**Hot off the PRESS Reviews on The Help movie**

 

As reviews come in for the movie of The Help, I’ll post links and excerpts here. It’s being reported that the film’s release date has been moved up to August 10th, a Wednesday instead of August 12th.

The first review is from April Scissors blog Cease and Dasista

Excerpt:

“To be released in theaters on August 12, I was recently able to attend an advanced screening. It has taken me a while to absorb and digest the movie and decide what items are most important to address. I have walked away from this piece many times conflicted, hurt, frustrated, angry, and defeated.

The Black maid/ slave/servant-white “employer” narrative is so convoluted, rich in history and meaning, that it is impossible for one post to encompass it all (and I’m already writing a thesis). There is the narrative itself, both as book and film; there is the personal narrative of the author, Kathryn Stockett, whose wealthy Jackson, Mississippi family employed their own Black maid growing up; there is the south’s nostalgia for the antebellum past; there’s also Hollywood’s general obsession with whitewashing history.

 Of course, all of that can be summed up by simply acknowledging that the commercialized mainstream media culture is only able to address the United States’ racist past, racial tension, and racial inequality if it absolves white guilt/complicity, valorizes whiteness through history, mythologizes that history, or ignores historical accuracy all together. And it seems the only way the mass American audience is interested in seeing films that explicitly involve relationships between Blacks and whites is if it does those aforementioned things.”

To read the full movie review, please click the link below:

Link http://aprilscissors.com/2011/06/30/the-help/

Aibileen and Minny having a ball in the kitchen, as the whitewashing of segregation via films returns

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This next review is courtesy of Carolyn Edgar’s Blog:

“Remember that bad old time called the 1960s when the American South was racist, but it all ended thanks to a white girl writing about black maids in Mississippi? Apparently, this is the premise of the film version of “The Help . . . ”

“. . . More than questionable casting and adaptation choices, the real problem with the film version of “The Help” is that it fits all too neatly into the Hollywood tradition of black stories being framed and told through the lens of a white character. “The Help” had all the worst elements of “The Blind Side,” “Invictus” and “The Last King of Scotland,” without a powerful story to make up for it. At the end, when Aibileen walks off, determined to be a writer herself, you wonder how she’s going to pull it off. “The Help” suggests no one would be interested in publishing her story, unless she can successfully masquerade as a white woman telling it.”

To read the full movie review, please click the link below:

Link: http://carolynedgar.wordpress.com/2011/07/21/the-help-a-review/

Now might be a good time to explain what is and isn’t a Review in my opinion:

This is not a review, but a promo for the studio:

“Right off the bat: Bryce Dallas Howard, the actress/producer and Ron Howard‘s talented daughter, finally breaks through with this film. She is just mesmerizing as the nastiest piece of work you could hope to find a film. Her Hilly hasn’t got one redeeming feature. She is a racist and truly awful. But despite being a villainess extraordinaire, Bryce is never once campy or stereotypical.”

Link: http://www.showbiz411.com/2011/07/22/disney-is-going-to-look-pretty-smart-with-the-help

After reading the whole thing, there was nothing about the film itself. And there’s nothing here that you couldn’t have gotten from the novel, or by checking out interviews from the cast. Nothing on the plot, where it succeeds, where it fails, did the film crest in the first five minutes or hold his attention throughout?

As written, it’s a sucking up piece to Disney and Dreamworks. And really, it never claimed to be a review.

But what made me suspicious is that the U.S. trailer shows Howard’s acting is over the top. True, this isn’t the fault of the actress, but how she was directed to perform. Here she is screaming in bed after reading Help for the first time.

Hilly screams while reading the maids novel

Now she’s shouting outside the bathroom door when she thinks Minny is using it,  there’s a scene where she’s squealing in delight (when Skeeter comes home) or crying (when she finds the toilets on her lawn, per the trailer).

