The Help Takes the Box Office, Becomes Second Viable Best Picture Contender of 2011

Be it controversial or not there is no denying the power of The Help so much so that it is lighting up the box office through word of mouth.  The publicity has been off the hook as well, perhaps not playing to the blogerati but hitting right at the heart of white audiences, right smack dab in the middle of Blind Side territory.

I was sitting at a dinner with about six women (white, upper middle class) and the first thing that was brought up was “have you seen The Help? Wasn’t that so good?”  The conversation then checked in with who hadn’t yet seen it.  After it died down I brought up the subject of race.  Needless to say it didn’t go over well.  What did come out of the conversation was how timely the film was in terms of Hispanic nannies (do we say Hispanic or Latina?) and how there should be some rumination on this idea of what determines family and what doesn’t.

You can’t tell people who responded emotionally to a film like this that they shouldn’t like it because it isn’t politically correct, or that it’s offensive to African Americans and that any response to that is an endorsement of said repression and the perpetuating of the Jim Crow racism that has and continues to oppress multitudes.  I’m not even saying I disagree.  But I am acknowledging the emotional power of the film, just as I’m now acknowledging that a movie that does this well at the box office, has this kind of emotional heat, plays to women the way it does, has a very very good chance at winding up in the number 1 spot on AMPAS ballots.  Like last year’s winner proved, the heart wants what it wants. No matter if it was a stuttering King or not – the emotional response is real.

What makes an accidental Best Picture nominee today? It’s usually a movie that somehow slips under or over the blogerati, and/or critics (mind you, The Help received many good reviews, most notably from Entertainment Weekly’s Owen Gleibermann) to become a hit and a strong awards contender DESPITE the shunning by the elite (this theory was offered up on our podcast recording this morning by Jeff Wells).  In other words, a good movie is a good movie is a good movie.

When you have a screening at the White House by Michelle Obama and a very public endorsement by Ms. Oprah Winfrey herself, you can pretty much forget any sort of pubic shaming of the film; it has now been deemed perfect acceptable by two of the country’s strongest and most powerful black women.

It is also important to remember that voting is done privately and anonymously.  That keeps it fairly honest so that no one is necessarily going to vote for what they SHOULD vote for – not for the best film, but the film they liked the most, starring characters they cared about the most.  When it gets right down to it, the heart is the most influential organ when it comes to Oscar voting.

Therefore, I see The Help clocking in as 2011′s second truly strong and formidable Oscar contender (plus, when you get a load of the publicity team behind it you will see it can’t be beat).  I count the first as Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris, another film that is receiving strong word of mouth, is Woody Allen’s biggest money maker to date and feels more timely than ever, as its message is about looking to the future and not trying to live in the past.

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  1. Gentle Benj
    August 21, 2011

    Can I declare a preemptive moratorium on comments contending that TREE OF LIFE/HARRY POTTER/APES/whatever is also a viable BP candidate? Thanks.

    THE HELP’s performance has been truly amazing. At this rate, it will earn $100 million in less than 20 days, which is fast enough to earn it a place on Box Office Mojo’s chart of fastest $100m earners. If the openers underperform in the next two weeks, THE HELP may find itself at the top of the charts in its 2nd, 3rd and 4th weekends. I never saw this coming.

    These earnings, coupled with the film’s BFCA score, make me think that this is a movie that would get a BP nod even in a year with only five nominees. It’s a true phenomenon, even more than the book was, I think.

  2. Gentle Benj
    August 21, 2011

    Can I declare a preemptive moratorium on comments contending that TREE OF LIFE/HARRY POTTER/APES/whatever is also a viable BP candidate? Thanks.

    THE HELP’s performance has been truly amazing. At this rate, it will earn $100 million in less than 20 days, which is fast enough to earn it a place on Box Office Mojo’s chart of fastest $100m earners. If the openers underperform in the next two weeks, THE HELP may find itself at the top of the charts in its 2nd, 3rd and 4th weekends. I never saw this coming.

    These earnings, coupled with the film’s BFCA score, make me think that this is a movie that would get a BP nod even in a year with only five nominees. It’s a true phenomenon, even more than the book was, I think.

  3. Tye-Grr
    August 21, 2011

    I agree, Gentle Benji. I’m thinking that Tate Taylor is looking better and better as a viable Best Director contender as well.

  4. Tye-Grr
    August 21, 2011

    I agree, Gentle Benji. I’m thinking that Tate Taylor is looking better and better as a viable Best Director contender as well.

  5. Aubrey Titmuss
    August 21, 2011

    I hope they include the following characters in future Conan sequels:

    Akiro, Bêlit, Fafnir, Red Sonja, Subotai, Valeria, Zenobia

    I look forward to seeing the following villains in future Conan sequels:

    Jenna, Kulan Gath, Mikhal “the Vulture” Oglu, Rexor, Serpent Men, Thorgrim, Thoth-Amon, Thulsa Doom, Vammatar, Xaltotun, Yezdigerd, Zukala

  6. Aubrey Titmuss
    August 21, 2011

    I hope they include the following characters in future Conan sequels:

    Akiro, Bêlit, Fafnir, Red Sonja, Subotai, Valeria, Zenobia

    I look forward to seeing the following villains in future Conan sequels:

    Jenna, Kulan Gath, Mikhal “the Vulture” Oglu, Rexor, Serpent Men, Thorgrim, Thoth-Amon, Thulsa Doom, Vammatar, Xaltotun, Yezdigerd, Zukala

  7. Gentle Benj
    August 21, 2011

    I dunno about Tate Taylor. I hate to invoke DRIVING MISS DAISY, as it seems a little on the nose, but it won Best Picture without getting a nomination for its director. I’d be inclined to predict a BP nod for THE HELP, and a Directing nod for Terrence Malick.

  8. Gentle Benj
    August 21, 2011

    I dunno about Tate Taylor. I hate to invoke DRIVING MISS DAISY, as it seems a little on the nose, but it won Best Picture without getting a nomination for its director. I’d be inclined to predict a BP nod for THE HELP, and a Directing nod for Terrence Malick.

  9. Gentle Benj
    August 21, 2011

    Ah, and I wouldn’t hold my breath for those Conan sequels, Aubrey. It barely made more in its opening weekend than the original, despite 30 years of inflation. It’s unlikely to earn back a third of its production budget from domestic box office. Overseas markets could save it, but I doubt it.

  10. Gentle Benj
    August 21, 2011

    Ah, and I wouldn’t hold my breath for those Conan sequels, Aubrey. It barely made more in its opening weekend than the original, despite 30 years of inflation. It’s unlikely to earn back a third of its production budget from domestic box office. Overseas markets could save it, but I doubt it.

  11. Melissa
    August 21, 2011

    Ugh, I’m so sick of this damn film already. It’s clear it will be this years’s Blind Side, fine whatever, thank God it has no shot in hell of winning Best Pic.

  12. Melissa
    August 21, 2011

    Ugh, I’m so sick of this damn film already. It’s clear it will be this years’s Blind Side, fine whatever, thank God it has no shot in hell of winning Best Pic.

  13. Charlie
    August 21, 2011

    “You is kind. You is smart. You is important.”

    Me is bummed.

  14. Charlie
    August 21, 2011

    “You is kind. You is smart. You is important.”

    Me is bummed.

  15. Jose P
    August 21, 2011

    Though I originally had no intention to see it I decided I needed to know what the talk was about. I found The Help to be a very good movie. Enjoyable is not the word I would use to describe it, but I can certainly appreciate it. Viola Davis gives an excellent performance. I can definitely see this movie getting nominated, it might not be a sure thing but it is one to watch out for. Hopefully Viola Davis gets nominated as well!

    As for Midnight in Paris being the first true contender, I agree there as well. I think that was a fantastic movie as well. There are other movies I would like to see contend- (Apes and Potter), but only the two this article mentions do I see being true contenders at the moment- especially with the new BP rule.

  16. Jose P
    August 21, 2011

    Though I originally had no intention to see it I decided I needed to know what the talk was about. I found The Help to be a very good movie. Enjoyable is not the word I would use to describe it, but I can certainly appreciate it. Viola Davis gives an excellent performance. I can definitely see this movie getting nominated, it might not be a sure thing but it is one to watch out for. Hopefully Viola Davis gets nominated as well!

    As for Midnight in Paris being the first true contender, I agree there as well. I think that was a fantastic movie as well. There are other movies I would like to see contend- (Apes and Potter), but only the two this article mentions do I see being true contenders at the moment- especially with the new BP rule.

  17. Jose P
    August 21, 2011

    *gosh I wish I could edit*
    It should read “a very good movie” not “an very good movie”. I changed what I said and forgot to check before posting.

  18. Jose P
    August 21, 2011

    *gosh I wish I could edit*
    It should read “a very good movie” not “an very good movie”. I changed what I said and forgot to check before posting.

  19. August 21, 2011

    [fixed, Jose.]

  20. August 21, 2011

    [fixed, Jose.]

  21. Jack Scribe
    August 21, 2011

    Remarkable ensemble cast. Although Viola Davis is rightfully heralded for her performance, I strongly endorse Octavia Spencer as a Oscar nominee hopeful for Best Supporting Actress in her portrayal of Minnie. Interesting networking in this movie. Did you notice that Nate Berkus is an executive producer?

  22. Jack Scribe
    August 21, 2011

    Remarkable ensemble cast. Although Viola Davis is rightfully heralded for her performance, I strongly endorse Octavia Spencer as a Oscar nominee hopeful for Best Supporting Actress in her portrayal of Minnie. Interesting networking in this movie. Did you notice that Nate Berkus is an executive producer?

  23. JP
    August 21, 2011

    It’s not gonna be a best picture nominee. Midnight in Paris and Harry Potter have a better shot. It doesn’t have the reviews. If it was the past system, it could possibly be The Blind Side, but now… don’t see it happening. I think other films will take its spot of feel-good film (The Decendents, Young Adult, We Bought You a Zoo…). No animated or blockbuster can overcome Potter, that’s why I still think It should be considered for getting the nomination.

    The Tree of Life is out. It’s just not that masterpiece. It’s a pretty irregular film that I don’t think people will vote for Best Picture.

  24. JP
    August 21, 2011

    It’s not gonna be a best picture nominee. Midnight in Paris and Harry Potter have a better shot. It doesn’t have the reviews. If it was the past system, it could possibly be The Blind Side, but now… don’t see it happening. I think other films will take its spot of feel-good film (The Decendents, Young Adult, We Bought You a Zoo…). No animated or blockbuster can overcome Potter, that’s why I still think It should be considered for getting the nomination.

    The Tree of Life is out. It’s just not that masterpiece. It’s a pretty irregular film that I don’t think people will vote for Best Picture.

  25. Gentle Benj
    August 21, 2011

    It is also important to remember that voting is done privately and anonymously. That keeps it fairly honest so that no one is necessarily going to vote for what they SHOULD vote for – not for the best film, but the film they liked the most, starring characters they cared about the most.

    Good! I want people voting for what they think is best, not feeling pressured into voting for something else because others have anointed it “best.” That is the point of voting!

    perhaps not playing to the blogerati but hitting right at the heart of white audiences

    Do we have data on the ethnic breakdown of THE HELP’s audience? I have seen gender and age data, but nothing about race. Anyone know?

