ABC is now owned by Disney. Dreamworks produced The Help movie, and Disney is the distributor.
So going in I knew that the 20/20 piece shown on Friday, July 15th would be one big promo for the movie.
It was worse than that.
Because the piece simply mirrored the novel, pairing two now grown adults with the maids who raised them. Like the novel, the reporting was slanted toward telling the stories of the adults, and not the maids.
And it simply showed that when there’s a Disney movie tie in, viewers shouldn’t expect the station to be impartial.
Only once did Roberts discuss with a maid what it was like FOR HER. Viewers got a a few seconds of remembrance, a brief glimpse of the fire that wouldn’t let the woman continue on a job that didn’t consider her worthy enough to sit on the family’s porcelin throne.
I suspect when told she couldn’t use the bathroom facilities in the home she was employed by, instead demanding her pay and quiting, this wasn’t the way the segment wanted to go.
Because they swiftly left that riveting personal account, attempting to segue into a weak ass transition of Minny being “fiesty” also and a good cook, like the actual maid. I mean, WTF?
See, it was important that the movie be tied in yet again. And it put me in mind of Stockett switching from Minny’s abuse, in the section of the novel where Celia is trying to ask Minny about the cut above her brow. Woulda, coulda, shoulda. Stockett had it, she had it right there.
A moment where the women could have established a bond that all females know. When the man you love puts his hands on you.
Instead Stockett dumps in a totally useless scenario, concentrating on a mysterious naked pervert. She switches from what could have been a much stronger bonding moment to pure slapstick, cheap and low down in the way the scene is written to simply show how Minny is too large to chase the man, while he gets to call her a “fat black nigger” as he strokes himself.
Why some readers, Viola Davis included want to pretend like this is “beautiful” writing is beyond me.
But then, I don’t have to live and work in Hollywood. And I’m not trying to promote a film.
And while I do love Viola Davis, my patience is wearing a bit thin with all the backtracking and double talk. Because if the book was “beautifully written” (another carefully planted phrase repeated often by those connected to the film. That one and how the film is also “fun”) then there would have been no reason for Davis NOT to say the lines in the thick accent Stockett created for Aibileen. Yet Davis said this in a recent interview (items in bold are my doing):
“I didn’t want her dialect to be as strong as it was in the book. For some reason, people always said that they had an issue with it, from what I understand. I’ve been online doing all kinds of research and that seems to be the constant criticism, that Aibileen’s accent was just too thick. And for me, I don’t want anything to distract from the character. I don’t want anyone to feel like they’re out of a movie, you know?”
The double talk and double standard surrounding Stockett’s crappy novel is astounding.
Do I have to play Lincoln Osirus from Tropic Thunder?
Spit that shit out Viola
“I checked on the internet and some black folks were seriously PISSED.”
Steven Spielberg’s name is attached to the film. If you think for one moment that if The Help had been about adorable, chic Nazi housewives, in particular one who was “liberal” who helped a group of Jewish maids to write a book, and has them telling intimate details on the families whose children grew up to join the Third Reich, if you think that Spielberg wouldn’t put his full clout behind seeing the thing exposed for what it was, then you’re crazy.
Especially if that book contained no mention of the beauty and struggle of the Jewish people, defaulting into stereotypes and mis-information that made fun of the Jewish culture, their speech, looks, ethnic behavior and also demeaned the Jewish male.
Yet some African Americans are supposed to be too stupid to see what Stockett wrote wasn’t a “homage” or anything close to honoring the maids who did everything to survive during segregation. It was a farce.
The book was probably just a ticket to Hollywood for a group of “friends” who’d formed a pact.
It’s no wonder Stockett couldn’t accurately recall how Medgar Evers died. It wasn’t crucial because the book wasn’t supposed to be a hit.
Only a funny thing happened. Stockett’s writing appealed to others who had repressed memories of the maids they’d never really paid a decent wage, and never really paid attention to until a new fad started.
Like planking, it suddenly became fashionable to talk about having a black maid and in some cases to talk for them. Suddenly love for The Help was pouring out of every nook and cranny, only where was all this “love” when blacks were being assaulted, threatened and murdered simply for seeking equality?
The promo, like the novel, insists on proving an antebellum theory. That blacks so “loved” the whites they were bound in servitude to.
Here’s an excerpt from an actual letter from a slaveholder, once cared for by a black woman. Notice how the same theme pops up, of assuming blacks just loved their white charges as much as they would love their own child.
“MY DEAR MRS. DE SAUSSURE:
I will proceed to answer your inquiries. You know I am Southern born and raised. I am a Georgian, and although never a slaveholder I was nursed by a negro woman to whom I was most fondly attached, and who, I believe, loved me as she would her own son. I have had the opportunity to mingle freely with slaveholders of different characters and dispositions, and while I regard slavery as such an enormous evil and am heartily glad that it has been abolished in this country,I am bound in candor to say that my observation, during all these years of my residence in Georgia and South Carolina, thoroughly convinced me that in the majority of cases slaves were more kindly treated and brought into more intimate and kindly relations to white families than they are now . . .”
© This work is the property of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It may be used freely by individuals for research, teaching and personal use as long as this statement of availability is included in the text.
What was curiously missing from the 20/20 piece, is what those now grown kids realize today. Unlike Stockett never bothered to have Skeeter do in the book, do they realize whites and blacks are equal? That segregation in any form is wrong, and would they publicly state it? Would they welcome an African American son-in-law or daughter-in-law? Or were these Kumbaya moments simply because the cameras were rolling?
God, I truly hope not.
Instead of asking any hard hitting questions, it became an Oprah like moment with cast members sitting on a couch, each one pimping the film when the camera came their way.
For quotes on what real life black domestics had to say about their employment (“love” is never mentioned) please read the post
There was even a segment during the 20/20 piece that focused on a family who had white caretaker they called a “Nanny” instead of a maid.
Roberts even called her a Supernanny. Yet even the nanny admitted she didn’t work as hard as the black maids had done back during segregation. Perhaps she knew more than the researcher for the segment.
The piece would have held more credibility if they’d cut out the “nanny” and interviewed immigrant women now in the position blacks were once in. Poor Hispanic American and Asian American females toiling long hours, while being intimidated to keep their mouths shut about their lousy working conditions.
And I wondered how Roberts could do the narration with a straight face, knowing that African American women and girls would be propositioned and even forceably raped on the job for simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time, their real life cases documented in the non-fiction book At The Dark End of The Street by Danielle McGuire.
While 20/20 showed scenes from the movie The Help of Celia squealing and Minny shrieking in surprise, I wondered just what Roberts really thought of all this white washing, and if her face was sore from doing so much grinning.
Oh, I almost forgot that Octavia Spencer added a quip about “voodoo dolls” and Roberts again mentioned the “friendship” Spencer had with Kathryn Stockett. Uh Yeah, right. Whatever.
If ABC had any scruples they’d do another piece, and this time they’d make it a hell of a lot more balanced.
A part of me wishes CBS, NBC or a cable news station beats them to it. Then Disney, Dreamworks and ABC would be scrambling to do damage control, only it’ll be TOO LITTLE , TOO LATE.
Just like how the network stuck the business relationship between all three companies at the end of the piece, when it should have been front and center.