Hilly, played by Bryce Dallas Howard thinks Minny is using her bathroom and spreading disease

 
 

Tears over toilets during segregation

 

And here’s the newly added “confrontation” between Skeeter and Hilly, where she gets physical: 

Catfight between Hilly and Skeeter

The promo piece is also written by the same guy who was fired by Fox back in 2009 for watching a bootlegged copy of the then unreleased Wolvervine  movie online, reviewing it and then bragging about how piracy made his life so much easier (he could now watch movies online instead of going to the theater).  You can read all about it here: http://www.deadline.com/2009/04/exclusive-fox-news-fires-showbiz-columnist-for-encouraging-piracy/

I see where a few bloggers are copying and pasting Friedman’s opinion/promo as if it were a review. I disagree with doing that. Seems Friedman may have to wait until August 10th to see the film, at least that’s what I got from the lack of info about the movie in his glowing article.

This is nothing new though. It’s done all the time in publishing and film. It’s the same thing that propelled The Help novel, where a blurb by the publisher was picked up and used instead of reviewers analyzing the book themselves.

But the benefit is that the publisher or studio can point to those blogs and say “Look! look at all the great reviews we’re getting!”

So I will try to post reviews that at least have information on the film itself (and don’t set off my bullshit meter)

Don't believe the Hype

 

 

Nicole Sconiers has an in depth movie review on her blog of the same name. Here’s an excerpt:

The movie deals in binaries aplenty, draped in Confederate flags, hanging moss and “Whites Only” signs. Nothing is nuanced in this flick, as if the director took a page out of the Tyler Perry Manual of Filmmaking. Judging by the raucous laughter that floated up to me in the balcony, I’d say he succeeded. The white women, particularly Bryce Howard’s odious housewife Hilly, are ruthless bigots solely concerned with maintaining their way of life and keeping the nigras in their place. The black women exist merely as props for them to perpetrate their evil — or as consolers, as holders of white babies, as sassy chicken fryers. “Frying chicken make you tend to feel better about life,” says the feisty Minny, played by Octavia Spencer, as she consoles her employer, Celia, after a recent miscarriage. Potty jokes are rife in this film — from Aibileen’s attempts to toilet train Elizabeth’s toddler, Mae Mobley, to Hilly’s mission to have every white household build a separate toilet for servants, to the shit Minny bakes into a chocolate pie and serves to Hilly. I had no idea The Help was a comedy. Many times, I fidgeted in my seat as the largely black audience hooted at what was supposed to be a sobering look at the sometimes tense relationship that exists between black and white women. I’m no curmudgeon. I chuckled during a few scenes, but it felt more like I was laughing to keep from crying.”

You can read the entire review here:

http://nicolesconiers.com/blog/2011/07/28/the-help-white-women-saviors-and-maids-with-superpowers/

 

 

Another review, short and to the point. Since these reviews are taken from other sites, I have hidden the names (click image for a larger view):

Review of the movie

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Two differing reviews of the movie

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
This one is long, so I had to split it into two screen shots:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 (Continued)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click Image for a larger view:

**Have to interject here:   Note this line “the colored folks actually saved themselves. Minny and Aibileen, as well as the other colored folks in the community were the real “heroes” of the movie; they just needed someone to push them to their potential (Skeeter)”

That line perfectly sums up a major bone of contention about the novel, and may also be what’s controversial about the film. Why? Because far too many people would rather believe a film than real history. African Americans were tired of being mistreated and maligned, so the fight and burning desire for civil rights grew out of violent and demeaning oppression. It was started by African Americans, for African Americans. But the result effected other minority groups, like white women and the physically challenged.

Like the novel, the notion that “someone had to push them to their potential” falls back on the stereotype that blacks could do nothing for themselves unless someone white was at the helm.

 

One of the first “professional” reviews to come in for the movie, from Andrew O’ Hehir of Salon Magazine:

“It’s a veritable smorgasbord of great female performances, and I don’t care how analytical you are about “The Help” as a social signifier, you’re still gonna laugh and think uncomfortable thoughts and cry like a little kid with a dead gerbil. Bring a pocketful of tissues. On second thought, these are hard times, no matter what color you are; buy the generic brand and bring the whole box.”

Link: http://www.salon.com/entertainment/movies/andrew_ohehir/2011/08/09/the_help_review

 

 

 

 Here’s journalism instructor and author Valerie Boyd’s take on the movie for Arts Critic ATL.com:

“The Help,” a feel-good movie — for white people

“In fact, the movie ends on a falsely uplifting note, with Aibileen claiming to feel liberated after being fired while Skeeter plans to go shopping with her mother for a new wardrobe before starting her big new job in New York City. Aibileen is now an unemployed maid, Skeeter is moving forward in her life of white privilege — and the filmmakers expect viewers to feel good about this.

