entire race.
    -"The Help" is a white Disny-fied distortion of the Jim Crow South, where it denies our histories harsh reality. It denies the struggles and brutality that really occurred, which are too brutal for a Disney movie. Since people aren't educated enough to know that, it causes people to not think it was not "that bad" and fails to address the daily fear of being beaten, lynched, or sexually assaulted.
    -Depicts Black men as either abusive or absent, which embraces another myth/stereotype that fuels racism and creates self-esteem problems for many African American males.
    -Illustrates the era's racism to individual's meanness and doesn't address the struggles pertaining to larger structures, like the realities of police brutality or the KKK.

  • Media Studies / Journalism Major | March 2, 2014 12:42 AMReply

    "The Help" IS racist because:
    -The endless fried chicken scenes are extremely racist as it is a way to belittle people of African descent. Black people and fried chicken racism has a long history, since slavery, and Hollywood should be smart enough to know that these stereotypes are not only belittling, but it insults an entire race.
    -"The Help" is a white Disny-fied distortion of the Jim Crow South, where it denies our histories harsh reality. It denies the struggles and brutality that really occurred, which are too brutal for a Disney movie. Since people aren't educated enough to know that, it causes people to not think it was not "that bad" and fails to address the daily fear of being beaten, lynched, or sexually assaulted.
    -Depicts Black men as either abusive or absent, which embraces another myth/stereotype that fuels racism and creates self-esteem problems for many African American males.
    -Illustrates the era's racism to individual's meanness and doesn't address the struggles pertaining to larger structures, like the realities of police brutality or the KKK.

  • Media Studies / Journalism Major | March 2, 2014 12:42 AMReply

    "The Help" IS racist because:
    -The endless fried chicken scenes are extremely racist as it is a way to belittle people of African descent. Black people and fried chicken racism has a long history, since slavery, and Hollywood should be smart enough to know that these stereotypes are not only belittling, but it insults an entire race.
    -"The Help" is a white Disny-fied distortion of the Jim Crow South, where it denies our histories harsh reality. It denies the struggles and brutality that really occurred, which are too brutal for a Disney movie. Since people aren't educated enough to know that, it causes people to not think it was not "that bad" and fails to address the daily fear of being beaten, lynched, or sexually assaulted.
    -Depicts Black men as either abusive or absent, which embraces another myth/stereotype that fuels racism and creates self-esteem problems for many African American males.
    -Illustrates the era's racism to individual's meanness and doesn't address the struggles pertaining to larger structures, like the realities of police brutality or the KKK.

  • Media Studies / Journalism Major | March 2, 2014 12:42 AMReply

    "The Help" IS racist because:
    -The endless fried chicken scenes are extremely racist as it is a way to belittle people of African descent. Black people and fried chicken racism has a long history, since slavery, and Hollywood should be smart enough to know that these stereotypes are not only belittling, but it insults an entire race.
    -"The Help" is a white Disny-fied distortion of the Jim Crow South, where it denies our histories harsh reality. It denies the struggles and brutality that really occurred, which are too brutal for a Disney movie. Since people aren't educated enough to know that, it causes people to not think it was not "that bad" and fails to address the daily fear of being beaten, lynched, or sexually assaulted.
    -Depicts Black men as either abusive or absent, which embraces another myth/stereotype that fuels racism and creates self-esteem problems for many African American males.
    -Illustrates the era's racism to individual's meanness and doesn't address the struggles pertaining to larger structures, like the realities of police brutality or the KKK.

  • Media Studies / Journalism Major | March 2, 2014 12:42 AMReply

    "The Help" IS racist because:
    -The endless fried chicken scenes are extremely racist as it is a way to belittle people of African descent. Black people and fried chicken racism has a long history, since slavery, and Hollywood should be smart enough to know that these stereotypes are not only belittling, but it insults an entire race.
    -"The Help" is a white Disny-fied distortion of the Jim Crow South, where it denies our histories harsh reality. It denies the struggles and brutality that really occurred, which are too brutal for a Disney movie. Since people aren't educated enough to know that, it causes people to not think it was not "that bad" and fails to address the daily fear of being beaten, lynched, or sexually assaulted.
    -Depicts Black men as either abusive or absent, which embraces another myth/stereotype that fuels racism and creates self-esteem problems for many African American males.
    -Illustrates the era's racism to individual's meanness and doesn't address the struggles pertaining to larger structures, like the realities of police brutality or the KKK.

  • Media Studies / Journalism Major | March 2, 2014 12:42 AMReply

    "The Help" IS racist because:
    -The endless fried chicken scenes are extremely racist as it is a way to belittle people of African descent. Black people and fried chicken racism has a long history, since slavery, and Hollywood should be smart enough to know that these stereotypes are not only belittling, but it insults an entire race.
    -"The Help" is a white Disny-fied distortion of the Jim Crow South, where it denies our histories harsh reality. It denies the struggles and brutality that really occurred, which are too brutal for a Disney movie. Since people aren't educated enough to know that, it causes people to not think it was not "that bad" and fails to address the daily fear of being beaten, lynched, or sexually assaulted.
    -Depicts Black men as either abusive or absent, which embraces another myth/stereotype that fuels racism and creates self-esteem problems for many African American males.
    -Illustrates the era's racism to individual's meanness and doesn't address the struggles pertaining to larger structures, like the realities of police brutality or the KKK.

  • Media Studies / Journalism Major | March 2, 2014 12:42 AMReply

    "The Help" IS racist because:
    -The endless fried chicken scenes are extremely racist as it is a way to belittle people of African descent. Black people and fried chicken racism has a long history, since slavery, and Hollywood should be smart enough to know that these stereotypes are not only belittling, but it insults an entire race.
    -"The Help" is a white Disny-fied distortion of the Jim Crow South, where it denies our histories harsh reality. It denies the struggles and brutality that really occurred, which are too brutal for a Disney movie. Since people aren't educated enough to know that, it causes people to not think it was not "that bad" and fails to address the daily fear of being beaten, lynched, or sexually assaulted.
    -Depicts Black men as either abusive or absent, which embraces another myth/stereotype that fuels racism and creates self-esteem problems for many African American males.
    -Illustrates the era's racism to individual's meanness and doesn't address the struggles pertaining to larger structures, like the realities of police brutality or the KKK.