  26. Gentle Benj
    August 21, 2011

    It is also important to remember that voting is done privately and anonymously. That keeps it fairly honest so that no one is necessarily going to vote for what they SHOULD vote for – not for the best film, but the film they liked the most, starring characters they cared about the most.

    Good! I want people voting for what they think is best, not feeling pressured into voting for something else because others have anointed it “best.” That is the point of voting!

    perhaps not playing to the blogerati but hitting right at the heart of white audiences

    Do we have data on the ethnic breakdown of THE HELP’s audience? I have seen gender and age data, but nothing about race. Anyone know?

  27. Sam
    August 21, 2011

    I don’t really understand what the whole controversy is about. I’ll come around to seeing The Help eventually, but based on what I have seen, it looks fairly middle brow. Viola Davis has the most pedigree, but I’m not sure a nomination is in her future.

    “The conversation then checked in with who hadn’t yet seen it. After it died down I brought up the subject of race. Needless to say it didn’t go over well.”
    - I would love to have been a fly on the wall for that conversation. Not knowing any of the details of the interaction, I will assume that “it didn’t go over well” because when the subject of race is brought up by the likes of someone who holds Sasha’s political opinions, it comes off as extremely pretentious. Kind of like this whole obsessing over race and The Help. It’s trite.

  28. Sam
    August 21, 2011

    I don’t really understand what the whole controversy is about. I’ll come around to seeing The Help eventually, but based on what I have seen, it looks fairly middle brow. Viola Davis has the most pedigree, but I’m not sure a nomination is in her future.

    “The conversation then checked in with who hadn’t yet seen it. After it died down I brought up the subject of race. Needless to say it didn’t go over well.”
    - I would love to have been a fly on the wall for that conversation. Not knowing any of the details of the interaction, I will assume that “it didn’t go over well” because when the subject of race is brought up by the likes of someone who holds Sasha’s political opinions, it comes off as extremely pretentious. Kind of like this whole obsessing over race and The Help. It’s trite.

  29. August 21, 2011

    This is a great movie! It’s odd that such a progressive film is being met with a vehement need to squash diversity in opinion. If The Help is allegedly racist, then why are we privy to the private lives and thoughts of African American characters. As a film blogger I will continue to voice my support for this film!

  30. August 21, 2011

    This is a great movie! It’s odd that such a progressive film is being met with a vehement need to squash diversity in opinion. If The Help is allegedly racist, then why are we privy to the private lives and thoughts of African American characters. As a film blogger I will continue to voice my support for this film!

  31. m1
    August 21, 2011

    Hold your horses, people. It’s only August, and we got ourselves four long months a comin’ (western dialect, is it working?)

    The Blind Side had a recognizable star and was released in the birth month of yours truly. The Help is a late summer release, which don’t always get nominated. I personally feel that the film will get acting and technical nods at the most.

    That being said, I haven’t seen the film yet.

  32. m1
    August 21, 2011

    Hold your horses, people. It’s only August, and we got ourselves four long months a comin’ (western dialect, is it working?)

    The Blind Side had a recognizable star and was released in the birth month of yours truly. The Help is a late summer release, which don’t always get nominated. I personally feel that the film will get acting and technical nods at the most.

    That being said, I haven’t seen the film yet.

  33. JP
    August 21, 2011

    Viola Davis should really contend as supporting. If she does, it’s her. Not only she is great (was amazing in Doubt also) but it looks like a very weak year in the Supporting Actress category. but If she goes lead, no shot at all. Its Glenn Close vs.Meryl Streep. No space for someone else.

  34. JP
    August 21, 2011

    Viola Davis should really contend as supporting. If she does, it’s her. Not only she is great (was amazing in Doubt also) but it looks like a very weak year in the Supporting Actress category. but If she goes lead, no shot at all. Its Glenn Close vs.Meryl Streep. No space for someone else.

  35. m1
    August 21, 2011

    “It’s just not that masterpiece.”

    That’s not a very good reason as to why The Tree of Life is out of the race.

  36. m1
    August 21, 2011

    “It’s just not that masterpiece.”

    That’s not a very good reason as to why The Tree of Life is out of the race.

  37. Alfredo
    August 21, 2011

    I am a person of color, both Black and Latino. I do not understand all the controversy surrounding the film. It is a film that lightly touches upon race relations in the south during a particular time period. Sasha it’s OK to like the film. No one will think you a racist for it. Many of my friends (black, white and latino alike) who have seen the film enjoyed it thoroughly and have recommended the film to others. Most of this “controversy” comes from a group that proclaims to speak for ALL people of color. No they do not. So please ladies and gentlemen, go see the film and do not feel bad for liking it.

  38. Alfredo
    August 21, 2011

    I am a person of color, both Black and Latino. I do not understand all the controversy surrounding the film. It is a film that lightly touches upon race relations in the south during a particular time period. Sasha it’s OK to like the film. No one will think you a racist for it. Many of my friends (black, white and latino alike) who have seen the film enjoyed it thoroughly and have recommended the film to others. Most of this “controversy” comes from a group that proclaims to speak for ALL people of color. No they do not. So please ladies and gentlemen, go see the film and do not feel bad for liking it.

  39. Bob Burns
    August 21, 2011

    Hispanic is Spanish speaking cultural heritage

    Latino is about latin cultural heritage, a broader term, which includes Brazilians ( (Portuguese), Haitians (French) and arguably, Quebecois (French) in addition to Hispanics.

  40. Bob Burns
    August 21, 2011

    Hispanic is Spanish speaking cultural heritage

    Latino is about latin cultural heritage, a broader term, which includes Brazilians ( (Portuguese), Haitians (French) and arguably, Quebecois (French) in addition to Hispanics.

  41. drake
    August 21, 2011

    it doesn’t have the reviews i don’t think… the reviews are average… average reviews in an august film usually doesn’t spell best pic nom. i’m not saying it can’t happen i’m just saying it would be a longshot.

  42. drake
    August 21, 2011

    it doesn’t have the reviews i don’t think… the reviews are average… average reviews in an august film usually doesn’t spell best pic nom. i’m not saying it can’t happen i’m just saying it would be a longshot.

  43. Scott
    August 21, 2011

    @ #1 Gentle Benji

    Except note that Harry Potter still has the highest BFCA score of the year. Not to mention highest RT and Metacritic scores for anything other then a doc or low profile film.

  44. Scott
    August 21, 2011

    @ #1 Gentle Benji

    Except note that Harry Potter still has the highest BFCA score of the year. Not to mention highest RT and Metacritic scores for anything other then a doc or low profile film.

  45. Chance
    August 21, 2011

    I saw the film Wednesday and was taken aback at the loads of white women in the audience. (I myself am a brown-skinned male.) It was like, wow the other side of the Tyler Perry/Michael Bay coins. I felt so out of place (to be fair, this is Anchorage, AK). A lady told me that she suspected the majority of the audience were book club members, and many of them were in tears once the film was over (kicking in with the very last “You is kind…”). I was amazed at the performances (and the Growing Pains girl – SURPRISE! She’s still working!), and Viola is a definite lead. I think it would serve her more to be nominated there and lose to Meryl/Glenn/suprise contender than to win supporting. Because I would love to see Octavia and Jessica get those nominations.

  46. Chance
    August 21, 2011

    I saw the film Wednesday and was taken aback at the loads of white women in the audience. (I myself am a brown-skinned male.) It was like, wow the other side of the Tyler Perry/Michael Bay coins. I felt so out of place (to be fair, this is Anchorage, AK). A lady told me that she suspected the majority of the audience were book club members, and many of them were in tears once the film was over (kicking in with the very last “You is kind…”). I was amazed at the performances (and the Growing Pains girl – SURPRISE! She’s still working!), and Viola is a definite lead. I think it would serve her more to be nominated there and lose to Meryl/Glenn/suprise contender than to win supporting. Because I would love to see Octavia and Jessica get those nominations.

  47. amy
    August 21, 2011

    @jp,tree of life will be nominated for best picture,director and more,i have not seen a better film get real by the way and didnot see this news posted here

    The International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI) has granted its Grand Prix for the year’s best film to Terrence Malick’s “The Tree of Life.” The film, which won the Palme DdOr at Cannes in May, will screen at the Zabaltegi-Pearls section of the San Sebastian Film Festival, where the award will be presented.

  48. amy
    August 21, 2011

    @jp,tree of life will be nominated for best picture,director and more,i have not seen a better film get real by the way and didnot see this news posted here

    The International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI) has granted its Grand Prix for the year’s best film to Terrence Malick’s “The Tree of Life.” The film, which won the Palme DdOr at Cannes in May, will screen at the Zabaltegi-Pearls section of the San Sebastian Film Festival, where the award will be presented.

  49. The ghost of easter
    August 21, 2011

    I personally hope that it doesn’t get a Best Picture-nod… Not because of the race-thing, but because it feels like the kind of picture that would’ve been daring in the 1950′s/1960′s… To me it just feels dated… If it were to get nominated, It would (to me) as if the Academy was taking some major steps back…

    I however loved Midnight in Paris, and wouldn’t object if it got in…

  50. The ghost of easter
    August 21, 2011

    I personally hope that it doesn’t get a Best Picture-nod… Not because of the race-thing, but because it feels like the kind of picture that would’ve been daring in the 1950′s/1960′s… To me it just feels dated… If it were to get nominated, It would (to me) as if the Academy was taking some major steps back…

    I however loved Midnight in Paris, and wouldn’t object if it got in…

  51. drake
    August 21, 2011

    it has a 62 on metacritic… again, i’m not saying that’s a death death sentence (blind side had a 53) i’m just its a steep hill to climb…. i’m not a big “message movie” guy so i’ll be rooting for tree of life and others that are more artistically ambitious.

  52. drake
    August 21, 2011

    it has a 62 on metacritic… again, i’m not saying that’s a death death sentence (blind side had a 53) i’m just its a steep hill to climb…. i’m not a big “message movie” guy so i’ll be rooting for tree of life and others that are more artistically ambitious.

  53. James Francis McAnderson
    August 21, 2011

    Driving Miss Daisy is a great movie and no where near The Help. If The Help gets nominated for Best Picture I will eat my hair.

  54. James Francis McAnderson
    August 21, 2011

    Driving Miss Daisy is a great movie and no where near The Help. If The Help gets nominated for Best Picture I will eat my hair.

  55. chris
    August 21, 2011

    Potter is not getting nominated my friends. It’s lacking something that the big 2 blockbuster nominees from last year (TS3 and Inception) had and that’s a passion from the industry. Take away it’s opening weekend and what has it done? There’s just nothing overly special about it. It may be a different story if the previous seven films had more nominations combined than say Fellowship of the Ring (which they don’t). At this point i’m betting it even loses visual effects and sound to Rise of the Planet of the Apes. These movies were never made to win Oscars but now that it’s the last one people want to pull the “well Return of the King swept”. Deathly hallows Part 2 isn’t even on the same planet as RotK (and that one in my opinion is the weak link of the trilogy).

    I haven’t seen The Help yet but plan to soon. It’s popularity alone will carry it to a nomination. Midnight in Paris is a lock ( and probably Woody Allen for Directot too) for a nomination. The Tree of Life is extremely ambitious and well done but way too divisive to get nommed..