The problem is, many white viewers will.

Director (and screenwriter) Tate Taylor, a white Mississippian, presents his white characters in such stark, simplistic terms that white viewers will naturally identify with Skeeter, who the director wants us to see as heroic (despite what more politically conscious viewers will see as her exploitation of Aibileen’s ideas and words). Those well-meaning white moviegoers also will find it easy to distance themselves from Hilly, a society girl whose racism is so cartoonish that it becomes laughable rather than alarming. No contemporary filmgoer will see herself in a walking stereotype like Hilly. Of course, white viewers will say, I’m not like that.”

See the full review here:

http://www.artscriticatl.com/2011/08/film-review-the-help-a-feel-good-movie-for-white-people/

 

 

 

 

A review of the film by  NY Times critic Manohla Dargis:

‘The Maids’ Now Have Their Say

” What does remain, though, is the novel’s conceit that the white characters, with their troubled relationships and unloved children, carry burdens equal to those of the black characters. Like the novel, the movie is about ironing out differences and letting go of the past and anger. It’s also about a vision of a divided America that while consistently insulting and sometimes even terrifying, is rarely grotesque, despite Hilly’s best (worst) segregationist efforts. Inside all these different homes, black and white women tend to the urgent matters of everyday life, like the care and feeding of children. And while every so often the roar of the outside world steals in like thunder, Mr. Taylor makes sure it doesn’t rattle the china or your soul. “

Read the full review here:

Link: http://movies.nytimes.com/2011/08/10/movies/the-help-spans-two-worlds-white-and-black-review.html

 

 

 

 

 

The Christian Science Monitor weighs in with The Help: A movie review Peter Rainer

Set in the Jim Crow South, ‘The Help’ too often feels like a civics lesson despite moments of nobility with stellar performances by Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer.”

“ . . .It should not have been necessary for Taylor to caricature Hilly and the gossipy others, who also include scowly Elizabeth (Ahna O’Reilly), Aibileen’s boss, and the childless, flirty trailer-trash Celia (Jessica Chastain). The ordeals of Aibileen and the other maids are sufficiently powerful without having to stack the deck.

Did the filmmakers perhaps feel that they would be capitulating to racism if they portrayed Hilly and her sister belles with a smidgen more “understanding”? (The men in the film barely register.) But comprehending a character’s actions is not the same thing as endorsing them. The intense superficiality of Hilly and the others is a disservice to the emotional complexity of racism and what it does to people, black and white. The superficiality is doubly felt because the performances by Stone – but especially by Davis and Spencer – are so much more deeply felt. A lifetime of pain is in Aibileen’s weary rectitude and hard-set eyes. Minny, though much more flamboyant, carries the same burdens. The presence of these two women, which is ennobling without falsifying that nobility with sentimentality, periodically lifts “The Help” into a higher realm than, given its civics-lesson trappings, it probably deserves.

At the same time, I would defend “The Help,” simplistic though it is, against the charge some have leveled against it for being “patronizing.” It’s true that, by framing the maids’ stories through Skeeter’s lens, the film implicitly overvalues the historical contribution of whites to the civil rights movement. But this film is a far cry from, say, “Mississippi Burning,” which made white FBI agents into civil rights heroes.

There are not so many stirring, full-fledged black characters on the screen, particularly black female characters, that we should feel it necessary to downgrade the few that we have by playing the blame game.”

Read the entire review here:

http://www.csmonitor.com/The-Culture/Movies/2011/0809/The-Help-movie-review

 

 

 

 

Time Magazine online review, written by Mary Pols

“There is something about The Help that feels familiar and old-fashioned, as if it came out of that 1970s Brian’s Song– and Roots-era of tears and lessons. It’s also familiar because Hollywood stories of racism usually skew to the white character leading the charge against injustice (Mississippi Burning, Glory, Cry Freedom).

