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Viola Davis To Investigate 'The Personal History Of Rachel DuPree'

by Kevin Jagernauth
August 12, 2011 6:44 AM
7 Comments
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First, before we get this bit of news, we'll just address "The Help" for a moment. There have been quiet a few bloggers/writers/critics this week decrying the movie for being "racist" and frankly, that's the laziest most reactionary term you could throw at "The Help" or any movie really. It's a term that is so loaded that in this context is almost meaningless, but it's great way for a bunch of people to furrow their brows and pretend to be concerned while the rest of the year they easily overlook far more egregious depictions of race (or lack thereof) in mainstream films. Yes, "The Help" has its issues, but "racist"? Give it a rest.

Anyway, that's a long way of saying that Viola Davis, star of "The Help" -- who gives an Oscar worthy performance by the way -- and who also turned heads with her stirring turn in "Doubt," is ready to start putting on her producer's hat. EW reports that the actress is picking up the rights to Ann Weisgarber’s 2008 book "The Personal History of Rachel DuPree" and it has the potential to be a powerful tale.

The story follows the titular Rachel, who falls for the son of a boardinghouse owner who agrees to marry her on one condition: she must give up her 160 acres from the Homestead Act so he can double his spread. Fast forward to 1917 and living with her husband on a ranch in the west -- as one of the few black families in the area -- a pregnant Rachel struggles to keep her family fed while her proud husband refuses to move from the land, which is a source of a pride, to better care for her and her children.

While nothing is finalized just yet, Davis has been a fan of the book for ages, with a testomonial on the author's website saying, “'The Personal History of Rachel DuPree' is a John Ford movie...with black people! It’s spectacular! Really great! I can’t put it down. I’ve never read anything like it!” So let's hope this all comes together, because a western driven by black characters? Yep, that could be awesome.

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7 Comments

  • KatieHall | August 13, 2011 2:39 AMReply

    If you don't believe the film is racists in all of it's racist glory, then you are a little ignorant of the many subtle and wonderful ways Hollywood dishes out racism. The film has all of the hallmarks of a proper condescending Hollywood f-ck you black history! and black people! that it needs to meet the criteria for name calling. It makes me sad that you're missing it. To me, it's so obvious.

    If you are curious and would like to understand why some of us feel justified in calling the film racist, please read the many critical thoughts of this wonderful blog here: http://acriticalreviewofthehelp.wordpress.com/

    The arguments are thoughtful and fully realized. They are not lazy I promise.

  • Kevin Jagernauth | August 12, 2011 9:40 AMReply

    Sorry dude, I'm actually brown (but I'm not quite sure what color my skin has to do with the legitimacy of my opinion).

    I have nothing against well reasoned arguments to be made against "The Help" but saying it's "racist" is just kind of silly.

  • racist lazy reactionary blogger | August 12, 2011 9:31 AMReply

    "It’s a term that is so loaded that in this context is almost meaningless, but it’s great way for a bunch of people to furrow their brows and pretend to be concerned while the rest of the year they easily overlook far more egregious depictions of race (or lack thereof) in mainstream films. Yes, “The Help” has its issues, but “racist”? Give it a rest."

    Let me guess - you're white.

    also, isn't the "lazy" thing to do just dismiss the issue outright, like your doing, rather than reading up on some of the different opinions and sides and see where they're coming from? and just assuming anyone who has an issue with the movie is "pretending to be concerned?"

  • racist lazy reactionary blogger | August 12, 2011 9:13 AMReply

    actually, it's not "lazy reactionary bloggers" it's the association of black woman historians:

    http://www.abwh.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2:open-statement-the-help&catid=1:latest-news

    i suggest reading their statement and giving it a second thought. not saying you have to change your mind, think the movie is racist or non-racist, but the debate is more about portraying a time period correctly, rather having millions of viewers get a false impression of what that time period was like.

    which is why you sound stupid when you say "the rest of the year they easily overlook far more egregious depictions of race (or lack thereof) in mainstream films."

    the issue isn't whether or not a black guy can play spider-man or be a lead in "horrible bosses" or "bridesmaids" - it's about whether a movie/book like this gives people of this generation a false and distorted idea of what a very bad time in American history was like

  • Kevin Jagernauth | August 12, 2011 8:19 AMReply

    That's racist.

  • Kevin Klawitter | August 12, 2011 8:16 AMReply

    Wow. INDIEWIRE criticizing bloggers for being lazy and reactionary? Talk about pot calling the kettle black.

  • BlakeW | August 12, 2011 7:18 AMReply

    she's beautiful and so talented..couldn't you have found a photo that didn't make her look cross eyed??

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