  56. chris
    August 21, 2011

    Potter is not getting nominated my friends. It’s lacking something that the big 2 blockbuster nominees from last year (TS3 and Inception) had and that’s a passion from the industry. Take away it’s opening weekend and what has it done? There’s just nothing overly special about it. It may be a different story if the previous seven films had more nominations combined than say Fellowship of the Ring (which they don’t). At this point i’m betting it even loses visual effects and sound to Rise of the Planet of the Apes. These movies were never made to win Oscars but now that it’s the last one people want to pull the “well Return of the King swept”. Deathly hallows Part 2 isn’t even on the same planet as RotK (and that one in my opinion is the weak link of the trilogy).

    I haven’t seen The Help yet but plan to soon. It’s popularity alone will carry it to a nomination. Midnight in Paris is a lock ( and probably Woody Allen for Directot too) for a nomination. The Tree of Life is extremely ambitious and well done but way too divisive to get nommed..

  57. Jose P
    August 21, 2011

    @Ryan- thanks for the fix.

    Octavia Spencer was terrific as Minnie, I agree, a nomination for her would not disappoint me in the least- it’s just that Viola Davis was just THAT much better, but I would also argue that Davis is lead and Spencer supporting. I really dislike when actors and actresses when for the wrong category. Though all the casting was great, these two are the only two I would like to see nominated from this movie.

    Yes Jessica Chastain was terrific, but I don’t think she is worthy of a nomination. I must be missing something in her performance that others are seeing. Though I don’t think she has a shot at a nomination, I gotta say- I loved Emma Stone in this movie too.

  58. Jose P
    August 21, 2011

    @Ryan- thanks for the fix.

    Octavia Spencer was terrific as Minnie, I agree, a nomination for her would not disappoint me in the least- it’s just that Viola Davis was just THAT much better, but I would also argue that Davis is lead and Spencer supporting. I really dislike when actors and actresses when for the wrong category. Though all the casting was great, these two are the only two I would like to see nominated from this movie.

    Yes Jessica Chastain was terrific, but I don’t think she is worthy of a nomination. I must be missing something in her performance that others are seeing. Though I don’t think she has a shot at a nomination, I gotta say- I loved Emma Stone in this movie too.

  59. Melissa
    August 21, 2011

    Driving Miss Daisy is a good movie? As Spike Lee said “Fuck Driving Miss Daisy!” As a matter of fact, fuck Driving Miss Daisy, The Blind Side, The Help, Freedom Writers, Mississippi Burning, Dangerous Minds, and the like………………………….

  60. Melissa
    August 21, 2011

    Driving Miss Daisy is a good movie? As Spike Lee said “Fuck Driving Miss Daisy!” As a matter of fact, fuck Driving Miss Daisy, The Blind Side, The Help, Freedom Writers, Mississippi Burning, Dangerous Minds, and the like………………………….

  61. NIc V
    August 21, 2011

    And since the emotional response to “The Help” is giving you a forum to push your own agenda Sasha will you accord it the same kind of negative commentary you accorded “The Kings Speech” when it becomes clear that the film could very well be a true contender? Or will you back slide and hold it and it’s director to the same ridicule you held up Hooper and “The Kings Speech’ last year because it is being pushed into that arena by the public’s response to it? Damn “whitey” for liking a film about the black experience. Damn that “whitey”. You just can’t trust “whitey” can ya Sasha? Damn “whitey” for even thinking about helping anyone outside of their own race and then having that encounter memorialized in film. Damn “whitey” for going to see a film about the black experience. Ya know what Sasha, damn “whitey” for helping make Denzel, Halle, Angela, Chris, Taye, Loretta, Tyler, Will, Jada, Latifah, Samuel, Lawrence, as popular as most “whitey’s” that work in film. Ya know “whitey” shoulda stopped when they embraced Motown. Hell we couldn’t dance but we sure loved the music. “Whitey” just never learns does he?

  62. NIc V
    August 21, 2011

    And since the emotional response to “The Help” is giving you a forum to push your own agenda Sasha will you accord it the same kind of negative commentary you accorded “The Kings Speech” when it becomes clear that the film could very well be a true contender? Or will you back slide and hold it and it’s director to the same ridicule you held up Hooper and “The Kings Speech’ last year because it is being pushed into that arena by the public’s response to it? Damn “whitey” for liking a film about the black experience. Damn that “whitey”. You just can’t trust “whitey” can ya Sasha? Damn “whitey” for even thinking about helping anyone outside of their own race and then having that encounter memorialized in film. Damn “whitey” for going to see a film about the black experience. Ya know what Sasha, damn “whitey” for helping make Denzel, Halle, Angela, Chris, Taye, Loretta, Tyler, Will, Jada, Latifah, Samuel, Lawrence, as popular as most “whitey’s” that work in film. Ya know “whitey” shoulda stopped when they embraced Motown. Hell we couldn’t dance but we sure loved the music. “Whitey” just never learns does he?

  63. Juan
    August 21, 2011

    Sasha, the terms Hispanic or Latino/a are not either really correct to use, but they have become staples of our society’s want to make differences among peoples. Both terms refer to broad spectrums of people based off either their Hispanic or Latino heritage. But what do these exactly mean? The term Hispanic comes from the word Hispania in ancient Rome which described the Iberian Peninsula. This definition should then include peoples from Portugal, Spain, and Andorra. It however has morphed to include not only people from those countries but peoples from the countries they colonized. Like the United States these countries are very diverse with people who are “white”, “black”, “Asian”, “indigenous” and any mixture thereof. Also, many of these peoples may have no actual Spanish heritage and may be descendants from African, Asian, or other European immigrants. Also, these peoples may not always have a Spanish or Portuguese surname. This makes the term Hispanic hard to describe any one ethnic or racial group, but instead a hodgepodge of peoples that have been touched by Spanish or Portuguese societies or history. In the US we can see this group being played out with people as diverse as Cameron Diaz and Martin Sheen to Zoe Saldana and Rosario Dawson.

    Likewise, the term Latino is very misleading but becoming more common in usage. Many people think Brazilians and Portuguese are not covered under the term Hispanic and thus Latino has become more popular. The term “Latino” itself is translated directly to the word Latin in English. If we take this at face value, the French, Spanish, Italians, Portuguese, Romanians, and their descendents all are Latino. However, this is not the usage of the term. The term, unlike Hispanic, has become more widely used in Europe to refer to those people from Latin America. Even that is controversial because debate exists over to whether countries like Haiti or even Quebec qualify as Latin America because of their French and Latin heritage. Regardless of who qualifies as being Latino, the same mixture of peoples still applies. Unlike terms such as White American or black American, a Latino or Hispanic American can be White or Black as well, or Asian or a “Native American”. The terms are not really good usage, but the only thing being used right now to refer to the members of our society from Latin America and the long term immigrant groups from the Iberian Peninsula.

  64. Juan
    August 21, 2011

    Sasha, the terms Hispanic or Latino/a are not either really correct to use, but they have become staples of our society’s want to make differences among peoples. Both terms refer to broad spectrums of people based off either their Hispanic or Latino heritage. But what do these exactly mean? The term Hispanic comes from the word Hispania in ancient Rome which described the Iberian Peninsula. This definition should then include peoples from Portugal, Spain, and Andorra. It however has morphed to include not only people from those countries but peoples from the countries they colonized. Like the United States these countries are very diverse with people who are “white”, “black”, “Asian”, “indigenous” and any mixture thereof. Also, many of these peoples may have no actual Spanish heritage and may be descendants from African, Asian, or other European immigrants. Also, these peoples may not always have a Spanish or Portuguese surname. This makes the term Hispanic hard to describe any one ethnic or racial group, but instead a hodgepodge of peoples that have been touched by Spanish or Portuguese societies or history. In the US we can see this group being played out with people as diverse as Cameron Diaz and Martin Sheen to Zoe Saldana and Rosario Dawson.

    Likewise, the term Latino is very misleading but becoming more common in usage. Many people think Brazilians and Portuguese are not covered under the term Hispanic and thus Latino has become more popular. The term “Latino” itself is translated directly to the word Latin in English. If we take this at face value, the French, Spanish, Italians, Portuguese, Romanians, and their descendents all are Latino. However, this is not the usage of the term. The term, unlike Hispanic, has become more widely used in Europe to refer to those people from Latin America. Even that is controversial because debate exists over to whether countries like Haiti or even Quebec qualify as Latin America because of their French and Latin heritage. Regardless of who qualifies as being Latino, the same mixture of peoples still applies. Unlike terms such as White American or black American, a Latino or Hispanic American can be White or Black as well, or Asian or a “Native American”. The terms are not really good usage, but the only thing being used right now to refer to the members of our society from Latin America and the long term immigrant groups from the Iberian Peninsula.

  65. eurocheese
    August 21, 2011

    Really? We’re supposed to count out The Tree of Life? Ugh.

  66. eurocheese
    August 21, 2011

    Really? We’re supposed to count out The Tree of Life? Ugh.

  67. August 21, 2011

    Don’t leave “The Tree of Life” out of this race, this Oscar buzz blogging is propoganda. Box-office receips do well help Oscar chances, however it’s not what mattters in the end. Remember “City of God”? I guaranteee you that the “The Tree of LIfe” will have a shot at earning a Best Picture nomination and a Best Director nomination, even Brad Pitt has a shot at earning a Best Actor nomination at the end of the year. He is going to be up against Ryan Gosling (The Ides of March), Leonardo DiCaprio (J. Edgar), George Clooney (The Descendents), and Michael Fassbender (A Dangerous Method).

    Please do not say that “The Tree of Life” is out of the race, I saw “The Help” and it doesn’t match up the vision, scope, or ideas that are on display in “Tree of LIfe”. I can see “The Help” earning some supporting noms and “Midnight in Paris” will earn a Best Original Screenplay nomination.

  68. August 21, 2011

    Don’t leave “The Tree of Life” out of this race, this Oscar buzz blogging is propoganda. Box-office receips do well help Oscar chances, however it’s not what mattters in the end. Remember “City of God”? I guaranteee you that the “The Tree of LIfe” will have a shot at earning a Best Picture nomination and a Best Director nomination, even Brad Pitt has a shot at earning a Best Actor nomination at the end of the year. He is going to be up against Ryan Gosling (The Ides of March), Leonardo DiCaprio (J. Edgar), George Clooney (The Descendents), and Michael Fassbender (A Dangerous Method).

    Please do not say that “The Tree of Life” is out of the race, I saw “The Help” and it doesn’t match up the vision, scope, or ideas that are on display in “Tree of LIfe”. I can see “The Help” earning some supporting noms and “Midnight in Paris” will earn a Best Original Screenplay nomination.

  69. thespirithunter
    August 21, 2011

    Okay people,

    As a 25 year Oscar watching veteran (who has done extensive research on the years I’ve missed), I have to say, I’m a little surprised at the vitriolic outrage/naive assumption that The Help has no chance in the Best Picture Race. Even David Poland has declared outright that the film has no chance to win BP (he does give it a small chance at a nomination). Most of the (considerably younger/liberal skewing) bloggers who are commenting are trying to find any precedent to put their mind at ease as to why they are right and the rest of America are wrong (sounds like a lot of groups in this country right now, doesn’t it?)

    The “critical consensus” argument is the most often used excuse, and it is the most laughable. I’m sorry, but when did Metacritic or Rottentomatoes ever have a say in any Oscar race? Even the bloggers who rightfully look up the facts (Blind Side at 53%) are shooting themselves in the foot with that excuse.