In Stockett’s book, the feisty white heroine Skeeter is tall, gawky, frizzy-haired and can’t get a date; to play Skeeter in the movie, pretty, graceful Emma Stone just puts on glasses and some tomboy airs. She’s not bad, but this was a poor casting choice. Skeeter is a bluestocking, having developed liberal notions and journalistic aspirations at college that put her at odds with her old friends Hilly and Elizabeth. It’s her idea to write a book using accounts by Aibileen and her best friend Minny (Octavia Spencer, a sassy eye-roller), Hilly’s maid, and other domestics to expose how rotten the white women are to their servants. “

Read more: http://www.time.com/time/arts/article/0,8599,2087706,00.html#ixzz1Uke44LAX

 

 

 

 

“Black and white, and not enough ‘Help’” By Ann Hornaday of The Washington Post

“”You is kind, you is smart and you is impo’tant,” Aibileen repeatedly intones to her young white charge.

As anguishing as those scenes are, both in vernacular and substance, there’s no denying the cathartic exhilaration of watching Aibileen, Minny (Octavia Spencer, in a breakout performance) and Skeeter form their fragile but potent friendship, even as they keep their furtive meetings secret from their respective communities.

Skeeter is under her own pressures to hew to traditional definitions of Southern womanhood and get married like her friends, who inherit their low-wage servants much as some of their ancestors might have inherited enslaved people. But Skeeter’s discomfort serves as an inadequate index for the pain and suffering of Aibileen and Minny, who endanger their very lives by speaking candidly about segregation’s grimmest realities.

One of those truths, which “The Help” deserves praise for bringing to light, is that racism should be understood less as a matter of black grievance than of unexamined white privilege and pathology. And no one is more race-crazy than Hilly, portrayed by Dallas Howard in “The Help’s” weakest performance as a cruel, snake-eyed witch whose villainy extends to making Minny use an outside toilet even during a hurricane.

Hilly’s monstrousness is in keeping with “The Help’s” tendency to reduce its characters to stock types, but it has the effect of enabling white viewers to distance themselves from racism’s subtler, more potent expressions. (Far more troubling than Hilly’s brand of insanity is the disapproving but passive acquiescence of her mother, played with vinegary brio by Sissy Spacek.) “

Read the full review here:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/gog/movies/the-help,1175294/critic-review.html#reviewNum1

 

 

 

 

Race, class, and Hollywood gloss: ‘The Help’ manages to mean well without forging new ground

by Boston Globe film Critic Wesley Morris

 ”. . . One woman’s mammy is another’s man’s mother. What can you do? It’s possible both to like this movie – to let it crack you up, then make you cry – and to wonder why we need a broad, if sincere dramatic comedy about black maids in Jackson, Miss., in 1962 and ’63 and the high-strung white housewives they work for. The movie is too pious for farce and too eager to please to comment persuasively on the racial horrors of the Deep South at that time.

Ads mostly feature the white actors in various tizzies, using accents wide as a boulevard. It’s “Tin Magnolias.’’ Meanwhile, the heart of the film itself belongs to Aibileen Clark (Viola Davis) and Minny Jackson (Octavia Spencer), the two very different maids and best friends at the center of the story. Aibileen is stoic. Minny is defiant. But the movie, like the extremely popular Kathryn Stockett novel it’s based on, uses the civil rights movement to suggest that the help could use some help. And so a young white woman named Skeeter Phelan (Emma Stone) finds herself writing a controversial book in the words of the maids who work in the homes of her girlfriends.”

Read the full review here:

http://articles.boston.com/2011-08-10/ae/29872908_1_hilly-holbrook-maids-emma-stone

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Movie Review: Like Good Southern Cooking, The Help Comforts & Satisfies

E Online review by Matt Stevens

“ . . .The book and film’s emotional core is Aibileen. Davis powerfully embodies this character who somehow faces unspeakable personal tragedy and a lifetime of social injustice with unwavering faith. Stone, too, is stellar as the plucky, progressive Skeeter, but Spencer, though adequately sassy and outspoken, never conveys Minny’s deep well of bitterness and rage.

Screenwriter-director Tate Taylor, a Jackson native, has a clear understanding of Southern culture and manages to stitch together the many patches of this crazy quilt, even if some pieces don’t fit perfectly. But his visual style is too golden-sunny and colorful for the subject’s darker undertones.

