Tuesday, July 17, 2018

The Help Movie, and Legacy of Institutional Racism within Hollywood…

August 23, 2011 by  
Filed under Ent., Opinion, Weekly Columns

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(ThyBlackMan.com) Over the summer I have been spending an inordinate amount of time in the library and state archives with my daughter. This past week I was there to find out if a book I had requested, Muzzled: The Assault on Honest Debate by Juan Williams had arrived. Upon finding out it had not come yet, I passed a little blue Book called the Help – the 2009 Novel by Kathryn Stockett.

After reading the book I could not see what was all the fuss. The two words I  would use to describe it are quick and unimpressed. So unimpressed that I wanted to see why folks were marketing the Movie as if it were the Ten Commandments. And thankful to all that is available on the internet, I did not have to pay to see it. I hope people do not take this as a history lesson, but I am afraid many, who do not remember their being only four television channels or when there was no such thing as a self-service gas station probably will.

Both the book and the movie gave me the same feeling I got as a child watching Tarzan, running Africa like a king over all the black folk there as a single white man. Or like I did when I first saw Mississippi Burning, and was so vehemently upset because the portrayed the FBI as helping the civil Rights movement when history and fact states FBI under J. Edgar Hoover regarded the movement as public enemy number one: The book although supposedly written during civil rights struggle, barely mentions Edgar Evers assignation, the 16th street bombing or other issues that were daily occurrences in Mississippi. The help needs major help. It the kind of book and movie that make white folk feel good about themselves and black folk mad at the fabrications being presented. In the book, all the attention is on Skeeter as the narrator but in the movie it is one of the maids (Aibileen).

*In fact, given the time period, there was only one mention of violence in the story and that involved domestic black on black crime between one of the maids and her man. Although lynching’s were as frequent as the post man delivered mail. Hollywood as usual has sugar-coated the daily impact of racial discrimination and prejudice in America as if the truth is too painful. As a most movies about race (the legend of Baggar Vance comes to mind) white Hollywood need to create white super heroes who are made to be more involved in the struggle against racial oppression than whites.

Nelson George described this as “the magic negro” phenomena, where the black character is simple a mirror for the white man character to see themselves. The films of Hollywood especially that deal with race reflect the institutional racism common place to movie industry itself. To shine a real light on racism would be too show the real Hollywood. The Help is another in this tradition of having white folk tell the story of discrimination and racial hatred as if they lived it, while playing down the experiences of those who actually did.

Written By Torrance Stephens
Official website; http://rawdawgb.blogspot.com/


4 Responses to “The Help Movie, and Legacy of Institutional Racism within Hollywood…”
  1. john says:

    The reactions to this film have been as predictable as day following night. Broadly speaking white people like it (Oh its the best movie, and funny, I recommend it wholeheartedly) and black people curse under their breath “not another DAMN mammy film again”.

    Lets be clear, simply liking a film does not make you a racist. BUT, fawning over it and saying its the best movie you have seen, funny, witty etc and FAILING to notice the repetition of the same old tired stereotypes and themes DOES suggest that you are perhaps too “comfortable” (and thus not challenging enough) of those images and the status quo.

    That unfortunately DOES make you complicit in maintaining the veneer of living in a “post racial” world despite the glaring inequalities (if you care to look) that still exist.

    Its been done … nothing? new here. A movie purportedly about racism afflicting an oppressed community, but actually about the experience of the affluent white person defending that community. “To Kill a Mocking bird”, “Cry Freedom.” “Mississippi Burning.”, “The blind Side” the list goes on …

    To see why white people tend to like these films see these links:


    You will find a few eye openers there that may help take off the blinkers most of us on, when we choose to fail to see what is happening around us.

  2. anna says:

    Actually, there were several mentions of violence in the book, one being a young black man who was beaten and blinded for accidentally using a white bathroom. Maybe a better reading over of the book, rather than skimming other people’s reviews, would make this review better. The book is also presented from the perspectives of three people, not one.

  3. Sapphire says:

    This so called “review” is a bunch of pure crap!

    The film is fiction!

    It stems from a writers imagination and experiences, and it was not intended to be a documentary on civil rights, or black domestics! It also was not marketed as such.

    In fact, the majority of the talk about this film has roots in black folks talking, mostly from those who have not seen the film!

    All this talk about the film has done more to market/promote the film than any publicity firm has done! LOL!

    For those who want to see the film, go and see it!

    For those who do not want to see the film do not see it!

    What is the problem?

  4. Patsy says:

    This is an excellent review!

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