    With the right campaign (Chocolat, Il Postino, How Green Was My Valley, Driving Miss Daisy, Children Of A Lesser God, et al), any film with the public behind it in the way The Help is already exhibiting, has got a great chance. The only thing in The Help’s way at this time is its early release date, but tell that to Annie Hall, The Silence Of The Lambs, Gladiator, and Braveheart.

    Whether you like the politics or not, conservative middle America is getting behind this film in droves. The heart is how Oscar voters vote, not by critical consensus and not by release date (although the heart can often forget what it liked between August and February)

    I have not seen the film, and don’t know if I’m going to, but I’ve watched enough Oscar races to see when a prize winner is taking the field before the starting gate opens. Cool the jets, folks. See the film for what it is. The first frontrunner of the season. Time will tell if anything else comes along to knock it off its place, whether it deserves to be there or not (see King’s Speech).

  70. thespirithunter
    August 21, 2011

    Okay people,

    As a 25 year Oscar watching veteran (who has done extensive research on the years I’ve missed), I have to say, I’m a little surprised at the vitriolic outrage/naive assumption that The Help has no chance in the Best Picture Race. Even David Poland has declared outright that the film has no chance to win BP (he does give it a small chance at a nomination). Most of the (considerably younger/liberal skewing) bloggers who are commenting are trying to find any precedent to put their mind at ease as to why they are right and the rest of America are wrong (sounds like a lot of groups in this country right now, doesn’t it?)

    The “critical consensus” argument is the most often used excuse, and it is the most laughable. I’m sorry, but when did Metacritic or Rottentomatoes ever have a say in any Oscar race? Even the bloggers who rightfully look up the facts (Blind Side at 53%) are shooting themselves in the foot with that excuse.

    With the right campaign (Chocolat, Il Postino, How Green Was My Valley, Driving Miss Daisy, Children Of A Lesser God, et al), any film with the public behind it in the way The Help is already exhibiting, has got a great chance. The only thing in The Help’s way at this time is its early release date, but tell that to Annie Hall, The Silence Of The Lambs, Gladiator, and Braveheart.

    Whether you like the politics or not, conservative middle America is getting behind this film in droves. The heart is how Oscar voters vote, not by critical consensus and not by release date (although the heart can often forget what it liked between August and February)

    I have not seen the film, and don’t know if I’m going to, but I’ve watched enough Oscar races to see when a prize winner is taking the field before the starting gate opens. Cool the jets, folks. See the film for what it is. The first frontrunner of the season. Time will tell if anything else comes along to knock it off its place, whether it deserves to be there or not (see King’s Speech).

  71. Scott
    August 21, 2011

    @ Chris

    “Deathly hallows Part 2 isn’t even on the same planet as RotK”

    You’re right, it’s above and beyond it. If I’m not mistaken RotK didn’t pull a perfect 100% from Top Critics did it? No, I didn’t think so. Oh, and Potter eclipsed Rotk for box office as well.

  72. Scott
    August 21, 2011

    @ Chris

    “Deathly hallows Part 2 isn’t even on the same planet as RotK”

    You’re right, it’s above and beyond it. If I’m not mistaken RotK didn’t pull a perfect 100% from Top Critics did it? No, I didn’t think so. Oh, and Potter eclipsed Rotk for box office as well.

  73. August 21, 2011

    The best review of this is from Boxoffice Weekly’s Sara Vizcarrondo – Terry McMillan (How Stella Got Her Groove Back ) said this about it: “Someone finally sees the reality of it all”

  74. August 21, 2011

    The best review of this is from Boxoffice Weekly’s Sara Vizcarrondo – Terry McMillan (How Stella Got Her Groove Back ) said this about it: “Someone finally sees the reality of it all”

  75. August 22, 2011

    NIc V, congratulations for submitting the first truly lunatic comment of Oscar season 2011.

    Here’s Sasha:

    You can’t tell people who responded emotionally to a film like this that they shouldn’t like it because it isn’t politically correct, or that it’s offensive to African Americans and that any response to that is an endorsement of said repression and the perpetuating of the Jim Crow racism that has and continues to oppress multitudes. I’m not even saying I disagree. But I am acknowledging the emotional power of the film, just as I’m now acknowledging that a movie that does this well at the box office, has this kind of emotional heat, plays to women the way it does, has a very very good chance at winding up in the number 1 spot on AMPAS ballots…. When you have a screening at the White House by Michelle Obama and a very public endorsement by Ms. Oprah Winfrey herself, you can pretty much forget any sort of pubic shaming of the film; it has now been deemed perfect acceptable by two of the country’s strongest and most powerful black women.

    And here’s NIc V’s paranoid paraphrasing of Sasha, cooking up a bizzaro universe mangling of Sasha’s words, or hearing the voice of Sasha’s Evil Twin in his head:

    Damn “whitey” for liking a film about the black experience. Damn that “whitey”. You just can’t trust “whitey” can ya Sasha? Damn “whitey” for even thinking about helping anyone outside of their own race and then having that encounter memorialized in film. Damn “whitey” for going to see a film about the black experience. Ya know what Sasha, damn “whitey” for helping make Denzel, Halle, Angela, Chris, Taye, Loretta, Tyler, Will, Jada, Latifah, Samuel, Lawrence, as popular as most “whitey’s” that work in film. Ya know “whitey” shoulda stopped when they embraced Motown. Hell we couldn’t dance but we sure loved the music. “Whitey” just never learns does he?

    How in the hell you ever got all those “damn whitey” nightmares tormenting you from Sasha’s appraisal of the undeniable fondness people are feeling for The Help is truly delusional, NIc V. Can’t wait for your next spectacular meltdown.

  76. August 22, 2011

    NIc V, congratulations for submitting the first truly lunatic comment of Oscar season 2011.

    Here’s Sasha:

    You can’t tell people who responded emotionally to a film like this that they shouldn’t like it because it isn’t politically correct, or that it’s offensive to African Americans and that any response to that is an endorsement of said repression and the perpetuating of the Jim Crow racism that has and continues to oppress multitudes. I’m not even saying I disagree. But I am acknowledging the emotional power of the film, just as I’m now acknowledging that a movie that does this well at the box office, has this kind of emotional heat, plays to women the way it does, has a very very good chance at winding up in the number 1 spot on AMPAS ballots…. When you have a screening at the White House by Michelle Obama and a very public endorsement by Ms. Oprah Winfrey herself, you can pretty much forget any sort of pubic shaming of the film; it has now been deemed perfect acceptable by two of the country’s strongest and most powerful black women.

    And here’s NIc V’s paranoid paraphrasing of Sasha, cooking up a bizzaro universe mangling of Sasha’s words, or hearing the voice of Sasha’s Evil Twin in his head:

    Damn “whitey” for liking a film about the black experience. Damn that “whitey”. You just can’t trust “whitey” can ya Sasha? Damn “whitey” for even thinking about helping anyone outside of their own race and then having that encounter memorialized in film. Damn “whitey” for going to see a film about the black experience. Ya know what Sasha, damn “whitey” for helping make Denzel, Halle, Angela, Chris, Taye, Loretta, Tyler, Will, Jada, Latifah, Samuel, Lawrence, as popular as most “whitey’s” that work in film. Ya know “whitey” shoulda stopped when they embraced Motown. Hell we couldn’t dance but we sure loved the music. “Whitey” just never learns does he?

    How in the hell you ever got all those “damn whitey” nightmares tormenting you from Sasha’s appraisal of the undeniable fondness people are feeling for The Help is truly delusional, NIc V. Can’t wait for your next spectacular meltdown.

  77. August 22, 2011

    Damn “whitey” for even thinking about helping anyone outside of their own race and then having that encounter memorialized in film.

    Just to be clear: You can’t “memorialize” something that never occurred. The Help is not a memory of a historical event. It’s not even a personal anecdote of any real situation. It’s a fabricated tale of a white woman “helping someone outside her own race” that never ever happened.

    I can create another story about a black maid who plays a filthy prank with a chocolate pie that won’t end up so funny and cute for that black maid. And my tragic tale of the subsequent lynching would be a lot more likely to have happened in the real Mississippi of 1963.

    ” thinking about helping anyone outside of their own race ” is exactly what The Help is. It’s an author “thinking about helping” someone — without actually doing it.

    “oh! Wouldn’t it have been nice if THIS had happened!”

    What a sweet thought. How grand if that day-dreamy thought of imaginary history had really changed the life of any actual black person.

    When in fact, the only real parallel between fiction and reality is the part about the perky white writer who extracts what she wants to use about the black maid’s sad situation so that the white author can become rich and famous.

  78. August 22, 2011

    Damn “whitey” for even thinking about helping anyone outside of their own race and then having that encounter memorialized in film.

    Just to be clear: You can’t “memorialize” something that never occurred. The Help is not a memory of a historical event. It’s not even a personal anecdote of any real situation. It’s a fabricated tale of a white woman “helping someone outside her own race” that never ever happened.

    I can create another story about a black maid who plays a filthy prank with a chocolate pie that won’t end up so funny and cute for that black maid. And my tragic tale of the subsequent lynching would be a lot more likely to have happened in the real Mississippi of 1963.

    ” thinking about helping anyone outside of their own race ” is exactly what The Help is. It’s an author “thinking about helping” someone — without actually doing it.

    “oh! Wouldn’t it have been nice if THIS had happened!”

    What a sweet thought. How grand if that day-dreamy thought of imaginary history had really changed the life of any actual black person.

    When in fact, the only real parallel between fiction and reality is the part about the perky white writer who extracts what she wants to use about the black maid’s sad situation so that the white author can become rich and famous.

  79. August 22, 2011

    [None of the issues I have with The Help's authenticity matter a damn to the final emotional effect the movie might have. None of the controversy detracts in any way from the wonderful work Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer have done with the material they were handed. In fact, I admire them all the more for taking the unlikely caricatures and turning them into believably vibrant human beings on screen. The movie will work its indisputable magic on millions of people. The Oscars are meant to honor the movie. History is another thing altogether. Historical accuracy is irrelevant to movie awards. But I can't see why some people like NIc V get so riled up when it's pointed out that others who know better would like to remind us that it's only a nicely crafted fairy tale.]

    The best review of this is from Boxoffice Weekly’s Sara Vizcarrondo

    Walter Neff, thanks for bringing that in. I’d missed seeing it. Here’s the link.

    k, I’ll hush up and behave now! Seriously, I wish all the luck in the world to Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer. Would be thrilling if they could both go home with Oscars for Lead Actress and Supporting.

  80. August 22, 2011

    [None of the issues I have with The Help's authenticity matter a damn to the final emotional effect the movie might have. None of the controversy detracts in any way from the wonderful work Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer have done with the material they were handed. In fact, I admire them all the more for taking the unlikely caricatures and turning them into believably vibrant human beings on screen. The movie will work its indisputable magic on millions of people. The Oscars are meant to honor the movie. History is another thing altogether. Historical accuracy is irrelevant to movie awards. But I can't see why some people like NIc V get so riled up when it's pointed out that others who know better would like to remind us that it's only a nicely crafted fairy tale.]

    The best review of this is from Boxoffice Weekly’s Sara Vizcarrondo

    Walter Neff, thanks for bringing that in. I’d missed seeing it. Here’s the link.

    k, I’ll hush up and behave now! Seriously, I wish all the luck in the world to Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer. Would be thrilling if they could both go home with Oscars for Lead Actress and Supporting.