Although flawed, the well-acted Help is like a cooling drink during these dog days at the multiplex, overheated by raunched-out comedies and bombastic superheroes. So help yourself.

The 180—a Second Opinion: Allison Janney is miscast as Skeeter’s mom, and her final-reel face-off with Hilly, which veers from the novel, is as forced as Janney’s accent.

Read the full review here:

http://www.eonline.com/news/movie_reviews/movie_review_like_good_southern_cooking/257496

 

 

 

 

DFW.com review of The Help by Catherine Mallette

” . . . If it all sounds stereotypical, that’s because it is. This film has some pretty big flaws. Racially speaking, the characters are broad generalizations, the white women unthinking and fearful and the black women noble and brave. Even with the main characters — Skeeter, Aibileen, Minnie — we don’t get a strong sense of personal motivation or background. (For example, a plot point about Minnie suffering domestic abuse goes absolutely nowhere.) The ending takes too long to wrap up, and there is an overdose of sentimentality to it.

 This film had me alternately laughing and crying like a baby about to lose the underpaid help who loves her more than her momma does. There are some hilarious lines, a mix of funny and painful scenes, and some outstanding acting (Stone and Janney with their mom-daughter porch scene). Other highlights: Sissy Spacek is wonderful as Missus Walters, and Cicely Tyson says, well, pretty much everything, in one scene that focuses primarily on her hands and eyes.

The Help is entertaining, emotion-driven and tissue-worthy. But it is also a movie that will, so to speak, get under your skin if you let it.”

Read the full review here:

Link: http://www.dfw.com/2011/08/09/492011/movie-review-the-help-emma-stone.html

 

 

 

 

Black-and-White Struggle With a Rosy Glow By Author Nelson George for the NY Times

 

A larger problem for anyone interested in the true social drama of the era is that the film’s candy-coated cinematography and anachronistic super-skinny Southern belles are part of a strategy that buffers viewers from the era’s violence. The maids who tell Skeeter their stories speak of the risks they are taking, but the sense of physical danger that hovered over the civil rights movement is mostly absent.
Medgar Evers is murdered in Jackson during the course of the story, but it is more a TV event, very much like the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, than a felt tragedy. The only physical violence inflicted on any of the central characters is a beating Minny endures at the hands of a heard, but unseen, husband. At its core the film is a small domestic drama that sketches in the society surrounding its characters but avoids looking into the shadows just outside the frame.”

Link: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/14/movies/black-and-white-struggle-through-hollywoods-rosy-glow.html?pagewanted=1

 

 

 

 

Why Hollywood keeps whitewashing the past

“The Help” is just the latest movie to sugarcoat oppression by painting enlightened white people as heroes

By Matt Zoller Seitz

“And so, yet again, for what seems like the zillionth time, a heart-tugging Hollywood film transforms a harrowing and magnificent period of African-American life into a story of once-blinkered white people becoming enlightened. The black characters’ struggles are sensitively rendered, magnificently acted, and sometimes heartbreaking sideshows. Although Viola Davis’ subtle performance anchors the movie, and will likely earn this perpetually underrated actress an Oscar nomination, giving Aibileen the movie’s voice-over won’t fool anybody. This is Skeeter’s movie. She’s the one who sets the plot in motion. Without her youthful idealism, these downtrodden black women would have continued to suffer in silence.”

Link:http://www.salon.com/entertainment/movies/feature/2011/08/12/why_hollywood_keeps_white_washing_the_past/index.html

 

 

 

 

 

‘The Help’: The Reviews Are In!