  • Media Studies / Journalism Major | March 2, 2014 12:42 AMReply

    "The Help" IS racist because:
    -The endless fried chicken scenes are extremely racist as it is a way to belittle people of African descent. Black people and fried chicken racism has a long history, since slavery, and Hollywood should be smart enough to know that these stereotypes are not only belittling, but it insults an entire race.
    -"The Help" is a white Disny-fied distortion of the Jim Crow South, where it denies our histories harsh reality. It denies the struggles and brutality that really occurred, which are too brutal for a Disney movie. Since people aren't educated enough to know that, it causes people to not think it was not "that bad" and fails to address the daily fear of being beaten, lynched, or sexually assaulted.
    -Depicts Black men as either abusive or absent, which embraces another myth/stereotype that fuels racism and creates self-esteem problems for many African American males.
    -Illustrates the era's racism to individual's meanness and doesn't address the struggles pertaining to larger structures, like the realities of police brutality or the KKK.

  • Media Studies / Journalism Major | March 2, 2014 12:42 AMReply

    "The Help" IS racist because:
    -The endless fried chicken scenes are extremely racist as it is a way to belittle people of African descent. Black people and fried chicken racism has a long history, since slavery, and Hollywood should be smart enough to know that these stereotypes are not only belittling, but it insults an entire race.
    -"The Help" is a white Disny-fied distortion of the Jim Crow South, where it denies our histories harsh reality. It denies the struggles and brutality that really occurred, which are too brutal for a Disney movie. Since people aren't educated enough to know that, it causes people to not think it was not "that bad" and fails to address the daily fear of being beaten, lynched, or sexually assaulted.
    -Depicts Black men as either abusive or absent, which embraces another myth/stereotype that fuels racism and creates self-esteem problems for many African American males.
    -Illustrates the era's racism to individual's meanness and doesn't address the struggles pertaining to larger structures, like the realities of police brutality or the KKK.

  • Media Studies / Journalism Major | March 2, 2014 12:42 AMReply

    "The Help" IS racist because:
    -The endless fried chicken scenes are extremely racist as it is a way to belittle people of African descent. Black people and fried chicken racism has a long history, since slavery, and Hollywood should be smart enough to know that these stereotypes are not only belittling, but it insults an entire race.
    -"The Help" is a white Disny-fied distortion of the Jim Crow South, where it denies our histories harsh reality. It denies the struggles and brutality that really occurred, which are too brutal for a Disney movie. Since people aren't educated enough to know that, it causes people to not think it was not "that bad" and fails to address the daily fear of being beaten, lynched, or sexually assaulted.
    -Depicts Black men as either abusive or absent, which embraces another myth/stereotype that fuels racism and creates self-esteem problems for many African American males.
    -Illustrates the era's racism to individual's meanness and doesn't address the struggles pertaining to larger structures, like the realities of police brutality or the KKK.

  • Media Studies / Journalism Major | March 2, 2014 12:42 AMReply

    "The Help" IS racist because:
    -The endless fried chicken scenes are extremely racist as it is a way to belittle people of African descent. Black people and fried chicken racism has a long history, since slavery, and Hollywood should be smart enough to know that these stereotypes are not only belittling, but it insults an entire race.
    -"The Help" is a white Disny-fied distortion of the Jim Crow South, where it denies our histories harsh reality. It denies the struggles and brutality that really occurred, which are too brutal for a Disney movie. Since people aren't educated enough to know that, it causes people to not think it was not "that bad" and fails to address the daily fear of being beaten, lynched, or sexually assaulted.
    -Depicts Black men as either abusive or absent, which embraces another myth/stereotype that fuels racism and creates self-esteem problems for many African American males.
    -Illustrates the era's racism to individual's meanness and doesn't address the struggles pertaining to larger structures, like the realities of police brutality or the KKK.

  • Media Studies / Journalism Major | March 2, 2014 12:42 AMReply

    "The Help" IS racist because:
    -The endless fried chicken scenes are extremely racist as it is a way to belittle people of African descent. Black people and fried chicken racism has a long history, since slavery, and Hollywood should be smart enough to know that these stereotypes are not only belittling, but it insults an entire race.
    -"The Help" is a white Disny-fied distortion of the Jim Crow South, where it denies our histories harsh reality. It denies the struggles and brutality that really occurred, which are too brutal for a Disney movie. Since people aren't educated enough to know that, it causes people to not think it was not "that bad" and fails to address the daily fear of being beaten, lynched, or sexually assaulted.
    -Depicts Black men as either abusive or absent, which embraces another myth/stereotype that fuels racism and creates self-esteem problems for many African American males.
    -Illustrates the era's racism to individual's meanness and doesn't address the struggles pertaining to larger structures, like the realities of police brutality or the KKK.

  • Media Studies / Journalism Major | March 2, 2014 12:42 AMReply

    "The Help" IS racist because:
    -The endless fried chicken scenes are extremely racist as it is a way to belittle people of African descent. Black people and fried chicken racism has a long history, since slavery, and Hollywood should be smart enough to know that these stereotypes are not only belittling, but it insults an entire race.
    -"The Help" is a white Disny-fied distortion of the Jim Crow South, where it denies our histories harsh reality. It denies the struggles and brutality that really occurred, which are too brutal for a Disney movie. Since people aren't educated enough to know that, it causes people to not think it was not "that bad" and fails to address the daily fear of being beaten, lynched, or sexually assaulted.
    -Depicts Black men as either abusive or absent, which embraces another myth/stereotype that fuels racism and creates self-esteem problems for many African American males.
    -Illustrates the era's racism to individual's meanness and doesn't address the struggles pertaining to larger structures, like the realities of police brutality or the KKK.

  • Media Studies / Journalism Major | March 2, 2014 12:42 AMReply

    "The Help" IS racist because:
    -The endless fried chicken scenes are extremely racist as it is a way to belittle people of African descent. Black people and fried chicken racism has a long history, since slavery, and Hollywood should be smart enough to know that these stereotypes are not only belittling, but it insults an entire race.
    -"The Help" is a white Disny-fied distortion of the Jim Crow South, where it denies our histories harsh reality. It denies the struggles and brutality that really occurred, which are too brutal for a Disney movie. Since people aren't educated enough to know that, it causes people to not think it was not "that bad" and fails to address the daily fear of being beaten, lynched, or sexually assaulted.
    -Depicts Black men as either abusive or absent, which embraces another myth/stereotype that fuels racism and creates self-esteem problems for many African American males.
    -Illustrates the era's racism to individual's meanness and doesn't address the struggles pertaining to larger structures, like the realities of police brutality or the KKK.

