Tate Taylor's Character Conflict In 'The Help'

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Character dialogue in film is an effective means for film directors to communicate messages and representations to the audience. In the 2011 film, The Help, the director and screenwriter, Tate Taylor, uses character conflict to convey attitudes that were dominant in 1960’s America. Through manipulation of character dialogue, Taylor presents the common attitudes in 1960’s American society of racial discrimination, coloured people being diseased and sexist gender roles. Through conflict between the protagonist, Skeeter, who represents the futuristic audience, and other characters, the viewer is exposed to the common attitudes and beliefs of the era in an entertaining fashion. Throughout the film the viewer is positioned by Taylor, to respond…show more content…
Many white people believed that if a bathroom, toilet or eating utensils were shared with black people, the white person was at risk of getting the diseases. This point of view is highlighted, by Taylor, in an argument between Hilly and Elizabeth, in which Hilly refuses to use the bathroom of her friend Elizabeth, because it is shared with the black maid, Aibeleen. Hilly says, “Wouldn’t you rather them take their business outside… they carry diseases you know!” Hilly’s refusal to use the bathroom in this scence highlights the seriousness of this belief in the society. Some white people truly felt repulsed or scared of black people that they could not share facilities. Hilly goes on to say, “This is why I’ve drafted the home sanitation bill… it’s been approved by the White Citizens Society.” Hilly’s sanitation bill proposes a law that white people have a separate bathroom built for the coloured help, (maids, gardeners etc.) This enforces the dominant attitude that black people were seen as diseased because this bill has been approved by an organisation that represents white…show more content…
Black people were thought to be bearers of disease and as a result of these facts experienced discrimination. There were also many sexist ideals that were held by the society about the gender roles. White women were expected to be very much baby making wallflowers that made little contribution to the work force. The manipulation of characters and dialogue has been used by Taylor to highlight, inform the modern day Western audience of these dominant attitudes in an entertaining way. Because of its use of characters and its exploration of these historically significant issues, it has achieved huge box office success and is a well-known and respected

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