“You is smart, you is kind, you is important.”
This quote is directly from director Tate Taylor’s movie The Help, personalized from the novel of the same name by Kathryn Stockett. The Help follows one Caucasian, wealthy young woman Skeeter (portrayed by Emma Stone) and the connections and relationships she shares with several African American domestic workers or “babysitters” (portrayed by Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer). Brave, tenacious Skeeter is different so she is slaving away on a book that will blow the lid off the suffering endured by black maids. Skeeter interviews the maids about their experiences of working as ‘the help’ in the racially charged 1960s of Jackson, Mississippi. Set against the backdrop of the civil-rights movement, the film aims to inform those within the audience who have previously given little or no thought to the hardships faced by the racially subjugated African-American population of the South during this time.
The film has been specifically marketed as a progressive tale of achievement over racial injustice, although I believe it more prominently embodies the racial ‘white savior’ genre that Hollywood vigorously reinforces with such movies like Grand Torino, The Blind Side, Blood Diamond, Avatar, Freedom Writers and even the hit musical Hairspray. These films portray how a white person becomes an important part into the lives of a minority, who is usually living in poverty, or depressed times. More than likely, the white character is portrayed as having a better life than the minority character.
Many critics have placed The Help in the category...
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...outh has unfolded and developed into a country that is beautifully equal. In an article by Liepollo Pheko that was just published this month in 2012, it compares how “South Africans” view the movie as well. There tends to be that familiarity and remembrance in some of the issues the film raises, however inadequately it may engage with them.” In one incisive comment on social conditions, a white protagonist states, “We are separate but equal”, an ideology familiar to most South Africans and repugnant to the enlightened amongst us.” In the end from an academic perspective and just a regular viewer’s perspective, the help was a basic time line of how the south in Missippi was. As a whole on the other hand the south has grown but tends to forget why it is important to have movies like these so we can watch and remember how different life was back then in the south.
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