  • Media Studies / Journalism Major | March 2, 2014 12:42 AMReply

    "The Help" IS racist because:
    -The endless fried chicken scenes are extremely racist as it is a way to belittle people of African descent. Black people and fried chicken racism has a long history, since slavery, and Hollywood should be smart enough to know that these stereotypes are not only belittling, but it insults an entire race.
    -"The Help" is a white Disny-fied distortion of the Jim Crow South, where it denies our histories harsh reality. It denies the struggles and brutality that really occurred, which are too brutal for a Disney movie. Since people aren't educated enough to know that, it causes people to not think it was not "that bad" and fails to address the daily fear of being beaten, lynched, or sexually assaulted.
    -Depicts Black men as either abusive or absent, which embraces another myth/stereotype that fuels racism and creates self-esteem problems for many African American males.
    -Illustrates the era's racism to individual's meanness and doesn't address the struggles pertaining to larger structures, like the realities of police brutality or the KKK.

  • Media Studies / Journalism Major | March 2, 2014 12:42 AMReply

    "The Help" IS racist because:
    -The endless fried chicken scenes are extremely racist as it is a way to belittle people of African descent. Black people and fried chicken racism has a long history, since slavery, and Hollywood should be smart enough to know that these stereotypes are not only belittling, but it insults an entire race.
    -"The Help" is a white Disny-fied distortion of the Jim Crow South, where it denies our histories harsh reality. It denies the struggles and brutality that really occurred, which are too brutal for a Disney movie. Since people aren't educated enough to know that, it causes people to not think it was not "that bad" and fails to address the daily fear of being beaten, lynched, or sexually assaulted.
    -Depicts Black men as either abusive or absent, which embraces another myth/stereotype that fuels racism and creates self-esteem problems for many African American males.
    -Illustrates the era's racism to individual's meanness and doesn't address the struggles pertaining to larger structures, like the realities of police brutality or the KKK.

  • Media Studies / Journalism Major | March 2, 2014 12:41 AMReply

    "The Help" IS racist because:
    -The endless fried chicken scenes are extremely racist as it is a way to belittle people of African descent. Black people and fried chicken racism has a long history, since slavery, and Hollywood should be smart enough to know that these stereotypes are not only belittling, but it insults an entire race.
    -"The Help" is a white Disny-fied distortion of the Jim Crow South, where it denies our histories harsh reality. It denies the struggles and brutality that really occurred, which are too brutal for a Disney movie. Since people aren't educated enough to know that, it causes people to not think it was not "that bad" and fails to address the daily fear of being beaten, lynched, or sexually assaulted.
    -Depicts Black men as either abusive or absent, which embraces another myth/stereotype that fuels racism and creates self-esteem problems for many African American males.
    -Illustrates the era's racism to individual's meanness and doesn't address the struggles pertaining to larger structures, like the realities of police brutality or the KKK.

  • Media Studies / Journalism Major | March 2, 2014 12:41 AMReply

    "The Help" IS racist because:
    -The endless fried chicken scenes are extremely racist as it is a way to belittle people of African descent. Black people and fried chicken racism has a long history, since slavery, and Hollywood should be smart enough to know that these stereotypes are not only belittling, but it insults an entire race.
    -"The Help" is a white Disny-fied distortion of the Jim Crow South, where it denies our histories harsh reality. It denies the struggles and brutality that really occurred, which are too brutal for a Disney movie. Since people aren't educated enough to know that, it causes people to not think it was not "that bad" and fails to address the daily fear of being beaten, lynched, or sexually assaulted.
    -Depicts Black men as either abusive or absent, which embraces another myth/stereotype that fuels racism and creates self-esteem problems for many African American males.
    -Illustrates the era's racism to individual's meanness and doesn't address the struggles pertaining to larger structures, like the realities of police brutality or the KKK.

  • Media Studies / Journalism Major | March 2, 2014 12:41 AMReply

    "The Help" IS racist because:
    -The endless fried chicken scenes are extremely racist as it is a way to belittle people of African descent. Black people and fried chicken racism has a long history, since slavery, and Hollywood should be smart enough to know that these stereotypes are not only belittling, but it insults an entire race.
    -"The Help" is a white Disny-fied distortion of the Jim Crow South, where it denies our histories harsh reality. It denies the struggles and brutality that really occurred, which are too brutal for a Disney movie. Since people aren't educated enough to know that, it causes people to not think it was not "that bad" and fails to address the daily fear of being beaten, lynched, or sexually assaulted.
    -Depicts Black men as either abusive or absent, which embraces another myth/stereotype that fuels racism and creates self-esteem problems for many African American males.
    -Illustrates the era's racism to individual's meanness and doesn't address the struggles pertaining to larger structures, like the realities of police brutality or the KKK.

  • Media Studies / Journalism Major | March 2, 2014 12:41 AMReply

    "The Help" IS racist because:
    -The endless fried chicken scenes are extremely racist as it is a way to belittle people of African descent. Black people and fried chicken racism has a long history, since slavery, and Hollywood should be smart enough to know that these stereotypes are not only belittling, but it insults an entire race.
    -"The Help" is a white Disny-fied distortion of the Jim Crow South, where it denies our histories harsh reality. It denies the struggles and brutality that really occurred, which are too brutal for a Disney movie. Since people aren't educated enough to know that, it causes people to not think it was not "that bad" and fails to address the daily fear of being beaten, lynched, or sexually assaulted.
    -Depicts Black men as either abusive or absent, which embraces another myth/stereotype that fuels racism and creates self-esteem problems for many African American males.
    -Illustrates the era's racism to individual's meanness and doesn't address the struggles pertaining to larger structures, like the realities of police brutality or the KKK.