While some hail the film as the finest drama of the summer, other critics aren’t as kind

by Eric Ditzian for MTV.com

“In a summer filled with wizards and robots and all manner of nasty alien invaders, some critics are pointing to “The Help” as perhaps the finest drama of the season, highlighting not only Stone’s performance, but that of Viola Davis, who could well be part of the upcoming awards-season hubbub. Other reviewers, though, haven’t been as kind, citing a jumbled story structure and an overall maudlin tone that distracts from the weighty themes of the film. Read on for those critiques and more . . .”  (MTV has a excerpts from several reviewers around the country)

Link: http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1668835/the-help-emma-stone-reviews.jhtml

 

 

 

 

Life In The South, Through The Eyes Of ‘The Help’

by Ella Taylor for NPR.com

“Big hair, fine period frocks and interior design lend The Help a pleasingly retro look. Yet for someone who grew up in Mississippi, the director has little sense of place, unless you count one decidedly low-rent tornado and a few inside shots of a black church. Unlike Stockett, who might have been better off writing her own screenplay, Taylor has a tin ear for the vernacular speech of his own region. Much of the dialogue seems lifted from Margaret Mitchell, with the result that virtually no one escapes caricature, from Bryce Dallas Howard, anxiously overdoing a vicious housewife who has made it her life’s mission to bar servants from their employers’ bathrooms, to Sissy Spacek, marooned in an excruciating dotty-old-lady role as her mother, to Jessica Chastain as a good-hearted white-trash interloper trying to break into a circle as conscious of class as it is bigoted about color.

Worst of all, the pivotal figure of Minny (Octavia Spencer), a motor-mouthed maid with a gift for ruffling white feathers, has been broadened into something approaching a black mammy, then drafted, in the movie’s last act, into an episode of The Jeffersons, complete with revenge in the form of chocolate pie containing suspect ingredients.

In his lumbering way, Taylor makes Stockett’s story his own by expanding the book’s mild lavatorial metaphors for the ill-considered farce that pretty much takes over the movie’s last act. All of which shoves into the background some beautifully tempered acting by one of our great character actresses.”

http://www.npr.org/2011/08/09/139084261/life-in-the-south-through-the-eyes-of-the-help

 

 

 

 

 

The Help tops US box office but hits controversy

Adaptation of Kathryn Stockett’s book The Help, about white women and black housekeepers, is criticised by Wire actor Wendell Pierce as ‘segregation lite’.

 By Martin Chilton, Digital Culture Editor
 
 

” . . .The Help was well done but was a passive version of the terror of Jim Crow South . . . My mother told me how she wasn’t allowed in the kitchen. She couldn’t eat during a 12-hour shift . . . She couldn’t drink water from the kitchen but had to go to the faucet outdoors . . . Watching the film in Uptown New Orleans to the sniffles of elderly white people while my 80-year-old mother was seething, made clear distinction … the story was a sentimental primer of a palatable segregation history that is Jim Crow light. . . ”

See the full article here:

 
 
 
 
 
 

How Viola Davis saves ‘The Help’

“The Help deserves real credit for venturing onto turf most studio films don’t go near, but told properly, its story should make audiences uncomfortable rather than complacent. And here’s where the movie goes most wrong. Its villain, Hilly Holbrook — a hypocritical, smug, near-psychotic queen of the mean girls who would rather spit her own maid out into a hurricane than let her use her toilet — is so overdrawn that anyone not wearing a white hood can feel enlightened by comparison. But most ladylike Southern racists didn’t behave like Cruella De Vil. The “nice,” the moderate, and the well-meaning — some of them were even good mothers! — also inflicted a thousand small insults and injuries that remain more challenging to confront. Instead of going there, The Help indulges in lowball comedy and the soothing cliché that black caregivers are almost supernaturally maternal, with enough love and time for their own children and their white charges. The fact that a stereotype is meant as a compliment doesn’t make it less simplistic. And the twist that a delicious meal cooked by a nice white lady is what gives outspoken Minny (Octavia Spencer) the fortitude to leave her abusive husband isn’t merely patronizing; it’s a violation of everything we know about her strong-willed character.”

Link: http://popwatch.ew.com/2011/08/26/help-viola-davis/

 

 

 

 

The Solace of Preparing Fried Foods and Other Quaint Remembrances from 1960s Mississippi: Thoughts on The Help

by Roxane Gay for THE RUMPUS
August 17th, 2011

“. . .Hollywood has long been enamored with the magical negro—the insertion of a black character into a narrative who bestows upon the protagonist the wisdom they need to move forward in some way or as Matthew Hughey defines the phenomenon in a 2009 article in Social Problems, “The [magical negro] has become a stock character that often appears as a lower class, uneducated black person who possesses supernatural or magical powers. These powers are used to save and transform disheveled, uncultured, lost, or broken whites (almost exclusively white men) into competent, successful, and content people within the context of the American myth of redemption and salvation.” (see: Ghost, The Legend of Bagger Vance, Unbreakable, Robin Hood (1991), The Secret Life of Bees, Sex and the City, The Green Mile, Corinna, Corinna etc.)

