Concessions 90210

A Help-Style White-on-Black Interview


Ok, so I haven't seen the movie, but I did hear Viola Davis interviewed on NPR, and it seemed to me like her perspective was that her character was a writer in her own right, having kept a journal of her experiences for her entire life. So when the white lady showed up and was like, "Tell me your story," she was like, "It's been done, stupid, here it all is."

But I haven't seen the movie.
I've read a few things about the story / theme of the movie, and it sounds like an interesting premise - why do whites in the south who are raised by blacks generally grow into these racist asses? - but not having seen the movie, it sounds like it unentionally answers the question via the mechanics of the story: because these blacks need whites to even give their perspctive. Ugh, and what a waste of a good idea.

I have family down in Texas (from a small little town with both the good and bad sides of the tracks), and its the same situation: Black nanny who seems to be part of the family and is entrusted with raising the kids, but when it comes to weddings and social events, is sat in the very back row and dismissed as mere 'help'. Its pathetic and disgusting.

By the way, the part about making him vacum - funny!
I haven't seen the movie either but I read the book. Sad that whitey had to get their voice heard but that's how it was back then. Are people bummed that white lady had to help? Or, as I think they should be, bummed that the sisters didn't self-publish or simply write a blog?
"I think it's racist that you're making me vacuum while you do it."

I haven't laughed this hard in a while. Thanks, Lindy's roommate!
You know, I see the point of the hubbub over the whole "benevolent white woman solves racism" thing, but I have to say that it's a bit of a stretch. To me (an admittedly super-white person), it seemed as though the movie was empowering for ALL of its protagonists. Yes, it's the white woman who does the interviews, publishes the book, yadda yadda...and the movie appropriately establishes the risks she takes doing so. Yay white woman! But it's the black women in the movie who, at a time and place where they could lose their livelihoods and their lives, had the courage to risk everything and tell their stories. There's even the lovely subplot of Octavia Spencer's character teaching Jessica Chastain's character (sorry, can't remember names) how to keep her house and turn her life around. Yay black women! And it's important to keep the context of the period in would be a ridiculously inaccurate and laughable premise historically if, say, Viola Davis's character had published the book herself.

It's a good movie; it's funny, it's touching, and it discusses the history of racism in America from an angle that feels fresh and important. Can we all please stop wringing our hands so much and just say that it's a movie about wonderful women doing great things to help combat racism, regardless of their own races?
I like the way you kept your roommate nameless to help us white people not think too hard about him.
"I think it's racist that you're making me vacuum while you do it." is the funniest thing you've ever written. The words of a black person. Hey, just like the movie!
@5 You're right, the historical setting of the film explains the logistics of the "benevolent white lady" storyline. But the underlying issue is that Hollywood opts to keep making movies like this rather than movies that empower people of color and address modern issues of racism.
It was a very enjoyable movie. Octavia Spencer was even better than Viola David IMO. All the bad people got their comeuppance and no good people were harmed for doing brave or honorable things (except for that one thing, which I won't mention in case you still want to see the movie). And the sets were beautiful and interesting.

Hey, did you guys see that 2-second shot of a bunch of Black women in a woman's prison? Is that what it was, a segregated prison? It was so quick I didn't even understand what I was looking at.
@6 & 7, holy crap, jerks! Maybe Lindy's roommate doesn't want you to know his name and try to find him on Lindy's facebook page.
@8 I agree that Hollywood should be making more movies that directly empower people of color. However, that doesn't mean that stories like The Help shouldn't be told as well.

@9 That's why Octavia is raking in all of the awards! It takes a lot for me to say that anyone was ever better than Viola Davis, but Ms. Spencer absolutely stole that movie. Phenomenal.
I'm in favor of any movie that gives major roles to Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer, not to mention the incomparable Cicely Tyson. I'll forgive them a hell of a lot for that.
@10- That was about the least jerk-ish thing I said on the internet today. Man, I must be a huge jerk.

Ah well. Tallyhoe!
Dwight Moody, you are a huge jerk. Especially if that was the "least jerk-ish" think you'd unnecessarily put out into the world today.