Watch 4 Clips From NAACP National Convention Screening Of "The Help" (Reactions, Q&A)

by Tambay A. Obenson
July 28, 2011 4:12 AM
27 Comments
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As announced last week, in a likely effort to win over support from the historical organization and its followers, DreamWorks Studios held a special advanced screening of The Help at the 102nd NAACP National Convention just yesterday, July 27, at the Regal Cinemas L.A. LIVE Stadium 14 in Downtown Los Angeles.

The screening was followed by a panel discussion with stars Viola Davis and Bryce Dallas Howard, screenwriter/director Tate Taylor and author Kathryn Stockett, on whose debut novel the film is based.

Also present was special guest - pioneering civil rights leader and former NAACP Chairman Myrlie Evers-Williams (widow of murdered civil rights leader Medgar Evers), who shared her thoughts on the book and film as well.

NAACP officials have rallied around the film, calling it "captivating, provocative, and emotionally moving."

Will this calculated move by Dreamworks pay off at the box office? Well, we'll see. From the responses of most of you who read this site, I gather your money will be spent elsewhere opening weekend. Although, maybe much to your chagrin, your dollars may not be necessary, because, from what I hear, white women who've read the bestselling book, absolutely love it (some black women too), and are really looking forward to seeing the film. So, I expect they'll support it well enough.

None of us was present for last night's NAACP screening, but, thankfully, it was a recorded event, and I found a few short clips of the event online, from Myrlie Evers-Williams' thoughts on the book and the film (here's a hint: she loved both), to the Q&A that followed the screening (and from the looks of that, it's apparent that the predominantly black audience loved it too.

Watch the 4 clips below (I suspect more will turn up later, and I'll add them as I find them):

Myrlie Evers-Williams shares her thoughts here:

Here's the intro to the screening:

The first part of the Q&A:

The second part of the Q&A:

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27 Comments

  • Iamthenewblack | July 29, 2011 11:47 AMReply

    No black Studies 101 here blu Topaz. And I have never read Miseducation of a Negro so....Any other insults you want to throw my way? I guess I borrow theories from The Isis Papers and The Wretched of the Earth I think on my own bro/sis maybe you should try it. I just see what I see. Black folks hating a movie because of the history of blacks in movies is idiotic to me. One thing I have learned in this life is no matter how bad we want it to be so not all white people lurk around with malicious intent waiting to destroy black people. If someone comes with a solid critique of the MOVIE I am open to it, but I really haven't seen one. But I'll just wait until I see the movie.

  • hipsterabs192 | July 29, 2011 11:08 AMReply

    Of course you will complain about Viola Davis in this role. As I scroll through this site, I see that she is the only dark skinned sister singled out negatively. Were you all this negatively boisterous when Taraji was nominated for BENJAMIN BUTTONS? And for the idiot (yeah i said it) who thinks that Davis and Spencer and other actors of color won't suffer from non-blackparticipation at the box office, then you are DE-LUS-ION-AL!

    How many of you spent your dollars supporting Harry Potter, Captain America, Friends with Benefits? Do i need to point out that none of these films have black faces in major leads. YOU are telling Hollywood that black actors aren't worth watching in leads. So don't COMPLAIN when hollywood doesn't cast them in any capacity. Continue to support box office tentpoles where we are underrepresented and continue to be apart of the problem.

    Again, it begins with the mainstream movies where blacks are leads which translate into revenue for indies with blacks and lead getting distribution. But please by all means sit on your delusional, self hating, high horses and complain about the very ones trying to make a difference. I hope Davis continues to laugh all the way to the bank. Because you have shown you won't support her in ANYTHING she does.

  • CareyCarey | July 29, 2011 8:48 AMReply

    Well JMac, this “debate”/issue has fostered a total of nearly 200 comments here at S & A (and a podcast) , most of them opposing this movie. So, I don’t think mine will make a difference. However, what I’ve noticed about those that comment on movies, here at this site, is that we are frequently in the minority section of the viewing and paying public, why? Well, that’s another whole issue.

    In regards to this movie, I simply did not believe it was the proper vehicle to voice our concerns about the NAACP, white people and race pride. So I was glad to see new strong voices like Sharon, Iamthenewblack and R.J, jump in the fray. And oh, I loved this comment by Anwar...