  • Media Studies / Journalism Major | March 2, 2014 12:41 AMReply

    "The Help" IS racist because:
    -The endless fried chicken scenes are extremely racist as it is a way to belittle people of African descent. Black people and fried chicken racism has a long history, since slavery, and Hollywood should be smart enough to know that these stereotypes are not only belittling, but it insults an entire race.
    -"The Help" is a white Disny-fied distortion of the Jim Crow South, where it denies our histories harsh reality. It denies the struggles and brutality that really occurred, which are too brutal for a Disney movie. Since people aren't educated enough to know that, it causes people to not think it was not "that bad" and fails to address the daily fear of being beaten, lynched, or sexually assaulted.
    -Depicts Black men as either abusive or absent, which embraces another myth/stereotype that fuels racism and creates self-esteem problems for many African American males.
    -Illustrates the era's racism to individual's meanness and doesn't address the struggles pertaining to larger structures, like the realities of police brutality or the KKK.

  • Media Studies / Journalism Major | March 2, 2014 12:41 AMReply

    "The Help" IS racist because:
    -The endless fried chicken scenes are extremely racist as it is a way to belittle people of African descent. Black people and fried chicken racism has a long history, since slavery, and Hollywood should be smart enough to know that these stereotypes are not only belittling, but it insults an entire race.
    -"The Help" is a white Disny-fied distortion of the Jim Crow South, where it denies our histories harsh reality. It denies the struggles and brutality that really occurred, which are too brutal for a Disney movie. Since people aren't educated enough to know that, it causes people to not think it was not "that bad" and fails to address the daily fear of being beaten, lynched, or sexually assaulted.
    -Depicts Black men as either abusive or absent, which embraces another myth/stereotype that fuels racism and creates self-esteem problems for many African American males.
    -Illustrates the era's racism to individual's meanness and doesn't address the struggles pertaining to larger structures, like the realities of police brutality or the KKK.

  • Media Studies / Jornalism Major | March 2, 2014 12:41 AMReply

    "The Help" IS racist because:
    -The endless fried chicken scenes are extremely racist as it is a way to belittle people of African descent. Black people and fried chicken racism has a long history, since slavery, and Hollywood should be smart enough to know that these stereotypes are not only belittling, but it insults an entire race.
    -"The Help" is a white Disny-fied distortion of the Jim Crow South, where it denies our histories harsh reality. It denies the struggles and brutality that really occurred, which are too brutal for a Disney movie. Since people aren't educated enough to know that, it causes people to not think it was not "that bad" and fails to address the daily fear of being beaten, lynched, or sexually assaulted.
    -Depicts Black men as either abusive or absent, which embraces another myth/stereotype that fuels racism and creates self-esteem problems for many African American males.
    -Illustrates the era's racism to individual's meanness and doesn't address the struggles pertaining to larger structures, like the realities of police brutality or the KKK.

  • Tiffany | April 19, 2012 2:38 PMReply

    First of all, it's not all that racist. And Kathryn Stockett was trying to tell us what it was like back in the 1960s. And the white people were the racist ones in this novel and book. SO IT GET IT STRAIGHT!!!!

  • Bob | April 10, 2012 3:11 AMReply

    but what about racism aimed at White persons

  • mark anthony | February 16, 2012 7:03 PMReply

    so you're asking this movie to be unrealistic in making a black women in the south be the author of a huge book that gets lots of publicity... shut the fuck up. you're illogical. in the end, they did make it so a black woman was a writer. and you assume she becomes influential. did you NOT see where the praise the woman who first came forward to tell her story? this articles author is retarded. this movie is not lame, you are lame. LAME.

  • HR | March 4, 2012 10:36 PM

    That's not what the author is saying at all - regardless of the fact that Viola Davis is the narrator of the story, much of the plot revolves around Emma Stone's character standing up for the African American characters as opposed to them standing up for themselves. We see Allison Janney 'overcome' her racism (yay white people learning to be more inclusive) and Emma Stone lose her shitty-to-begin-with boyfriend - which is really the ultimate price for what she had to endure to get this book written. The author is merely criticizing that the mouthpiece and even audience for these films is largely white, and isn't there a fundamental problem with mass media communications about the inequalities in America coming from the historically dominant group? I found the movie to be entertaining and showcased an amazing performance by Viola Davis, but I believe it's irresponsible to be cavalier about the institutional racism it perpetuates. Just because it was a good movie doesn't mean it's overly intelligent. This article is just showcasing the fact that the film may not have gotten it right in a meaningful way when it comes to race.

  • joe g | January 10, 2012 5:01 PMReply

    Did the author actually see the movie?

    Very little specific to the plot is mentioned at all. If he had seen it (or was honest enough to examine it truthfully), he would have noticed that it is the black characters who empower the white girl. It is their stories that comprise her book, and she is a co-contributor in a collection of stories. Without them standing up and risking their very lives to do so, there's no book.

    At the end the main black character faces retaliation from an evil spoiled white employer. She notes that her writing has already been successful, and it has made an impact on the community and on the issue.

    More than a whites empowering blacks narrative, in the end it is a symbiotic coming together over racial obstacles that is what the film is about. This isn't quite so malevolent as the bad review would make it out to be. It is certainly not the fault of artists that there was 400 years of racial oppression. At least she's trying to address it honestly in a way that resonates with audiences. Your review lacked the seriousness to take on this film, sorry.

  • D | January 6, 2012 12:30 PMReply

    The real question is how racist is Hollywood? Of all the films that came out last year, The Help is the only widely released drama featuring women of color. Whether you like it or not, this is a part of our history. It's also a book about relationships among women. Was The Help perfect? No. It did however give two talented African-American actresses (Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer) time in the spotlight. Despite being labeled as "liberal" billion dollar Hollywood almost never showcases African-American, Latino, or Asian-American stories. Don't blame the movie for what is a bigger problem.

  • RW | January 4, 2012 8:02 AMReply

    Are we to require film makers to toe this line, then? Sometimes a movie is just a movie, and a critic is somebody who lucked into a job.

  • D | January 6, 2012 12:37 PM

    Will we ever see a movie that doesn't feature an all white New York City? It's just a movie but it can be used to see the problems at large.

