Race in The Help, by Tate Taylor

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A Tate Taylor film, The Help (2009) emphasizes the extreme, racially-charged stereotypes thus endorses racial thinking. Blacks in this film are represented broadly as common house maids, or domestic slaves, but specifically as oppressed, unhappy, impoverished, and products of hardship through the utilization of racist stereotypes and juxtaposition with the lives of affluent whites in the southern United States, a juxtaposition which immortalizes the racial gap between whites and blacks. The actions of the black characters support the cultural stereotypes that are pervasive throughout this film. A stereotype is a widely held but fixed and oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing (Iftkar, 2013). Blacks are stereotyped as being loud, über religious, uneducated, gullible, thieving, unclean and diseased, irrational, and fried chicken lovers. A scene of a loud, raucous, songful Southern Baptist church service, church packed dancing and worshipping black characters lends itself to the idea that the these characters are über religious. This scene also lends itself to exemplifying another cultural stereotype. Historically, blacks have been stereotyped as constantly poised to break into song or dance. This stereotype was founded upon the inception of minstrel shows in the early 1900s, and the notion of the “Stage Negro” stereotype. Among other characteristics, this stereotype presents blacks as musical with “natural rhythm”. The same church scene in which all of the entirely black congregation is soulfully singing and dancing sans inhibitions accurately illustrates the belief behind the stereotype. These same characters are portrayed as being uneducated through their use of slang and improper English. In ... ... middle of paper ... ...elliously was not the focus of the film. The stereotypes, scripts, and representations of the characters demonstrated the racial divide between blacks and whites. Though not overtly racist, these demonstrations encouraged racism and endorsed racial thinking through racially-charged thinking. References Iftkhar, S. (2013, September). Narrative. COMM 101. Lecture conducted from University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI. Iftkhar, S. (2013, November). Race. COMM 101. Lecture conducted from University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI. Iftkhar, S. (2013, October). Representation. COMM 101. Lecture conducted from University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI. Iftkhar, S. (2013, September). Semiotics. COMM 101. Lecture conducted from University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI. Iftkhar, S. (2013, November). Women. COMM 101. Lecture conducted from University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI.
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