6 Comments

“The Help” Made Me Uneasy …


Hello World!

This past week I went to watch the recently released movie The Help, based on a novel by Katherine Stockett of the same title. The whole experience made me uneasy, to say the least. I went for a matinee with my Mom and 15-year-old niece. From the onset we were surrounded by young, but mostly, middle-aged white women.

That fact struck me as odd, and I couldn’t really put my finger on it. I mean I know Stockett is a white woman, and just as Blacks do Tyler Perry, I imagined they were there to support her work. But still, it just felt highly taboo.

This is the South, after all, and for whites and (few) Blacks to be in the movie theater watching the same movie, one that is loosely based on the happenings in 1960s’ Mississippi, just seemed odd. I couldn’t help but think that perhaps we all were getting, or supporting, different messages of the movie.

Although I enjoyed the book (and I acknowledge the criticism of it), I found the film problematic, of course. Oh yes, it served its purpose along the lines of a “Blind Side”-type film: it evoked feelings of communality among the two races, there was a hero(ine) who happened to be white, and it was very sentimental. I even cried several times, but if you know me and movies, you’re probably saying what else is new. LOL

Key incidents of the book were cut from the movie and replaced with more “common” racial incidents, in my opinion, to not be so political or to not scare the good white patrons away. Like the omitted part of Louvenia’s grandson who is maliciously beaten and consequently blinded because he mistakenly uses a “whites-only” toilet. Or the desegregation of Ole Miss.

After reading the book, the movie just didn’t mesh right for me. Key background information was suspiciously missing. The white Mrs. Celia’s attentiveness to the maid Minny’s bruises, which were given by her abusive alcoholic husband, was depicted, yet where was the scene where Minny put her life on the line to protect her white boss from a lunatic home-intruder?

Another thing I did not like was the “sore” that appeared on Hilly‘s lip after rumors started flying about her eating Minny’s special pie. Correct me if I’m wrong (because I did step out of the theater for a min to answer a call), but I got the impression that the sore was to seem like a disease or some infection that she received from Minny’s feces??? This is not too far off since Hilly was the one who proposed the Bathroom Initiative because “Nigras have different diseases from white people”. After completing the book, I’m clear that the original storyline is that Hilly breaks out with a cold sore when she is really worried/stressed, but I don’t feel that that was made clear in the movie. And perhaps that was the intention: to leave it ambiguous. The main character’s mother even says something to the effect of “get out of here before we all catch that disgusting thing!” What did you make of the sore on Hilly’s lip?

The movie version of The Help was too docile and suspect of ulterior motives. And I still can’t shake the pondering of what the white audience were getting out of the movie? I suppose they could want to know the same thing about the black audience in attendance that day.

\”People Get Ready\” (Remix) by Alicia Keys and Lyfe Jennings

Peace, Blessings, and Prosperity.

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6 comments on ““The Help” Made Me Uneasy …

  1. I have not read the book. Should one read the book before going to see the movie?

    • That’s A good question, with a complicated answer (lol). I would say YES, because the book was great (although problematic for other reasons). BUT if you read first it’s kinda like being lied to, and a lot in the movie didn’t make sense bc they left out the background. I would say NO just for that same reason: apparently ignorance is bliss, according to all the rave reviews it is receiving (lol).

      Sent from my iPad

  2. Hi! I stumbled upon your blog because I just saw the movie and had to google “what was the sore on hilly’s mouth?” Your blog came up first in google. Haha….I see that you were wondering too. I thought that sore came on her lip because of the extreme stress she was under but it should have been addressed. It made me wonder if it was addressed in a deleted scene which may be seen on the dvd when it comes out.
    Thanks for your review of the movie.

  3. I think that with the “sore” the author implied that she has herpes or AIDS. She was so worried about what she could catch from black people that she cause one of the worst illnesses of all.

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