  • Fc | December 23, 2011 11:01 AMReply

    I agree with JC. What we read in history is all one sided. I think u don't get the truth unless u hear both sides. Ever talked to several different people who grew up in the 60s about how it was back then? People like to be around people like themselves. Everyone is predjudise. Segregation will always be something that naturally happens. Everyone has always had a choice and I've talked to several people who say the 60s was a very scary time with all the civil right movements and feminists. It's declined our society and look at the crappy way most people live now. Abortions, broken homes, serial killers, everyone wanting to be the same and have the same things. What happened to being an individual? Sure the government needs to be messed with but look at the facts... How shitty did society turn after all this? Segregation was pointed out with signs back then and it's still here today! Just hidden... I just don't get it. I believe everyone has freedom of choice and always has. U think they have women "rights" for their sake? No, women have had them but now they get taxed and get more money made off of them. Women have always had choices just the same as anyone else. The thing is, women are able to have babies not men. We're meant to be Mommies not employees. If that's wrong then wow.., no wonder their are so many broken families and abortions. If a man is beating his wife then no she shouldnt stay. But look at women now who are guided in believing there is a mr right out there. Noone is perfect. They party, do drugs, let someone else raise their kids. That's not how things should be and feminists are the cause of that. But civil rights... The way it was handled... Is why America is the way it is today and I don't mean in a good way... And proof is there. Look before the 60s and after. I'm sure racism was around just the same as today ppl, I am acceptable to every color in no way do I mean this in offense, but ppl love to take it that way simply because they were conformed to believe it that way.

  • alicia banks | December 16, 2011 10:39 PMReply

    the help is not racist

    those who bash it unseen are!

    http://aliciabanks.xanga.com/757685411/a-rebel-tale-about-domestic-revolutionaries-help-yourself-to-%E2%80%9Cthe-help%E2%80%9D/

  • Chris | December 17, 2011 10:13 AM

    So everyone is racist is some way, is what you're saying?

  • Chris | December 16, 2011 8:07 PMReply

    Ugh... Liberals just can't be happy with anything. Whine and complain, that's all they do. Make a film about overcoming the odds in a racist society, and they find some way to cry about it. Just shut up.

  • lu | December 15, 2011 11:13 AMReply

    I saw The Help and felt the same way; it was uplifting but at the same time the depiction of the characters was as guilty as the racism they are trying to counter in the storyline. My biggest problem---why don't they cast white pretty actresses with black pretty actresses in these 'the south was so hard for blacks type of movies'. Not that all of the black actresses in the movie aren't pretty if you were to see them at a premiere but they were definitely always shown in their worst light in this movie. OK so they are maids, but couldn't they have shown then dressed up looking pretty when they are in their community in the movie--- having a sunday dinner or at a party (and those ugly frumpy church dresses don't count). How different would the movie had been if in most of the scenes the white women were shot with no makeup--no lipstick, no eyeshadow, no fake lashes, no blush, nothing--just food for thought--or if at least two of the maids cast looked like Naomi Campbell, Tyra Banks, Vanessa Williams, Rihanna, Alicia Keys, Nicki Minaj, Zoe Kravitz, Alek Wek? Would having a black beauty in the movie ruined the storyline? You know in the segregated south being a maid or "mammy" was a job for many black women 0f all shades, sizes and features--not just the plump and plain, but the black beauties and the black pretties as well! But the Hollywood black maid is always the same type. Now that is systemic racism and a stereotype!

  • Night | December 13, 2011 5:54 PMReply

    And by the way, Hattie McDaniel, for all the racism she had to endure and limitations placed on her career, managed to be, in her own way, an excellent actress. For all the objectionable elements and shoddy history in Gone With the Wind, McDaniel's acting is often excellent (as it also is in Alice Adams) as she manages to make her characters much more human and compelling than would seem possible based on what's on the page. Movies are collaborative efforts and, yes, often good acting does trump mediocre writing in film.

  • Ness | June 12, 2012 5:40 PM

    Ohhh good gracious God!

  • Exposay | December 21, 2011 12:48 AM

    Ms. McDaniel is brilliant in Alice Adams! She had impeccable comedic timing and one wonders how far she would have gone, how large a footprint she'd have left professionally, had she had the same opportunities as "white" (which is a social construct after all) actors of her generation.

  • Night | December 13, 2011 5:44 PMReply

    Your last paragraph is ridiculous. Writers are entitled to base any fictional character on anyone they wish. A writer doesn't need "approval" to create a work of fiction - almost all novelists base their characters (often loosely) on real people. Hack or genius, writers need to draw their characters from something real. How could the Aibileen character not be drawn, to some degree, from real-life individuals? Everyone from Shakespeare to Stephen King has used real-life individuals as models for their characters.

    You also ignore that the movie isn't really about a white person's journey and a subservient black: the Emma Stone and Viola Davis characters are co-leads with about equal screentime, as Jessica Tandy and Morgan Freeman also were (Freeman was rightly top-billed in Driving Miss Daisy as he probably had slightly more screentime). That's not to say The Help is a great or even good movie, necessarily, it just means you ought to try for a modicum of fairness before you attack its defects.

    "Black women, in one way or another, have always been someone’s maid. These are strong figures, as that restaurant owner might sincerely say, but couldn’t they be strong doing something else?"

    Morris' point is valid so far as it goes, but what are Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer supposed to do? Wait till someone offers them the same parts Meryl Streep and Kate Winslet get? Or do the best available scripts they do get offered? It might be better if Viola Davis could be seriously considered for those movies, but in the meantime, does Davis give an excellent performance or doesn't she? The entire cannot be reduced to its formulaic script. So-so writing doesn't necessarily trump excellent acting. Both are important, and if Davis nails it, that has to also factor into our evaluation of a film.

  • JC | December 8, 2011 3:51 PMReply

    This movie and movies like it are agenda based propoganda. The story of racism in America is one sided. Every race has been slaves at one time or another. Blacks have enslaved whites before whites enslaved blacks. What about the arab/african slave trade? What about blacks enslaving other blacks (to this very day). Look at history, not just the bias one sided view of the world's history you are taught in indoctrination centers (alll of academia).

    One day I hope the truth comes out and a movie showing how whites have been slaves is made and realeased. Blacks had their movie roots. Whites should have theirs too!

  • Nadine | December 16, 2011 10:38 AM

    Ooops... that response was a little hysterical. Hey, what can ya' do...