In The Help, there are not one but twelve or thirteen magical negroes who use their mystical negritude to make the world a better place by sharing their stories of servitude and helping Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan grow out of her awkwardness and insecurity into a confident, racially aware, independent career woman. It’s an embarrassment of riches for fans of the magical negro trope. . . .

If you do bring your brain to The Help, the movie is worse than you might imagine. Seeing The Help through a critical lens was excruciating.  At one point, while teaching Celia Foote to make fried chicken, Minny says, “Frying chicken tend to make me feel better about life.”

That a line about the solace found in the preparation of fried foods made it into a book and movie produced this decade says a great deal about where we are in acting right about race. We are nowhere. That line was one of many that made me cringe, cry, roll my eyes, or hide my face in my hands. To say I was uncomfortable is an understatement.

Little things also grate. The over-exaggerated dialect spoken by the maids evokes cowed black folk shuffling through their miserable lives singing Negro spirituals. In Aibileen’s home, for example, there are pictures of white Jesus and her recently deceased son. After Medgar Evars is shot and JFK attends his funeral, the camera pans to the wall where a picture of JFK joins the other two, not say, a picture of Medgar Evars himself or another civil rights leader. In another subplot, of which there are many, Skeeter’s childhood nanny, Constantine (Cicely Tyson) is so devastated after being fired by the white family for whom she worked for over twenty-seven years, she dies of a broken heart. The gross implication is that her will to live came from wiping the asses and scrubbing the toilets of white folks for most of her life. It’s this kind of white fantasy wish fulfillment that makes the movie so frustrating.”

Link: http://therumpus.net/2011/08/the-solace-of-preparing-fried-foods-and-other-quaint-remembrances-from-1960s-mississippi-thoughts-on-the-help/

 

 

 

 

I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free: On Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes And The Help

by Max S. Gordon  writer, activist for The New Civil Rights Movement

August 21, 2011

 

“You know something very bizarre is going on in Hollywood when the movie “Rise of Planet of the Apes” tells more about the black experience in America than “The Help . . .

It was clear from the trailer that The Help was trying for something, but since that something wasn’t historical accuracy, I’m still not sure what that something was. What is clear is that it was created in the “chick-​flick”, summer-​vacation, drop-​your-​pre-​teenage-​daughters-​and-​their-​friends-​at-​the-​mall-​to-​get-​them-​out of-​the-​house movie romance variety, with a little civil rights back story tossed in for spice.

This cynicism isn’t mine, however. It comes from movie studio boardrooms and marketing departments, and a screenwriter, typing away eagerly at his adaptation while trying to solve a problem which has nothing to do with history, and everything to do with business: how do you create a movie about civil rights without lynching, or fire-​hoses and police dogs turned on crowds, or crosses burned on lawns, or angry white men, or angry black men, or sex, or hate, or cruelty, and still find room for laughs, romance, a mother/​daughter story, a spunky career-​girl story, and a happy ending? Definitely a conundrum, which could only lead to the dissociated, warped script that unfolded on the screen in front of me. . .

We never see an Aibileen who is frustrated with a white child, or wants to strangle it because the kid may turn out to be just like one of the women she works for. Aibileen is always kind, always patient. The script makes her low energy the result of grief, but that’s too easy. Aibileen, (with the exception of a few lines), has almost no growl, not even in private when white people aren’t looking. Which means her devotion is total – she is Mammy.” 

 

http://thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/i-wish-i-knew-how-it-would-feel-to-be-free-on-rise-of-planet-of-the-apes-and-the-help/discrimination/2011/08/21/25639

One Response “**Hot off the PRESS Reviews on The Help movie**” →
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  1. THE HELP | Truth Seeker Blog

    [...] Some criticize the movie for whitewashing history. Besides the arrest scene, the movie refers to the murder of Medgar Evers,a civil rights activist. The KKK shot Evers outside Civil Rights activist Medgar Evers [...]

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