  81. Mark
    August 22, 2011

    I think we can all agree that the Oscars are ridiculous and that a crummy film usually ends up winning. So The Help has every chance of being nominated and actually winning.

  82. Mark
    August 22, 2011

    I think we can all agree that the Oscars are ridiculous and that a crummy film usually ends up winning. So The Help has every chance of being nominated and actually winning.

  83. Parrret
    August 22, 2011

    Sasha, do you think Viola should be campaigned in leading or in supporting? It’s our big summer question.

  84. Parrret
    August 22, 2011

    Sasha, do you think Viola should be campaigned in leading or in supporting? It’s our big summer question.

  85. phantom
    August 22, 2011

    I saw the film a few days ago, and though I firmly believe if the film had ONE lead, it was be Viola Davis, BUT I also agree that she might get ignored in the lead race because of category confusion. Unfortunately it doesn’t work both ways : a supposed lead contender could easily become a frontrunner in the supporting race (Zeta, Connelly etc.), but a role that could be considered supporting, as well, rarely gets lead-attention.

    I think Davis could win the supporting race and could miss even the nomination in the lead category. I wrote about this here : http://awardscorner.blogspot.com/2011/08/could-help-break-into-best-picture-race.html

  86. phantom
    August 22, 2011

    I saw the film a few days ago, and though I firmly believe if the film had ONE lead, it was be Viola Davis, BUT I also agree that she might get ignored in the lead race because of category confusion. Unfortunately it doesn’t work both ways : a supposed lead contender could easily become a frontrunner in the supporting race (Zeta, Connelly etc.), but a role that could be considered supporting, as well, rarely gets lead-attention.

    I think Davis could win the supporting race and could miss even the nomination in the lead category. I wrote about this here : http://awardscorner.blogspot.com/2011/08/could-help-break-into-best-picture-race.html

  87. Duck Soup
    August 22, 2011

    Ugh. Have we not learned anything from last year when you deemed Secretariat as the Blind Side of ’10, Sasha? It’s boring looking, it’s early, and it will be forgotten, box office be damned.

  88. Duck Soup
    August 22, 2011

    Ugh. Have we not learned anything from last year when you deemed Secretariat as the Blind Side of ’10, Sasha? It’s boring looking, it’s early, and it will be forgotten, box office be damned.

  89. August 22, 2011

    Parret, Let’s ask ourselves why there’s even a question about whether the movie that’s ostensibly about the struggle of black women should make those black women take a back seat to the white character who’s only supposed to be telling their story.

    What does that say about the structure of the movie? What does it say about the AMPAS voters that they would be ‘confused’ about the importance of her role? What does it say about the Oscar race in general? What does it say about racial equality in the year 2011?

  90. August 22, 2011

    Parret, Let’s ask ourselves why there’s even a question about whether the movie that’s ostensibly about the struggle of black women should make those black women take a back seat to the white character who’s only supposed to be telling their story.

    What does that say about the structure of the movie? What does it say about the AMPAS voters that they would be ‘confused’ about the importance of her role? What does it say about the Oscar race in general? What does it say about racial equality in the year 2011?

  91. NIc V
    August 22, 2011

    I think Sasha probably knows exactly why I used the term “whitey”. She used the term.

  92. NIc V
    August 22, 2011

    I think Sasha probably knows exactly why I used the term “whitey”. She used the term.

  93. John
    August 22, 2011

    Here’s my quick 2 cents:

    I loved the film. Everyone I know who’s seen it has loved it. That includes one of my 50-something co-workers who is black. She actually feels that it’s the younger generation of black people who won’t like/care for what they see.

    And the comparisons to ‘The Blind Side’? To me, ‘The Help’ is simply a better written, better acted, better looking movie.

    The reviews, while not glowing, are better than ‘The Blind Side’. ‘The Help’ will wind up being one of the ‘stories’ of the season. It’s making big $$. And though the critics awards won’t be putting it anywhere near their BP lists … I’m sure it will be popping up everywhere with combinations of acting noms and Ensemble noms to keep the buzz going, so to speak.

    A BP nom? I don’t think it’s a lock. But it sure is possible.

  94. John
    August 22, 2011

    Here’s my quick 2 cents:

    I loved the film. Everyone I know who’s seen it has loved it. That includes one of my 50-something co-workers who is black. She actually feels that it’s the younger generation of black people who won’t like/care for what they see.

    And the comparisons to ‘The Blind Side’? To me, ‘The Help’ is simply a better written, better acted, better looking movie.

    The reviews, while not glowing, are better than ‘The Blind Side’. ‘The Help’ will wind up being one of the ‘stories’ of the season. It’s making big $$. And though the critics awards won’t be putting it anywhere near their BP lists … I’m sure it will be popping up everywhere with combinations of acting noms and Ensemble noms to keep the buzz going, so to speak.

    A BP nom? I don’t think it’s a lock. But it sure is possible.

  95. Joey
    August 22, 2011

    The Help is so much better than The Blind Side. You have to admit that the film has an incredibly strong ensemble. One of the best examples of acting of 2011.

  96. Joey
    August 22, 2011

    The Help is so much better than The Blind Side. You have to admit that the film has an incredibly strong ensemble. One of the best examples of acting of 2011.

  97. drake
    August 22, 2011

    Tree of Life definitley has a chance still…. i’ve written this before on this site… but the new rule change- which states that you have to have a minimum of 5% first place votes to get a BP nom really favors tree of life and critical darlings like it… think of 2003 when “eternal sunshine” dominated the top slot on the critics top 10 lists but missed a BP nom… or think of 2005 when “history of violence” did the same…. Tree of life is a critical darling and will get a ton of #1 votes at the end of the year. i believe it will get the 5% needed. It is extremely artisically ambivious (perhaps too ambitious for the academy) and it is divisive (look at the ciritics reviews compared to the user reviews on Metactic (critics have it at 85 and users have it at 6.2). I think if it were the old system (5 noms) or 10 nom system (used last year) i don’t believe TOL would get a nom.

    This is why i’m very happy with the new system. I think it will hurt films like 127 Hours (films that normally would fall into the 5-10 slots but weren’t the “best film” of practically anyone.

    My guess (which is just a guess) is that this new 5% rule will be the reason TOL will get the nom and not “the help”. Again, this is august and this whole theory i have could get crushed and thrown away in the next few months.

  98. drake
    August 22, 2011

    Tree of Life definitley has a chance still…. i’ve written this before on this site… but the new rule change- which states that you have to have a minimum of 5% first place votes to get a BP nom really favors tree of life and critical darlings like it… think of 2003 when “eternal sunshine” dominated the top slot on the critics top 10 lists but missed a BP nom… or think of 2005 when “history of violence” did the same…. Tree of life is a critical darling and will get a ton of #1 votes at the end of the year. i believe it will get the 5% needed. It is extremely artisically ambivious (perhaps too ambitious for the academy) and it is divisive (look at the ciritics reviews compared to the user reviews on Metactic (critics have it at 85 and users have it at 6.2). I think if it were the old system (5 noms) or 10 nom system (used last year) i don’t believe TOL would get a nom.

    This is why i’m very happy with the new system. I think it will hurt films like 127 Hours (films that normally would fall into the 5-10 slots but weren’t the “best film” of practically anyone.

    My guess (which is just a guess) is that this new 5% rule will be the reason TOL will get the nom and not “the help”. Again, this is august and this whole theory i have could get crushed and thrown away in the next few months.

  99. chris
    August 22, 2011

    @Scott

    My biggest point in the post was that the previous LotR films had a combined 17 Oscar nominatons before King was even released/ The previous 7 Potter films have a combined 9 nominarions. I would argue that Goblet of Fire and Prisoner of Azkaban are better films than Deathly Hallows 2. In a year where there is no guarantee there will be 10 nominees reviews don’t matter nearly as much as they would. If reviews mattered that much to the Academy then The Reader and Frost/Nixon would never have gotten nommed and I think we all know hich two films would have taken their places. As far as Box Office goes well in that same vein we should then assume that The Dark Knight Rises will WIN Best Picture because it’s likely to have (a) the reviews and (b) a $200 million opening weekend. ‘m not trying to put down anyone who loves Deathly Hallows part 2 but i’ve seen no evidence that the Academy is ready to nominate it for Best Picture. Return of the King’s question was what else it would end up winning besides Picture and Director.

  100. chris
    August 22, 2011

    @Scott

    My biggest point in the post was that the previous LotR films had a combined 17 Oscar nominatons before King was even released/ The previous 7 Potter films have a combined 9 nominarions. I would argue that Goblet of Fire and Prisoner of Azkaban are better films than Deathly Hallows 2. In a year where there is no guarantee there will be 10 nominees reviews don’t matter nearly as much as they would. If reviews mattered that much to the Academy then The Reader and Frost/Nixon would never have gotten nommed and I think we all know hich two films would have taken their places. As far as Box Office goes well in that same vein we should then assume that The Dark Knight Rises will WIN Best Picture because it’s likely to have (a) the reviews and (b) a $200 million opening weekend. ‘m not trying to put down anyone who loves Deathly Hallows part 2 but i’ve seen no evidence that the Academy is ready to nominate it for Best Picture. Return of the King’s question was what else it would end up winning besides Picture and Director.

  101. TheGhostOfEaster
    August 22, 2011

    Just out of curiousity, It seems that Our Idiot Brother is getting some early reviews… Any chance that it and Paul Rudd might get nominated for some Golden Globes in the musical/comedy-categorie later this year?

  102. TheGhostOfEaster
    August 22, 2011

    Just out of curiousity, It seems that Our Idiot Brother is getting some early reviews… Any chance that it and Paul Rudd might get nominated for some Golden Globes in the musical/comedy-categorie later this year?

  103. Princess of Peace
    August 22, 2011

    I liked The Help and loved Midnight in Paris (but not as much as Vicky Cristina Barcelona). However, Tree of Life is superior to both films. So far, it is the best film of the year. I hope that come awards season it isn’t ignored.

  104. Princess of Peace
    August 22, 2011

    I liked The Help and loved Midnight in Paris (but not as much as Vicky Cristina Barcelona). However, Tree of Life is superior to both films. So far, it is the best film of the year. I hope that come awards season it isn’t ignored.

  105. NIc V
    August 22, 2011

    And as for “memoralizing” it seems to me that during this thread there was a great deal of comparison between “The Help” and “The Blind Side”. “The Blind Side” is certainly memoralizing. I just find any kind of rhetoric regarding “racism” regardless of the originator or it’s focal point unacceptable. You don’t like racism then don’t use racial terms to point fingers at someone else. Use your intelligence. If you think for a moment that the term “whitey” is an intellectual and intelligent response to the ridiculous rants about racism and “The Help” then in my opinion you are just perpetuating that issue.

  106. NIc V
    August 22, 2011

    And as for “memoralizing” it seems to me that during this thread there was a great deal of comparison between “The Help” and “The Blind Side”. “The Blind Side” is certainly memoralizing. I just find any kind of rhetoric regarding “racism” regardless of the originator or it’s focal point unacceptable. You don’t like racism then don’t use racial terms to point fingers at someone else. Use your intelligence. If you think for a moment that the term “whitey” is an intellectual and intelligent response to the ridiculous rants about racism and “The Help” then in my opinion you are just perpetuating that issue.

  107. NIc V
    August 22, 2011

    And now I’ll behave and not say another word about it.