    “Things are only issues if you make them issues and I think some people just like to complain. If you ask me, if you constantly have to find something in something as silly as a film to complain about…you’re projecting your own insecurities out”

    I am going to see this movie... well... because I have to. My lady saw a preview and said it looked good to her, and asked me if I’d take her. I smiled and said, “sure baby, why not”. See, she’s not the one to super analyze a movie for it’s political and historical value. Nope, she’ll stop and get her candy at Kwik Shop, take what the movie gives “her“; laughs, tears, or whatever, and then we’ll go home to get ready for another day of life.

  • JMac | July 29, 2011 7:53 AMReply

    I know your handling yours Blu but gonna get a little bit of this:)

    "Of course you will complain about Viola Davis in this role. As I scroll through this site, I see that she is the only dark skinned sister singled out negatively."

    I haven't been around here as long as others but I have been here enough to say that statement is completely off. If anything this place is an equal opportunity criticism zone. We will voice complaints about anybody - black, white, light, dark, American, African, Canadian:D, english, spanish... can't list them all. If you're in need of a light v. dark argument, go rent School Daze and masturbate to your heart's content.

    Some of us would rather watch this film if written by a black person from the black maid's POV. Some wouldn't even then. That's their right. Personally, I'm getting tired of the argument that it's part of our heritage and you can't handle it, so get over.

    1. Nobody here said it wasn't part of our heritage.
    2. No one's explicitly said it makes them ashamed.
    3. We have more to our heritage than slavery and domestic work.

    My issue is how many times do we have to see a black maid story? There were black doctors, lawyers, hotel owners, high level military men, businessmen, artists, etc... during slavery and even more afterwards. It wasn't a tiny exemption to the rule. There were several free large black communities sprinkled in this country doing their own. Question is, why do we never see that? You'd think every damn black person here was a slave, a servant, and nothing else. It's just as stupid as only showing blacks as drug dealers, thieves, and whores on welfare. Our community has more variety, so why the hell are we ALWAYS "the help" in these nostalgic pieces. Sometimes I think the people who support these type of films are ashamed that we all weren't servants back then. Perhaps because it means, although those blacks had the power and resources to do so, many chose to take care of themselves rather than improving the black community as a whole. That would mean part of the reason blacks have so little wealth today is due to our own selfishness and not just racism.

    And I've said this several times, if the NAACP is interested in positive images of black people on screen, why can't they endorse/promote black films by black people who fit that criteria? That's a legitimate question and this is the proper format to air grievances against this organization because they're the ones who got all up in this movie in the first place. I didn't respond to you Carey on the other thread about my issues with NAACP since it would take to damn long and it involves something personal I went through with them and Push/Rainbow Coalition years ago. I'll just sum it up by saying they still want to accomplish goals as if we are victims with NO power. We have more resources now than in the 40s- 60s but they love to beg white people to do this, that, or the other thing. I want to build black america to be self reliant, not cry, bitch, and moan for whites to give us a tiny piece of the pie - and then kiss their white asses whenever they drop a crumb.

    I appreciate the work Ms. Evers and her husband have done for us but it's 2011 now, not 1911. In another hundred years will we still be watching white films on black domestics and say "at least the black women are getting work"?

  • BluTopaz | July 29, 2011 5:59 AMReply

    lol Carey-Thx for letting me use your black glove line. Don't you love overzealous phonies?

    Also looks like somebody needs to man up and either 1) cuss me out with their own screen name or 2) at least type mine correctly. If you're going to be a cyber punk do it right, or do you fail at that also? REAL militants don't hide, stop faking the funk! ;-)

  • Iamthenewblack | July 29, 2011 5:33 AMReply

    95% of these posters have not seen the movie and yet people are vowing not to pay a dime to see it because of the subject matter? I would like to see a good movie no matter what the representation of black people. I have seen horrible movies about black heroes and I am supposed to love them simply because the premise is honorable? I think racism/color has shifted and flipped the black psyche so much that we are programmed t deny sections of our ancestry, we are in essence instituting the same house/field nigga construct within our own thought processes.
    So a hero can't be a maid, it has to be the first black so and so. Yo, Wake up! and realize that these representations we loathe are us, this is who we were. I refuse to be ashamed of any of it.

    And the fact that a white man directed it is of no consequence. These beautiful, courageous black women made a choice to tell their stories, they held the key. In this case they were in charge of their own destiny. Freedom is letting go of your fear and to expose your scars, that is what they did.