  • Nadine | December 16, 2011 10:31 AM

    JC...please, tell us more about the truth. I don't think you would know it if it were sitting on your nose. It's like people like you who wait to hear smatterings of "a something" that could possibly absolve and discredit those who suffered and claim it as the only truth. How much time have you actually put into learning about the history and social policies that have decimated a people. It not just about slavery, as you know it, but the policies that circumvented the prohibition of slavery which simply kept Blacks in debt as sharecroppers for another fifty years (post 1865). Now, Blacks had to work in those same fields AND pay the people they were working for to simply eat via inflated debts. Made-up debts. Black males were being arrested for simply walking around if they could not prove that they were working for a White person. They then took these men, without telling their families, and through state contracts with corporations and banks, worked for free (decades at a time). This was was happening well into the 60's...1960s. For those Blacks who attempted to escape up north to the urban areas through the Great Migration, Blacks struggled to find work mostly due to employment segregation that, initially wasn't institutionalized, but was a by-product of the resentment of new immigrants from Europe who refused to work alongside Blacks even when it was hard labor. Example: the Irish immigrants refused to work alongside Blacks in New York to create Central Park which was a minimum two-year project. Blacks had actually started to work when the Irish immigrants refused to continue as long as there were Blacks onsite. Two years of pay to take care of your family. Black women were being picked up for a day at a time to clean the apartments of Eastern European immigrants in the Bronx and similar areas. The maids would hope that they would be picked up early in the day so their getting paid a dollar for cooking and cleaning an entire apartment would increase their chances of getting paid, but it was never guaranteed. The "families" would sometimes believe a meal was sufficient pay and the woman would go home to her family empty-handed. This is, again, well into the sixties (1960s). An increase in access to education through Brown vs Board enabled some to leave the trenches, but for most, education was simply structured to babysit the children of Black people, future laborers. No real learning was occurring in the public schools where you had a majority of Black children. Can you say generations of depression...but resilience at the sane time. JC, I'm not even scraping the surface, with the heroin trade (which came out of China and Japan ending around World War II, but brought back to the states by the mafia who targeted the urban areas, including children. I mean, we have not even scraped the surface. The calculated raping of Black women as an actual policy of submission by planters. The inflated prices of goods in the urban areas where the stores were not own by Blacks at all. Those who had more money in the US did not have to pay as much for goods as those in the urban areas. I mean...the history is pretty psychotic...and the propaganda, you say these movies are based on, helps to keep the sense of a supremacy of "earned position of power". No acknowledgment of national programs exclusively that helped spawn the baby boom or how Reagan's father benefited from an entitlement program. Americans don't know their own history let alone the history of others. They think they know Paul Revere who rode West, but they don't know Wentworth Cheswell who rode North that very same night. Do they know that George Washington's army (of bandits, prisoners and former slaves), when in New York, were nearly wiped out during the Revolutionary war by smallpox but were all saved by two former slaves who had already been inoculated and taught from their elders how to inoculate others through a practice that had been around for centuries? How Ugandan healers were regularly and seamlessly performing C-sections on women with next to no maternal mortality rates for centuries and how European travelers in the 1800s recorded the process and brought what they learned back to Europe where the mortality rate for women post surgical removal of the child was over 80%. Among other things sterilization techniques were instituted which lowered the mortality rates for women in Europe to 30%. The list goes on... the propaganda is that Blacks are and have only been in servitude to others and contribute nothing (I mean even music and dance...c'mon - Jazz, Blues, Big band...). That is where some might be sensitive to yet another Black maid movie garnering RAVE review, but in comparison to let's say a Color Purple, looks like a Lifetime movie.

    As LU said, there doesn't seem to be room for attractive Black women in film or television. The fact that casting directors and agents seem to overwhelmingly be female (not diverse even) is a problem for "other" women. I've been told that I was "too attractive" and that they wanted another type. This has been quite intentional and is what I would call the real propaganda. When the prototype for a Black woman on television is a Black woman who would not be seen as attractive by her own group...there is a problem (not nice, sassy, fat, classic mammy, sapphire or jezebel incarnations). Parks & Recreation, Glee, Community, Grey's Anatomy... It seems that imagery can be aspirational for White women (the women on screen look much better than your average woman), but gritty and "real" for Black women...which is interesting since a woman's power is really in how attractive she is to the world, like it or not... Feminism has only benefited those women who already have power on the backs of those who don't.

    I could go on... Believe me, JC, I don't know if you're White or not...doesn't really matter, but as for Roots...the world is Roots for those who control the imagery.

    Oh, and you may not want to put down "academia" since its presence in your life is clearly what is most lacking given your premise.

  • John | October 29, 2011 5:29 AMReply

    The reactions to this film have been as predictable as day following night. Broadly speaking white people like it (Oh its the best movie, and funny, I recommend it wholeheartedly) and black people curse under their breath “not another DAMN mammy film again”.

    Lets be clear, simply liking a film does not make you a racist. BUT, fawning over it and saying its the best movie you have seen, funny, witty etc and FAILING to notice the repetition of the same old tired stereotypes and themes DOES suggest that you are perhaps too “comfortable” (and thus not challenging enough) of those images and the status quo.

    That unfortunately DOES make you complicit in maintaining the veneer of living in a “post racial” world despite the glaring inequalities (if you care to look) that still exist.

    Its been done … nothing new here. A movie purportedly about racism afflicting an oppressed community, but actually about the experience of the affluent white person defending that community. “To Kill a Mocking bird”, “Cry Freedom.” “Mississippi Burning.”, “The blind Side” the list goes on …

    To see why white people tend to like these films see these links:

    http://stuffwhitepeopledo.blogspot.com/2010/07/warmly-embrace-racist-novel-to-kill.html
    http://stuffwhitepeopledo.blogspot.com/2010/07/force-non-white-students-to-read-great.html
    http://stuffwhitepeopledo.blogspot.com/2010/05/rewrite-us-history-so-that-white-people.html

    You will find a few eye openers there that may help take off the blinkers most of us have on, when we choose to fail to see what is happening around us.

  • tony romano | September 6, 2011 10:11 AMReply

    this movie is fiction its not based on a true story you know what non-fiction all the black against white mobs that are going on right now its out of control

  • Chris | December 17, 2011 10:14 AM

    Your post is unreadable. Please learn some basic writing skills before you try to sound intelligent.