  108. NIc V
    August 22, 2011

    And now I’ll behave and not say another word about it.

  109. August 22, 2011

    If you think for a moment that the term “whitey” is an intellectual and intelligent response

    There’s a huge difference between delivering a pointed irreverent dig and using the term as a mean-spirited slur. Not to mention the fact that a white person co-opting the word ‘whitey’ to turn an issue on its head is much like a black person’s use of the N word.

    The Blind Side had a right to commemorate an act of generosity because it recreated an actual real-life story. You weren’t talking about The Blind Side; I believe you were talking about the supposed ‘memorializing’ going on in The Help.

    I just find any kind of rhetoric regarding “racism” regardless of the originator or it’s focal point unacceptable.

    Don’t worry. NIc V. I have no hope and no intention of trying to convince you that you need to see The Help the way I see it or the way thousands of hurt and offended black people see it. If you’re not offended, then you might be a… you might be the target audience.

    I find it unacceptable that you throw a cussy fit if anyone else dares to feel offended. Oprah notwithstanding (she knows what sells), I’m more inclined to trust the feelings of responsible spokespersons in the Black Community when I’m trying to sort out the sensitive and thoughtful response to white projections of black issues. Gee, so the movie is a hit with white girls. What a surprise.

    Just asking you please have a little more tolerance for the feelings of people who are offended, ok? (is it not off-kilter that in this particular instance, your immediate impulse is to rush to the defense of …white people? So down-trodden, abused and disrespected, the white people of 1960s Mississippi.)

    The way you flew off in your initial comment felt ugly to me. Quite a show. I hesitate to provoke another tirade, but…

    if you want to pick a fight over the glowing assessment Sasha wrote, how about I give you the core argument you’re looking for?

    In support of your admiration for how well White America understands and ‘memorializes’ the Black Experience in this country, I’d like for you to name 5 novels by White authors that have captured the authentic voice of Black population in any significant way. You’ve got a million novels by white authors to choose from. Can you list 5 important novels about Black people by White authors that ever got it right. Or just choose the top 3. I’d be really curious to read them, if they exist.

    My point being, unless white authors, white screenwriters, white directors can enlist the input of black people any better than they usually do, maybe it’s best to leave the most important black stories to black authors and black directors. Otherwise, we end up with things like Crash.

  110. August 22, 2011

    If you think for a moment that the term “whitey” is an intellectual and intelligent response

    There’s a huge difference between delivering a pointed irreverent dig and using the term as a mean-spirited slur. Not to mention the fact that a white person co-opting the word ‘whitey’ to turn an issue on its head is much like a black person’s use of the N word.

    The Blind Side had a right to commemorate an act of generosity because it recreated an actual real-life story. You weren’t talking about The Blind Side; I believe you were talking about the supposed ‘memorializing’ going on in The Help.

    I just find any kind of rhetoric regarding “racism” regardless of the originator or it’s focal point unacceptable.

    Don’t worry. NIc V. I have no hope and no intention of trying to convince you that you need to see The Help the way I see it or the way thousands of hurt and offended black people see it. If you’re not offended, then you might be a… you might be the target audience.

    I find it unacceptable that you throw a cussy fit if anyone else dares to feel offended. Oprah notwithstanding (she knows what sells), I’m more inclined to trust the feelings of responsible spokespersons in the Black Community when I’m trying to sort out the sensitive and thoughtful response to white projections of black issues. Gee, so the movie is a hit with white girls. What a surprise.

    Just asking you please have a little more tolerance for the feelings of people who are offended, ok? (is it not off-kilter that in this particular instance, your immediate impulse is to rush to the defense of …white people? So down-trodden, abused and disrespected, the white people of 1960s Mississippi.)

    The way you flew off in your initial comment felt ugly to me. Quite a show. I hesitate to provoke another tirade, but…

    if you want to pick a fight over the glowing assessment Sasha wrote, how about I give you the core argument you’re looking for?

    In support of your admiration for how well White America understands and ‘memorializes’ the Black Experience in this country, I’d like for you to name 5 novels by White authors that have captured the authentic voice of Black population in any significant way. You’ve got a million novels by white authors to choose from. Can you list 5 important novels about Black people by White authors that ever got it right. Or just choose the top 3. I’d be really curious to read them, if they exist.

    My point being, unless white authors, white screenwriters, white directors can enlist the input of black people any better than they usually do, maybe it’s best to leave the most important black stories to black authors and black directors. Otherwise, we end up with things like Crash.

  111. christiannnw
    August 22, 2011

    so sick of this film already.

    well, that’s my two cents on this article!

  112. christiannnw
    August 22, 2011

    so sick of this film already.

    well, that’s my two cents on this article!

  113. m1
    August 22, 2011

    “I’m so sick of this film already.”

    Seriously, people? It’s only been two weeks. Don’t be ridiculous.

  114. m1
    August 22, 2011

    “I’m so sick of this film already.”

    Seriously, people? It’s only been two weeks. Don’t be ridiculous.

  115. NIc V
    August 22, 2011

    Ryan do you really believe that no one other blacks have had some of the same experiences that blacks endured during their struggle to achieve and attain equality? And believe me I’m not even saying that they have achieved that goal. I’m white gay male over sixty. Do you think I don’t understand discrimination? Do you think I don’t know what it’s like to be in a club and have police raid it? Do you think that I might not have gotten a particular job because the potential employer didn’t want a gay male in his employ? Do you even know how gay men who had no real money to sustain them had to live and where they had too live back in those days? Do you even know where most of the gay clubs were located in bigger cities? They were usually located in communities where when you left those places you were then prayed on by the local communities and targets for whatever beating came along. Do you think I don’t know what it was like to be one of those targets? So tell me I can’t relate to how blacks felt when they were targets of white marauders. I come from a poor white family that was trapped in an upper middle class city where there were no blacks. Do you think I don’t know or understand what it is to have the eptiaphs of “Poor White Trash” thrown at you on regular basis? Not even mention the gay slurs. When the discussion here centered on Precious there was the same implication that whites couldn’t relate to that experience. Do you think that only black children were raised in the welfare system? Do you think that only black children were abused or molested by a parent? Yes there are things I certainly cannot relate too when it comes to the black experience. But there are many I can relate too. I can relate to being the oldest of twelve and having my mother scrap, beg, borrow and steal too keep us alive. I can relate to being removed from a home and put in the foster care system and then returned to that environment because the system just didn’t give a damn. I can relate to being beaten by an alcoholic father, a father by the way who in seventeen years of marriage probably resided in our house for maybe four full yearsoff and on and when he did you lived in shadows. Do you think that a white male from a poor white family can’t find themselves in a legal system that is geared to protect only those with money? I can relate to a mother who knew of the abuse in her house and ignored it because she couldn’t face it. I can relate too another families children being brought into our house because my mother wanted to supplement our income. Don’t ever assume that you know something about someone’s life when you know nothing. I don’t need to find five black writers who examine the black experience. I have my own experience to draw upon just as many others do. And just as a footnote I was referring to the memoralizing in The Blind Side. Now you can give whatever cure you think you have just don’t tell me that I can’t relate on any level to any experience. Hell I just skimmed the surface. I actually hate having to defend myself by relating my own experience. I keep my personal life very private and rarely share such information. Fight? Hell I’ve fought all my life to survive. Pretty much the same way a lot of blacks, asians, native americans, and whites have.

    Yeah go ahead dish out your cure. Just don’t tell me I can’t relate.

  116. NIc V
    August 22, 2011

    Ryan do you really believe that no one other blacks have had some of the same experiences that blacks endured during their struggle to achieve and attain equality? And believe me I’m not even saying that they have achieved that goal. I’m white gay male over sixty. Do you think I don’t understand discrimination? Do you think I don’t know what it’s like to be in a club and have police raid it? Do you think that I might not have gotten a particular job because the potential employer didn’t want a gay male in his employ? Do you even know how gay men who had no real money to sustain them had to live and where they had too live back in those days? Do you even know where most of the gay clubs were located in bigger cities? They were usually located in communities where when you left those places you were then prayed on by the local communities and targets for whatever beating came along. Do you think I don’t know what it was like to be one of those targets? So tell me I can’t relate to how blacks felt when they were targets of white marauders. I come from a poor white family that was trapped in an upper middle class city where there were no blacks. Do you think I don’t know or understand what it is to have the eptiaphs of “Poor White Trash” thrown at you on regular basis? Not even mention the gay slurs. When the discussion here centered on Precious there was the same implication that whites couldn’t relate to that experience. Do you think that only black children were raised in the welfare system? Do you think that only black children were abused or molested by a parent? Yes there are things I certainly cannot relate too when it comes to the black experience. But there are many I can relate too. I can relate to being the oldest of twelve and having my mother scrap, beg, borrow and steal too keep us alive. I can relate to being removed from a home and put in the foster care system and then returned to that environment because the system just didn’t give a damn. I can relate to being beaten by an alcoholic father, a father by the way who in seventeen years of marriage probably resided in our house for maybe four full yearsoff and on and when he did you lived in shadows. Do you think that a white male from a poor white family can’t find themselves in a legal system that is geared to protect only those with money? I can relate to a mother who knew of the abuse in her house and ignored it because she couldn’t face it. I can relate too another families children being brought into our house because my mother wanted to supplement our income. Don’t ever assume that you know something about someone’s life when you know nothing. I don’t need to find five black writers who examine the black experience. I have my own experience to draw upon just as many others do. And just as a footnote I was referring to the memoralizing in The Blind Side. Now you can give whatever cure you think you have just don’t tell me that I can’t relate on any level to any experience. Hell I just skimmed the surface. I actually hate having to defend myself by relating my own experience. I keep my personal life very private and rarely share such information. Fight? Hell I’ve fought all my life to survive. Pretty much the same way a lot of blacks, asians, native americans, and whites have.

    Yeah go ahead dish out your cure. Just don’t tell me I can’t relate.

  117. August 22, 2011

    Again, NIc V, as I said upfront, I have no intention and no desire to try to convince you to feel the same way about The Help that I do. Each of us is entitled to our own response to any book, movie, or other work of art.

    That’s why I don’t get why you you want to lash out like this: “Damn “whitey” for liking a film about the black experience. Damn that “whitey”. You just can’t trust “whitey” can ya Sasha?” — my god, what? Especially in response to this particular post, which does everything it can to express the recognition of the broad acceptance the movie is receiving?

    I wouldn’t have even felt a need to engage you in this debate at all if you hadn’t come roaring in with your fists balled up like that. Nothing, NOTHING in this post should have provoked such a harsh and brutal reaction.

    I could also ask “Why do you want to drag The King’s Speech into this?” — but, ah, that might be the key to whole explosive detonation, right?

    Haven’t actually read your entire comment here, because have other urgent things to deal with. But I’ll come back and consider more carefully what you have to say. It’ll give us both a chance to chill.

  118. August 22, 2011

    Again, NIc V, as I said upfront, I have no intention and no desire to try to convince you to feel the same way about The Help that I do. Each of us is entitled to our own response to any book, movie, or other work of art.

    That’s why I don’t get why you you want to lash out like this: “Damn “whitey” for liking a film about the black experience. Damn that “whitey”. You just can’t trust “whitey” can ya Sasha?” — my god, what? Especially in response to this particular post, which does everything it can to express the recognition of the broad acceptance the movie is receiving?