    Lastly I totally agree with Viola Davis, her having restriction on what she can and can't play is the worst kind of discrimination. Not taking a part for fear of the screaming heads that engineer this new racist structure adopted and powered by "the new negro" (GET A LIFE!)

  • CareyCarey | July 29, 2011 5:13 AMReply

    Laughing with you Blu. You are doing it up in here today *lol*. But you can't be using my black glove lines without giving me credit. *big smile*.

    And that "Stokely Carmichael" cracked me up.

  • Blu Topaz | July 29, 2011 5:03 AMReply

    My apologies, y'all. I'm ignorant.

  • BluTopaz | July 29, 2011 4:19 AMReply

    Oh and also for the fake Stokely Carmichael: Residing in a big city I have the advantage of supporting small, VERY indie movies that need all the shine they can get via sending out notices for screenings, social media contacts, etc. which I prefer to do instead of putting even more $$ in this White woman's pocket (who stole the story from her former maid, in case you haven't heard that the first gazillion times it's been noted ad nauseaum).

    So unless you're doing anything remotely similar to help people of color tell their own stories without being filtered, put your black gloved fist down and stfu. Viola Davis is not thinking about you.

  • BluTopaz | July 29, 2011 2:58 AMReply

    @hipster: "@Blu Topaz: ” you said that critics of this film have said they would see it had it been written by black women…” NO WHERE ON THIS SITE have i seen that."

    Oh, so that means those comments don't exist at all, cuz YOU haven't seen them! My bad. Guess the eleventy-leven times I have said it myself does not count, but I'm not looking them up for you-I don't do Cliff Notes.

    "Again become apart of the solution and take your anger elsewhere…It’s reminiscent of people who complain about laws but have yet to go to the polls and vote. Your dollars matter. Your complaining doesn’t!"

    And no kidding how 'dollars matter'-which is why I'm not supporting this flick. And I'll bet your corny, fake black panther ass prolly won't see it neither. Next.

  • hipsterabs192 | July 29, 2011 2:46 AMReply

    @Blu Topaz: " you said that critics of this film have said they would see it had it been written by black women..." NO WHERE ON THIS SITE have i seen that.

    @Zeus: "Now a film with to black leads who dare want to kiss, a romantic film with black leads? Or black leads who are NOT SERVANTS…now hold on…lets think about this…folks over seas won’t go to see that. So, lets make sure we show black folk as we want them."

    We don't support these films, my friend. Because BELIEVE ME if they were making money, they'd still be being made. Hollywood is about money..it's a business. How many BLACK people went to see JUMPING THE BROOM? LAST HOLIDAY? WHY DID I GET MARRIED? I can tell you very few.

    Again become apart of the solution and take your anger elsewhere...It's reminiscent of people who complain about laws but have yet to go to the polls and vote. Your dollars matter. Your complaining doesn't!

  • BluTopaz | July 29, 2011 1:33 AMReply

    @ Iamthenewblack: "These beautiful, courageous black women made a choice to tell their stories, they held the key...we are in essence instituting the same house/field nigga construct within our own thought processes"

    Sounds like someone read 'Mis-education of the Negro' too many times. Who are the courageous Black women you speak of re: this movie? The actresses paid to speak the lines written by a White woman (who stole the story from her former maid?). Do you not realize many critics are saying they would more likely see this movie if it WAS written by Black women, or are you just jumping in the fray?

    "we are programmed t deny sections of our ancestry,"

    So now I will ask you: where did anyone here say they are ashamed of this history, and are consumed with self hatred? There are so many people online invoking their Black Studies 101 essays re: this flick, it's actually entertaining and worthy of discussion apart from this craptastic movie.

  • R.J. | July 28, 2011 11:40 AMReply

    I really enjoyed what Viola Davis had to say in that last clip, she hit the nail right on the head. Maybe I'm not as cynical as most people, but I'm not going to hate a movie before seeing it. People act like a black woman playing a maid in a movie automatically means they're playing the stereotypical "mammy" role, which doesn't seem to be the case with this film.

  • JMac | July 28, 2011 11:16 AMReply

    Carey just go ahead. People know you can't help yourself and there have since been more deserving people itching for a beating (see Lee Daniels post). Just don't get too carried away like Kunke there. I can't read posts that long although I agree - at least I think I do unless Kunke did a 180 in there.

