The Help, based on Kathryn Stockett's 2009 bestselling novel, clocks in at 137 minutes, so off we went.
It was time well spent. The story centers on three women living in Jackson, MS in the early 1960s . Two are African American maids; the third an idealistic white aspiring writer recently graduated from college. Skeeter, (played by a wide eyed actress Emma Stone) comes back to her hometown to find her childhood Mammy absent and her cancer-stricken mother concerned only with her impending spinsterhood. Witnessing the cruel injustice her high school girlfriends dole out to their hired help, and on the hunt for a story, she decides to interview the poorly paid domestic staff and find out how they feel about raising other people's children and being forced to use outside toilets. Actresses Octavia Spencer and Viola Davis play the maids who tell their story despite the real physical and financial threats it will pose to them. (Editorial note: the director seems to have a fascination with elimination-- there are prominent scenes and references to peeing and defecation. Freud would have a field day with that).
The movie draws a heavy-handed but powerful portrait of the racial tensions and inequities of the times.
Racism persists today, although for most educated Americans it is not considered publicly acceptable. A recent study found a significant gap in grant funding for African American scientists-- unexplained by education, achievement or experience. And if you've stomach enough to read the comments section of online news websites, you'll find stereotypes, bigotry and calls for violence against minorities that are hopefully much over-represented. Racism is at this point mostly institutionalized and subtle. It requires a higher level of internal investigation and vigilance to acknowledge and redress than the more blatant segregation of past years. It takes courage to stand up for injustice, and wisdom to understand the fear and ignorance behind it. It's important to keep the conversation fresh, and The Help does that. Go see it. And then go talk about it a while. Maybe have a revelation, and make a commitment to not let slide that innocent, kind of funny joke that perpetuates the problem. Befriend an "other." Don't forget or ignore the cruelty and courage of which all persons are capable. Show up and Stand Up.
Darkeness Cannot Put Out Darkness
Sermon: The People That Scare Us
Welcome to the middle path
- Jana Svoboda, LCSW
- Sporadic photos and notes from a Psyche-midwife, cheerleader, anthropologist--aka clinical social worker in therapy practice. Photos are usually mine except for those of historical events/famous people. Music relevant to the daily topic is often included in a web video embedded below the blog. Click on highlighted links in the copy to get to source or supplemental material. For contact information, see my website @ janasvoboda.com or click on the button to the right below. Join in the conversation.