    I wouldn’t have even felt a need to engage you in this debate at all if you hadn’t come roaring in with your fists balled up like that. Nothing, NOTHING in this post should have provoked such a harsh and brutal reaction.

    I could also ask “Why do you want to drag The King’s Speech into this?” — but, ah, that might be the key to whole explosive detonation, right?

    Haven’t actually read your entire comment here, because have other urgent things to deal with. But I’ll come back and consider more carefully what you have to say. It’ll give us both a chance to chill.

  119. August 22, 2011

    Now you can give whatever cure you think you have just don’t tell me that I can’t relate on any level to any experience.

    I will only add that this odd accusation that I’m trying administer a “cure” helps me think of an interesting hypothetical.

    Suppose 40 years from now when the long decades-old struggle for Gay Rights has hopefully come closer to being attained, imagine a movie being made in which a fictitious right-wing fundamentalist comes to the rescue of his small-town gay bar. Maybe it’s Marcus Bachmann who’s been imagineered and Disneyfied for future audiences as our benevolent plucky savior. The production values will be impeccable, and the performance by Maddox Jolie-Pitt as a sassy drag-queen is Oscar worthy!

    It might be a fine little movie. But it’ll be False History. The Fundamentalist Christians did not help the gay rights movement, and it will be hurtful to a lot a gay people who know better. (Even though the church buses full of movie-goers in 2051 will love it — and that’ll be …weird… but great! because, finally!)

    There is scant evidence that the Real Housewives of 1960s Mississippi did very much at all to advance the cause of the Civil Rights Movement. If there is indeed a factual story to prove otherwise, it might make a much more meaningful movie than this year’s current confection.

    Instead, what we’ve got is revisionist history lesson that is sadly going to be the ONLY lesson a lot of people will want to remember. That would be easier for me to accept if we had more movies that told the REAL story.

  120. August 22, 2011

    Now you can give whatever cure you think you have just don’t tell me that I can’t relate on any level to any experience.

    I will only add that this odd accusation that I’m trying administer a “cure” helps me think of an interesting hypothetical.

    Suppose 40 years from now when the long decades-old struggle for Gay Rights has hopefully come closer to being attained, imagine a movie being made in which a fictitious right-wing fundamentalist comes to the rescue of his small-town gay bar. Maybe it’s Marcus Bachmann who’s been imagineered and Disneyfied for future audiences as our benevolent plucky savior. The production values will be impeccable, and the performance by Maddox Jolie-Pitt as a sassy drag-queen is Oscar worthy!

    It might be a fine little movie. But it’ll be False History. The Fundamentalist Christians did not help the gay rights movement, and it will be hurtful to a lot a gay people who know better. (Even though the church buses full of movie-goers in 2051 will love it — and that’ll be …weird… but great! because, finally!)

    There is scant evidence that the Real Housewives of 1960s Mississippi did very much at all to advance the cause of the Civil Rights Movement. If there is indeed a factual story to prove otherwise, it might make a much more meaningful movie than this year’s current confection.

    Instead, what we’ve got is revisionist history lesson that is sadly going to be the ONLY lesson a lot of people will want to remember. That would be easier for me to accept if we had more movies that told the REAL story.

  121. Drew
    August 22, 2011

    Ryan,
    I can’t agree with your assessment at all. Is it really inappropriate for a white artist to tackle a black character or point-of-view. That just seems so narrow and the only logical extension is that black artists should stay away from white characters, or straights from gays (and vice versa), men and women, and so on. How boring and segregated our movie, novel, and television landscape would be if most shared your opinion. Do you need people to work on a giant diverse committee on every artistic attempt?
    Also I find your sympathy on behalf of the “thousands of hurt and offended black people” to be an ironic and misleading statement. First, the whole whites getting offended on behalf of blacks (and blogging about it) over a movie that features a white woman getting offended on behalf of black maids and writing a book taking their stories, is crazy. Can you not see the irony! Two, while you and Sasha mention how both Oprah and M. Obama loved and endorsed the film, you seem to suggest that they’re in the minority of black audiences. It seems to me that minority activist groups (who get offended over everything btw, be it real or not), are the ones getting the most offended over the film. I work at a theater and while my area is more diverse than some, the audience after the opening few days (mostly book fans dates) has probably been about 30/70 black/white. Almost everyone has been walking out happy, with many raving. Yes, even the black audiences. Gasp! I guess they didn’t get the memo on how offended they should be. Maybe you should tell them, even write a book…oh wait.
    For me, the movie was enjoyable, though hardly the best of the year (hovering around 6 or 7 on my mental list, as of now), but I find this controversy super silly. You cynically suggest that the movie is all about a white woman using black women’s stories to get ahead (you might of even said get rich, which, what?). I and others found the story to focus mainly on the black characters. All the three main characters grew through their unlikely friendship, and I’m a sucker for an actually good movie about female relationships. Though, what I appreciated most of all is the way all the female characters were well-rounded and fully thought out. Even the racist ones were more than they seemed (bryce pushed it a bit hard, though). I for one am choosing to celebrate a movie that actually features excellent roles for women, especially black women, since it is sadly all too rare. Maybe your efforts would be better spent writing about the racism of a 10-wide BP field last year that didn’t feature a single significant black character.

  122. Drew
    August 22, 2011

    Ryan,
    I can’t agree with your assessment at all. Is it really inappropriate for a white artist to tackle a black character or point-of-view. That just seems so narrow and the only logical extension is that black artists should stay away from white characters, or straights from gays (and vice versa), men and women, and so on. How boring and segregated our movie, novel, and television landscape would be if most shared your opinion. Do you need people to work on a giant diverse committee on every artistic attempt?
    Also I find your sympathy on behalf of the “thousands of hurt and offended black people” to be an ironic and misleading statement. First, the whole whites getting offended on behalf of blacks (and blogging about it) over a movie that features a white woman getting offended on behalf of black maids and writing a book taking their stories, is crazy. Can you not see the irony! Two, while you and Sasha mention how both Oprah and M. Obama loved and endorsed the film, you seem to suggest that they’re in the minority of black audiences. It seems to me that minority activist groups (who get offended over everything btw, be it real or not), are the ones getting the most offended over the film. I work at a theater and while my area is more diverse than some, the audience after the opening few days (mostly book fans dates) has probably been about 30/70 black/white. Almost everyone has been walking out happy, with many raving. Yes, even the black audiences. Gasp! I guess they didn’t get the memo on how offended they should be. Maybe you should tell them, even write a book…oh wait.
    For me, the movie was enjoyable, though hardly the best of the year (hovering around 6 or 7 on my mental list, as of now), but I find this controversy super silly. You cynically suggest that the movie is all about a white woman using black women’s stories to get ahead (you might of even said get rich, which, what?). I and others found the story to focus mainly on the black characters. All the three main characters grew through their unlikely friendship, and I’m a sucker for an actually good movie about female relationships. Though, what I appreciated most of all is the way all the female characters were well-rounded and fully thought out. Even the racist ones were more than they seemed (bryce pushed it a bit hard, though). I for one am choosing to celebrate a movie that actually features excellent roles for women, especially black women, since it is sadly all too rare. Maybe your efforts would be better spent writing about the racism of a 10-wide BP field last year that didn’t feature a single significant black character.

  123. Gentle Benj
    August 22, 2011

    Oprah notwithstanding (she knows what sells), I’m more inclined to trust the feelings of responsible spokespersons in the Black Community

    Oprah knows what sells, and what sells is whatever she recommends. If any celebrity is under no pressure to conform to popular opinion, it’s her. She makes popular opinion.

    The tricky thing about seeking out the thoughts of “responsible” people, is that the opinions that will sound responsible to you are the ones that align with your own inclinations.

  124. Gentle Benj
    August 22, 2011

    Oprah notwithstanding (she knows what sells), I’m more inclined to trust the feelings of responsible spokespersons in the Black Community

    Oprah knows what sells, and what sells is whatever she recommends. If any celebrity is under no pressure to conform to popular opinion, it’s her. She makes popular opinion.

    The tricky thing about seeking out the thoughts of “responsible” people, is that the opinions that will sound responsible to you are the ones that align with your own inclinations.

  125. menyc
    August 22, 2011

    “the performance by Maddox Jolie-Pitt as a sassy drag-queen”
    i just choked on an iced coffee

    NicV’s original rant is that of a punk and RA owned him.

  126. menyc
    August 22, 2011

    “the performance by Maddox Jolie-Pitt as a sassy drag-queen”
    i just choked on an iced coffee

    NicV’s original rant is that of a punk and RA owned him.

  127. August 22, 2011

    The tricky thing about seeking out the thoughts of “responsible” people, is that the opinions that will sound responsible to you are the ones that align with your own inclinations.

    it doesn’t feel tricky if you practice doing it as often as I do. It’s second nature! Happens for me on autopilot!

    Seriously, Benj, I’m only half joking. Don’t we all do that? We do our best to get a sense of all the alternative viewpoints floating around in the ether, and then we each find a handle on the zeitgeist we feel comfortable clinging to, right?

    I fully understand that a whole lot of people will eat this movie up with a spoon. And go back for second Helpings! I get it. I do. All I’m asking is that people who fall in love with The Help try to have an equal measure of understanding for those of us who fail to fall for it, ok?

  128. August 22, 2011

    The tricky thing about seeking out the thoughts of “responsible” people, is that the opinions that will sound responsible to you are the ones that align with your own inclinations.

    it doesn’t feel tricky if you practice doing it as often as I do. It’s second nature! Happens for me on autopilot!

    Seriously, Benj, I’m only half joking. Don’t we all do that? We do our best to get a sense of all the alternative viewpoints floating around in the ether, and then we each find a handle on the zeitgeist we feel comfortable clinging to, right?

    I fully understand that a whole lot of people will eat this movie up with a spoon. And go back for second Helpings! I get it. I do. All I’m asking is that people who fall in love with The Help try to have an equal measure of understanding for those of us who fail to fall for it, ok?

  129. August 22, 2011

    Ryan,
    I can’t agree with your assessment at all. Is it really inappropriate for a white artist to tackle a black character or point-of-view. That just seems so narrow and the only logical extension is that black artists should stay away from white characters

    Drew, I’m not talking about the creation of isolated individual characters in the scope of larger stories. There are certainly problematic things about Mark Twain’s Jim in Huckleberry Finn, but nobody in his right mind would say Twain had no business including that character. Likewise, Tom Robinson in To Kill a Mockingbird had to be invented from whatever tangential experience Harper Lee was able to assimilate — but, honestly, he barely gets a chance to speak his own mind (appropriately enough, in context) and it’s Huck Finn and Scout who star in those stories.

    Movies are a wonderful opportunity to flesh out characters that might not be well-defined on the page — because we can rely on the Black actors themselves to bring their own genuine experience to fill in whatever blanks are left empty by authors of another race. That’s why it would be especially gratifying to be sure Viola Davis and Octavia Spenser are given due credit for the success of The Help. I see authenticity on the screen in their characters that was painfully lacking in the novel (as much of the novel as I could stomach reading).

    Nope, what I mean is that this specific era in American history is still a tender wound that has not yet healed, and it really makes me flinch to feel anybody clumsily poking at it with a blunt stick. That’s ME. That’s MY impression. Your mileage will differ.