  • CareyCarey | July 28, 2011 10:26 AMReply

    *** mumble mumble, slobber and groan, mumble mumble***

    Translation: Carey's gag order has not been lifted. :-)

  • saadiyah | July 28, 2011 10:09 AMReply

    "we as black women need to represent and exude support of the dignity of the black maid back during that time."

    WTF????

  • Kunle Adekolo | July 28, 2011 9:13 AMReply

    And one more thing.

    If you're relying on the NAACP to tell you the right thing to do, you may want to reconsider.

    Remember, they're the same ones who went to war with Hallmark over the "Black Holes" greeting card. So their judgement is a little suspect.

    SMDH.

  • Kunle Adekolo | July 28, 2011 9:08 AMReply

    If doesn't matter if we talk about it for 24 straight hours. It doesn't matter if we break it down for even the simplest of our people to understand. It wouldn't even matter if we told them that the KKK approves of this film-- some of you are still going to rush out to see it, simply because you think it's for you. Just because the movie studio that produced it decided to mention that Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer are co-starring in it, you think it's your movie.

    But you know what? It's not your fault. It truly isn't.
    It's not your fault that you are so starved for on-screen images that reflect your own reality, that you cling to the first thing that reminds you of you. Yes, it's true-- Viola Davis' depiction of a working-class black American reminds you of you. It's OK to admit it.

    Too many of us have gotten hung up on that word "maid", that we think the character doesn't reflect our own lives. But ask yourself just how much of a difference is there between being a maid and doing whatever it is you do for 8 hours everyday.

    Still thinking about it? I'll tell you. There's very little difference. Because regardless of what you do for a living, or how much you earn, there's a good chance that you work for someone else's interests, doing something, most days, you'd rather not be doing.

    You say, "I'm an admin. assistant. I ain't no maid." But if your boss says "refresh that coffee pot", or "make me 100 copies of this document", 9 times out of 10, there's going to be some brewing and Xeroxing going on. I don't care if you're a doctor, writer, athlete, or whatever-- the bottom line is that you have a boss who tells you what to do, just like a maid does. For those of you who are self-employed (drug dealers excluded), give yourself a pat on the back-- I'm not talking about you.

    I say all of this to convey the belief that I understand why so many people want to see this film. I only want those people to take a minute to think about what they are doing by supporting it. Some will say, "Well, I just want to support Viola and Octavia. That's why I'm going to see it."

    The truth is that you going to see it doesn't necessarily do anything for those actresses. Most of you didn't go out to see the film "Doubt" when it first opened, but her performance still earned her an Academy Award nomination.

    That brings me to my main point. Just who are you supporting by paying your hard-earned money to see this film? Not Viola and Octavia. Because history shows us that even if this film is a success, their Caucasoid counterparts are more likely to benefit in terms of receiving more work in Tinseltown.

    Do some research on the author before you make her richer than she already is. Did you know she was sued by the former maid of a family member, who claimed that her own likeness was used without her consent as a basis for the character that Viola Davis plays? Imagine if that was you. Imagine if your name was Amy and you were a sassy, cornrowed woman who worked in a donut shop. Now imagine how you would feel if your best customer came in one day and announced that she had sold the rights to the story of a sassy, cornrowed donut shop worker named Mamy. Would you like that? Would you be cool with that? Would you want the whole world to go out and spend money to see that film?

    I live in the Washington, DC area, and there are posters for this film EVERYWHERE; especially in so-called black neighborhoods. They want you to think that this film is for you, but it's not. It's for them. They're just counting on us to do what we always do, and fall for the old "black face on the poster" trick.

    I would implore you to not spend your money to see this film. Not because the black characters are maids, but because the studio didn't make this film for you. They're just counting on you spend your money like they did. I want you to not see this film because if you or I had written it, it likely would never have been made.

    If you'd like to see a film made for you, and made by someone who cares about you and appreciates your dollars, go on-line and order that "I Will Follow" DVD from Ava DuVernay when it becomes available on August 23, 2011.
    http://www.amazon.com/I-Will-Follow-Salli-Richardson-Whitfield/dp/B004Z1HYBS/ref=sr_1_1?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1311887063&sr=1-1

    Don't get me wrong. I believe in supporting all types of cinema, regardless of who creates it. But I especially believe in supporting cinema that is made for you, and not the stuff that Hollywood shoves down your throat.