  • Herp de derp | September 4, 2011 7:54 AMReply

    Herp de derp. You're a self righteous twat.

  • Rdub | August 28, 2011 3:17 AMReply

    omg I love you for this! It's nice to hear this from someone OTHER than educated black women. Finally someone on our side! Certainly no one is dimishing the literary quality of the book or the cinematic finesse of the plot....but we gotta be maids....AGAIN???? *sigh*

  • Chris | December 17, 2011 10:17 AM

    You're right. I forgot black Americans were big business leaders and political power houses in the deep south during the sixties. Oh why would they ever be depicted at house servants and shown to be treated like shit during that time period.

  • Ava DuVernay | August 27, 2011 4:52 AMReply

    Bravo.

  • Scanlon | August 22, 2011 8:22 AMReply

    Actually, I think The Help was a good movie and based on a good book.

    Certainly, it should never be considered more than one small slice of the story about that period in US history. Nor was it by any long shot the most important one. But I think Stockett, the filmmakers, and the fictionalized Skeeter all seem to understand that. Indeed hints of other stories to be told were constantly alluded to in both the movie and the book.

    Aibileen, Minnie, and the other maids in that film were portrayed in a way that was much more nuanced than the usual stereotypes about "mammies" or "strong black women". They were portrayed as two dimensional characters navigating a complex and difficult situation. Perhaps the best aspect of the story is how it shows that even when you aren't dealing with the worst atrocities during that time period, or the worst employers (ei those who sexually exploited the maids) that these women were often subjected to a number of indignities, that were more personal than simply the low pay and lack of social security or vacation time.

    It also deals with the complexity of relationships in the South at that time and, the ambiguous and difficult situation of some maids who inevitably became attached to the children they cared for, but at the same time had to deal with the racist attitudes of the parents, and in many cases watching the children grow up to adopt those same attitudes. Furthermore it deals with the inherent contradictions and ironies of that sort of society where these women could cook the meals of the families they worked, for and often raise the children, but apparently could not use the same toilet or water fountain.

    As for the portrayal of Skeeter and her prefeminist Southern mother, the story also firmly avoids the simplistic cliches about "great white savoirs", "clueless white girls" or Southern belles. Instead, it shows Skeeter as a sincere an intelligent if less than perfect character. And it also deals with what it meant for middle and upper class Southern women of generation US generations to be the first female in their family's living or recording memory to be economically active instead of being an ornamental women with neither a job, nor essential chores, nor even the need to raise their own children given the presence of the maids, and to take such a drastically different life than their mothers with no role models other than the black women who raised them-and with the ambiguities those women experienced for years and in some cases all their lives.

    In the end, "The Help" is a story about the mundane and everyday sorts of injustices that get short shrift compared to the misdeeds that make history. The sort of cruelties that are not dramatic or headline grabbing and the sort of quiet personal struggles that some people have to go through if they wish to be different than their parents on that score.

    But unlike a lot of stories that attempted to cover the same territory, this one didn't pretend to be the definitive Civil Rights Story. No. It recognized itself for what it was and managed to put these things into a very entertaining tale.

  • ella | March 26, 2012 1:42 PM

    I enjoyed the Help, but it honestly was a fairy-tale story set in the segregationist South.

  • llanyway | August 17, 2011 2:22 AMReply

    there are certainly problems with the film in my estimation and it matters not that it is typical hollywood fare. there needs to be critique. i saw the movie and read the book, and the movie fails to present many of the key parts of the book that make it a little more (just a little) than the typical white savior role. aibileen and minny have voices that are just as present as skeeter's. although i think there could be more about their internal lives and history presented. but this is a debut novel and i'm sure the writer struggled with all of that.
    some of the key parts include the white women acknowledging to skeeter how they feel about their maids and how it felt to have that reflected on the page. this would have offered the film's audience a chance to really reflect on what racism does to people.
    i am a writer. i am a black woman. i know my history and have no shame in the roles that my foremothers and forefathers have taken on to provide for themselves and their families. i have no shame in the roles that working people of all races take on TODAY, where they face harassment and degradation on a daily basis. maybe because of this, i found myself wanting much more from this story than the caricatures that were presented. i LOVE viola davis and think she is an incredible talent. my hope is that these conversations will demonstrate that there is a market for serious dramatic roles for black actresses. and i am so thankful for the writers and directors who take that on in efforts like the African American Film Releasing Movement. (AFFRM).

  • Chris | December 17, 2011 10:18 AM

    Do you know what capital letters are?

  • George Chell | August 16, 2011 5:30 AMReply

    Actually this movie will damage the standing of white American women around the world when it is released outside the country in November. Already many Asians and for that matter African think "RACIST" when they see a white American woman on the street. No actually they think racist, bigot, will hold her nose at interracial couples and minorities, wont sit next to a non-white person in public tranist and of course wont date anyone who is not white." And this movie will confirm their view!

  • George Chell | August 16, 2011 5:27 AMReply

    "Racism is alive and well and as long as everyone, black, white or otherwise find the room to fight and argue about race, the longer race will continue to be a very dark (no pun intended) shadow over what could really be a great country."

    Will not happen until everyone is a minority in this country...it wont happen!

  • Lucy | August 15, 2011 9:14 AMReply

    So, why so much uproar about this moview? Is it because race remains an issue we in this country just do not want to face? is it because we can all see something real in the subject? Is it jealously of a very talented actress? Or is is just plain disappointing that this issue brings out the worse in us, as Americans? Why do other blacks criticize Viola Davis for being a great actress? By the way, much the same way some criticized Halle Berry for winning an Oscar for a movie in which whe slept with a white man? I saw "The Help" and as a black women, knew it to be an easy movie in which real issues may not have been addressed. No, there were no black bodies swinging from trees but the movie touched on some core racial issues in the south at that time. I focused on the strength it took black women during those times to find ways to support their own families. Do you think these women worked at these jobs because they wanted to? They did what they did with as much strength as they could muster, even when being insulted to their faces. Not to mention that I would bet a lot of white children were raised with the lessons of life learned from strong black women even if those lessons were lost in growing up in Jim Crow America. I even feel some for the conpromises that white women also had to make in being sure to stay in line with their peer thinking, even when they perhaps did not want to. Let's take the movie for what it is....a story that reflects a very ugly time in America but through it all, strong black women continued to raise their families with humility and caring. I could not be the woman I am today lest for the black women who came before me. Blacks should respect that thinking and not try to find excuses for it. Whites need to step out of the "it was not me" game and face up to the issues of race and where race came from....created by white society long ago in this country. Racism is alive and well and as long as everyone, black, white or otherwise find the room to fight and argue about race, the longer race will continue to be a very dark (no pun intended) shadow over what could really be a great country.