  • Nicole Sconiers | July 28, 2011 8:00 AMReply

    Thanks, ShebaBaby for dropping that link to my site. I attended "The Help" screening last night and blogged my thoughts.

    I can't make up anyone's mind for them, but I will not support a movie simply because there are black people in the cast. Like many, I am desperate to see Af-Am representation on the big screen, but not if it's one-dimensional and played for laughs. Viola Davis is an excellent actress, but her performance didn't resonate with me. I cringed at the NAACP's fawning over this film, telling the audience to throw "Help parties," and saying, "We have to show Hollywood we need to see more movies like this." Really? About black women who have zero agency, who exist solely as props for a Good White Woman to uplift and give a voice? No, thank you.

    Yes, my grandmother was a cleaning lady and I accompanied her while she did day work. Yes, the story of black maids needs to be told -- in a provocative, nuanced and complex way. No, "The Help" didn't achieve this.

  • BluTopaz | July 28, 2011 7:03 AMReply

    @ Sharon:

    Trippin' is actually expecting a H'wood flick to teach your family strength and survival. A movie is for entertainment, not to instruct moral values someone should learn just by being in the world. I don't get why there are so many people who think movies like this and Madea are so "instructional" for Black people.

    And no, I don't watch loud, fighting Black women on reality tv either in case that was your next comment.

  • sharon | July 28, 2011 6:22 AMReply

    TRUST...the film is fabulous with a topnotch black cast. It the experience from the perspective of the maids Abileen and Minnie and lawd knows Minnie don't take no stuff from no white folk! LOL Abileen shows a strong silent strength which is inspiring and captivating. Why white women love this movie and book is beyond me but we as black women need to represent and exude support of the dignity of the black maid back during that time. They showed a pillar of strength and courage (Minnie...lol) more so than today. Yeah I said it...TODay. oUR FAMILIES NEED TO SEE THIS MOVIE! So stop trippin!!!

  • ShebaBaby | July 28, 2011 6:15 AMReply

    Had a friend FB me raving about the movie and screening from last night but I don't think we have the same taste in films and she didn't say what was SO good about it so I had to go read some reviews.

    Found this review below that includes some spoilers. I think this film as well as Django Unchained are both gonna piss me off so I'm staying away but below is a pretty detailed review for anyone who is curious about the film.

    http://nicolesconiers.com/blog/2011/07/28/the-help-white-women-saviors-and-maids-with-superpowers/

  • JMac | July 28, 2011 6:01 AMReply

    I haven't come across any black blog/site where the majority are in favor of this film - rightly or wrongly - so you can't even use the excuse that it's a bougie vs. ghetto dispute. Maybe it'll persuade white people to go and not feel guilty.

  • Jennifer | July 28, 2011 5:25 AMReply

    Oh what a clever thing for a studio to do to get the black audience. Hold a screening at the NAACP and then release footage of a civiil rights activist co-signing the book and film and then a clip of black folks giving the film the slow clap when it was over.

    So basically it's "See other black folks liked it! Even this civil rights leader! You should too""

    It's all so damn manipulative and disingenious; on the part of the filmmakers, the studio, and the NAACP.

  • Tamara | July 28, 2011 5:11 AMReply

    In posts past concerning this film, someone suggested "Black Girl/Borom Sarret", African, Sengelese, French film as an alternative.

    I really liked it. I liked the 'internal' you get from Dionouse, the main character.

    I still haven't seen the "The Help", though I yet plan to.

  • Zeus | July 28, 2011 5:03 AMReply

    This is what Hollywood says:

    Yeah, yeah...It's so awe inspiring, breath taking, emotional, powerful, educational and moving....


    ...as long as the black folk are playing servants, we will allow it and praise it. Since there are no gangsters in this film, they better be servants in some kind of context if you want OUR money.

    Now a film with to black leads who dare want to kiss, a romantic film with black leads? Or black leads who are NOT SERVANTS...now hold on...lets think about this...folks over seas won't go to see that. So, lets make sure we show black folk as we want them.


    No thanks...

  • Gina | July 28, 2011 4:54 AMReply

    Yeah, still not paying a dime to see this film.

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