  • jaygime | August 15, 2011 4:14 AMReply

    The meta-irony of this all is that the ones sounding the chorus against "The Help" are themselves white -- and their posture (read: rant) against Hollywood's reductionist handling of race/racism are themselves examples of condescending, if not bleeding liberalism.

    There are those in the Black community and other communities of color who support this film; and others who do not. What would you then say about the former? That they're "misinformed?" Or, "being duped?"

    Maybe that's why there's such backlash against the backlash.

  • John Pearley Huffman | August 14, 2011 7:07 AMReply

    Thankfully Mr. Kaufman is around to determine what exactly is "grossly irresponsible from a political perspective."

    This is snot-nosed trash, that assumes immutability in race relations and can't seem to acknowledge how today's racial challenges are profoundly different than they were in 1965.

    It's a movie. And as such a fantasy spun from reality. It's not perfect, and it will be popular. A movie built to Kaufman's political standards would be grim and inaccessible to audiences.

  • June | August 13, 2011 6:17 AMReply

    "The Help" may not be perfect, but I think a movie attempting to tell a story about racism through the vehicle of a white protagonist is better than nothing. I enjoyed the film despite its flaws, and felt it was one of the few films this year worth the price of admission.

    Or your other options for movies this weekend are a movie about a pizza delivery boy robbing a bank, a ridiculous horror movie, or the Glee 3D concert movie. They are not attempting to make any statements on racism, and oh wait - Glee has a black actress in an-almost-but-not-quite leading role.

  • Dani | August 13, 2011 5:39 AMReply

    this is idiotic. you're being just as racist and stereotypical towards whites at they are towards other races. newsflash everyone, whites aren't the only racists in the world. a black person saying all whites are racist is racist. a french person saying all whites are obnoxious is racist. yet no one seems to notice this- racist comments are only labeled as so when they come out of a white person's mouth.
    anyway, you totally missed the point of the movie. instead of enjoying it, you focused on the fact that one of the women being empowered happened to be white, and so it ruined the whole thing for you. were all the whites supposed to be left behind then? this movie is about two races, not one. and it isn't supposed to be about what color the empowered woman is, because it doesn't matter. the fact is that miss skeeter did something pretty awesome. and she just happened to be white.
    and as for captain america, yeah, he'll probably always be white. but let's say up in china they created a superhero called captain china. i bet he'd always be played in movies as a chinese man. but many races besides the chinese live in china, are born in china. there are black people in china. but no one would object to captain america being chinese. yet, come to america, and sure enough you'll get people complaining about captain america being white.

    everyone needs to forget about which person is what color, and just shut their mouths. the book was amazing, the movie was great, end of story. don't come complaining because one of the "good" characters happened to be white. the world would be better off if everyone was blind. of course then i'm sure people would come up with ways to be racist towards others with different voices.

  • Ben Szwediuk | August 11, 2011 8:08 AMReply

    "There is no such thing as a moral or immoral book. Books are either well written or badly written. That is all."

  • George | August 11, 2011 5:54 AMReply

    "A judge will decide on the case next week, as millions of Americans will fork over cash, enriching more white Americans. The exploitation continues."

    Actually millions of black Americans will fork over cash enriching more white Americans like Katherine Stockett. Avatar was literally stolen from the Asians and remade without Asians by a dark skinned Asian I believe...Night Shyamlan.

    You have forgotten one negative stereotyope of white women and white teen girls that this movie will reinforce. Bachelor, Bachelorette, Love in the Wild have all reinforced the white female stereotyope...no, not sex and violence..."when you look at a white feamle a non-white person generally thinks bigot, racist, will hold her pointy nose at interracial couples, will definitely not date or even go out to dinner with non-white men, wont sit next to a non-white person in public transport...etc...unfortunately that is what this movie endorse...and that is a tragedy indeed!

  • anthony | August 11, 2011 3:35 AMReply

    Dear Savgal,
    Just because black female audiences enjoy Tyler Perry movies doesn't mean that those movies are responsible depictions of African Americans. They might be good and positive for a communal experience, but I have my doubts about the stereotypes they employ. I think the same could be said for "The Help."

  • Austin Dale | August 11, 2011 3:20 AMReply

    Have you even seen this movie yet?

  • savgal | August 11, 2011 2:44 AMReply

    I think you miss the point of the film, sir. Viola Davis' character Aibileen may be cleaning a house, but her dignity and courage and fair-mindedness and loving nature make her employer (and most of the employer's friends) look small, hateful, and cowardly. Unfortunately, that period of history DID happen, and the black actresses are just playing parts in a movie. At least one of them (Davis) said she has gotten criticism for choosing to play her role, and she wonders why she cannot just be an actress and do a good job at it; she wonders why Anthony Hopkins can play a cannibal and not get criticism. As far as the photo of Hattie McDaniel above in GWTW, the Mammy character was the conscience of that book and film, and yes, was historical as well. The mostly-black-female audience surrounding my friend and me at the movie left "The Help" saying how much they loved it. And this was in the Deep South, sir.

  • Tab | December 20, 2011 8:20 PM

    I am a black female and I did enjoy The Help. However, I agree that some aspects of the movie are problematic- aspects that are echoed throughout Hollywood. Though the social problems mirror historic attitudes of race, the author of this article and the critics with whom he agrees are criticizing the banal portrayal black females in Hollywood: downtrodden and marginalized black women (sometimes) empowered by empathetic white people in power. The author is suggesting a need to portray black women in different roles instead of constantly reinforcing images of them xeroxed from American history books (at least that's my take-away from the article). I absolutely agree that diversifying America's idea of black women in the media IS LONG OVERDUE.

  • Amen | August 11, 2011 2:14 AMReply

    I Concur!

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