    I don’t want to hammer this point to death, (and also sort of fear somebody will rise to the challenge and come up with some great examples to demolish my argument) but I’ll ask again: If white writers are so great about telling the important stories of the Black Experience in America, then where are those novels? I don’t see any evidence that white writers have ever nailed it. If you can think of good examples to enlighten me, I’d sincerely love to hear about them.

    ‘Reading is thinking with someone else’s brain’ — Schopenhauer

    If I want to really feel what it’s like inside a black person’s head, I’ll turn to Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Terry McMillan, Colson Whitehead, Walter Mosley… Alex Haley, Richard Wright… Ralph Ellison!

    sure, Mandingo was a hugely popular novel. Massive bestseller. But I’m not gonna be reading it to get a valid sense of Slave Era sexual relations, am I?

    I’m not saying white authors need to be banned from attempting to tell the stories told so beautifully by the authors I’ve named here. More power to them. Good luck with that. All I’m saying is Where Are the Good Examples that they ever really succeed? Seems to me a foolhardy endeavor, and destined to be dissected with justifiable skepticism.

  130. August 22, 2011

    Ryan,
    I can’t agree with your assessment at all. Is it really inappropriate for a white artist to tackle a black character or point-of-view. That just seems so narrow and the only logical extension is that black artists should stay away from white characters

    Drew, I’m not talking about the creation of isolated individual characters in the scope of larger stories. There are certainly problematic things about Mark Twain’s Jim in Huckleberry Finn, but nobody in his right mind would say Twain had no business including that character. Likewise, Tom Robinson in To Kill a Mockingbird had to be invented from whatever tangential experience Harper Lee was able to assimilate — but, honestly, he barely gets a chance to speak his own mind (appropriately enough, in context) and it’s Huck Finn and Scout who star in those stories.

    Movies are a wonderful opportunity to flesh out characters that might not be well-defined on the page — because we can rely on the Black actors themselves to bring their own genuine experience to fill in whatever blanks are left empty by authors of another race. That’s why it would be especially gratifying to be sure Viola Davis and Octavia Spenser are given due credit for the success of The Help. I see authenticity on the screen in their characters that was painfully lacking in the novel (as much of the novel as I could stomach reading).

    Nope, what I mean is that this specific era in American history is still a tender wound that has not yet healed, and it really makes me flinch to feel anybody clumsily poking at it with a blunt stick. That’s ME. That’s MY impression. Your mileage will differ.

    I don’t want to hammer this point to death, (and also sort of fear somebody will rise to the challenge and come up with some great examples to demolish my argument) but I’ll ask again: If white writers are so great about telling the important stories of the Black Experience in America, then where are those novels? I don’t see any evidence that white writers have ever nailed it. If you can think of good examples to enlighten me, I’d sincerely love to hear about them.

    ‘Reading is thinking with someone else’s brain’ — Schopenhauer

    If I want to really feel what it’s like inside a black person’s head, I’ll turn to Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Terry McMillan, Colson Whitehead, Walter Mosley… Alex Haley, Richard Wright… Ralph Ellison!

    sure, Mandingo was a hugely popular novel. Massive bestseller. But I’m not gonna be reading it to get a valid sense of Slave Era sexual relations, am I?

    I’m not saying white authors need to be banned from attempting to tell the stories told so beautifully by the authors I’ve named here. More power to them. Good luck with that. All I’m saying is Where Are the Good Examples that they ever really succeed? Seems to me a foolhardy endeavor, and destined to be dissected with justifiable skepticism.

  131. La Pantalla
    August 22, 2011

    I’m not African-American so it’s difficult for me to understand why so many In the Black community are against this film, though I can see that it does trivialize important issues. However, on the plus side, the two main African American roles are three-dimensional, well-rounded, admirable characters and juicy parts for these actresses to sink their teeth into. That’s certainly an improvement over many female roles where the woman is only there for window dressing.

    And, Sasha, Hispanic or Latino, it’s largely a matter of personal preference. Personally, I prefer to call myself Latina. The term Hispanic to me emphasizes the Spanish blood and ignores the Indian blood that predominates in many mestizos. If you look at me with my dark brown skin and brown eyes,clearly the Indian blood dominates.

  132. La Pantalla
    August 22, 2011

    I’m not African-American so it’s difficult for me to understand why so many In the Black community are against this film, though I can see that it does trivialize important issues. However, on the plus side, the two main African American roles are three-dimensional, well-rounded, admirable characters and juicy parts for these actresses to sink their teeth into. That’s certainly an improvement over many female roles where the woman is only there for window dressing.

    And, Sasha, Hispanic or Latino, it’s largely a matter of personal preference. Personally, I prefer to call myself Latina. The term Hispanic to me emphasizes the Spanish blood and ignores the Indian blood that predominates in many mestizos. If you look at me with my dark brown skin and brown eyes,clearly the Indian blood dominates.

  133. Whitney
    August 22, 2011

    I am at a loss of words and also very busy right now. Read the intelligent and insightful posts on an older entry called “The Help Kicks Up a Firestorm” because some of the posts here are too overwhelming to offer a rebuttal too. Apparently, lawsuits against possible stolen stories and exploitation do not matter to our society. It is okay to celebrate stereotypes to such an outrageous degree. Also, people also seem to love hackneyed melodrama and over the top performances. Some people actually disliked the movie without the racially charged factor. Ugh. I am just disgusted with this turn of events because The Help has become such a huge hit at the Box Office as well as the critical reviews being high. I honestly think Viola is screwed if her camp campaigns for lead. Look at the contender’s list for Best Actress, it is long and very competitive with actresses in better projects.

    How many people here are actually minorities or have friends/family who are in a minority group that has dealt with discrimination? How many people here actually care about the lawsuit and controversy! The lawsuit is central to understand how this movie glorifies exploitation of rich white women profitting off from poor black women. That is literally what Ablene said what happend which is a sick contrast & coincidence when you compare to what happens in the movie/book.

    I know somebody wanted to issue a moratorium but I just have to say: Out of the summer releases, HP and Tree of Life better make the cut over The Help. If The Help is the frontrunner at this year’s Oscars, then I won’t be invested in the awards race at all. I can’t believe The Help’s extraordinary run at the box office. Good grief. This is turning crazy.

  134. Whitney
    August 22, 2011

    I am at a loss of words and also very busy right now. Read the intelligent and insightful posts on an older entry called “The Help Kicks Up a Firestorm” because some of the posts here are too overwhelming to offer a rebuttal too. Apparently, lawsuits against possible stolen stories and exploitation do not matter to our society. It is okay to celebrate stereotypes to such an outrageous degree. Also, people also seem to love hackneyed melodrama and over the top performances. Some people actually disliked the movie without the racially charged factor. Ugh. I am just disgusted with this turn of events because The Help has become such a huge hit at the Box Office as well as the critical reviews being high. I honestly think Viola is screwed if her camp campaigns for lead. Look at the contender’s list for Best Actress, it is long and very competitive with actresses in better projects.

    How many people here are actually minorities or have friends/family who are in a minority group that has dealt with discrimination? How many people here actually care about the lawsuit and controversy! The lawsuit is central to understand how this movie glorifies exploitation of rich white women profitting off from poor black women. That is literally what Ablene said what happend which is a sick contrast & coincidence when you compare to what happens in the movie/book.

    I know somebody wanted to issue a moratorium but I just have to say: Out of the summer releases, HP and Tree of Life better make the cut over The Help. If The Help is the frontrunner at this year’s Oscars, then I won’t be invested in the awards race at all. I can’t believe The Help’s extraordinary run at the box office. Good grief. This is turning crazy.

  135. Gentle Benj
    August 22, 2011

    All I’m asking is that people who fall in love with The Help try to have an equal measure of understanding for those of us who fail to fall for it, ok?

    That’s a good ideal, buI don’t know if it’s even possible, in either direction. Since time immemorial, whenever a film has generated strong feelings, its fans and detractors have set about industriously explaining away the other side’s views. It’s always going to happen. Nic attempted to explain away Sasha’s view of the film–”of course she’s offended by it; she’s a liberal spoiling for a fight!” And you and Sasha have explained away the film’s success, too, although in much less aggressive, nasty ways–”of course people love it; they’re white, and they use their hearts more than their heads!”

    It’s a natural impulse. When another sentient being takes a view than directly opposes ours, we long for an explanation of how this could have happened, and often generate one almost instantly.

    While I don’t think it’s likely that we can achieve peace, love, and understanding when it comes to divisive films like this, I do think there’s a concrete step we could take to move in that direction. When writing about the movie, stick to your reading, your claims, your evidence. Avoid analysis of the opposition’s true reasons for feeling the way they do; stick to analysis of the film. If your argument is better, there’s no need to undermine the other.

    Incidentally, this strategy is one that I just now formulated, and one that I have never really followed before… :-)

    When it comes to THE HELP specifically, I have not seen it, and have no plans to until its DVD release. But from what I’ve read, the stronger case has been made by those who assert that the film is historically false, and suffers for it. If the film’s supporters want to even the score, I’d love to see their arguments. But apoplectic fits like Nic’s above aren’t helping.

  136. Gentle Benj
    August 22, 2011

    All I’m asking is that people who fall in love with The Help try to have an equal measure of understanding for those of us who fail to fall for it, ok?

    That’s a good ideal, buI don’t know if it’s even possible, in either direction. Since time immemorial, whenever a film has generated strong feelings, its fans and detractors have set about industriously explaining away the other side’s views. It’s always going to happen. Nic attempted to explain away Sasha’s view of the film–”of course she’s offended by it; she’s a liberal spoiling for a fight!” And you and Sasha have explained away the film’s success, too, although in much less aggressive, nasty ways–”of course people love it; they’re white, and they use their hearts more than their heads!”

    It’s a natural impulse. When another sentient being takes a view than directly opposes ours, we long for an explanation of how this could have happened, and often generate one almost instantly.

    While I don’t think it’s likely that we can achieve peace, love, and understanding when it comes to divisive films like this, I do think there’s a concrete step we could take to move in that direction. When writing about the movie, stick to your reading, your claims, your evidence. Avoid analysis of the opposition’s true reasons for feeling the way they do; stick to analysis of the film. If your argument is better, there’s no need to undermine the other.

    Incidentally, this strategy is one that I just now formulated, and one that I have never really followed before… :-)

    When it comes to THE HELP specifically, I have not seen it, and have no plans to until its DVD release. But from what I’ve read, the stronger case has been made by those who assert that the film is historically false, and suffers for it. If the film’s supporters want to even the score, I’d love to see their arguments. But apoplectic fits like Nic’s above aren’t helping.

  137. Whitney
    August 22, 2011

    The PR machine and spin machine towards this movie is utterly mind-boggling and so blatant…ugh I am just inarticulate today. It did so well, it managed to crush four new releases. I think I might actually watch Are you Afraid of the Dark or Colombiana just because I do not want The Help being #1 again. It reminded me how the buzz about The King’s Speech made an average movie into such a big hit and it suddenly swept the awards race because of its social networking and campaigning.

  138. Whitney
    August 22, 2011

    The PR machine and spin machine towards this movie is utterly mind-boggling and so blatant…ugh I am just inarticulate today. It did so well, it managed to crush four new releases. I think I might actually watch Are you Afraid of the Dark or Colombiana just because I do not want The Help being #1 again. It reminded me how the buzz about The King’s Speech made an average movie into such a big hit and it suddenly swept the awards race because of its social networking and campaigning.

  139. August 22, 2011

    Two, while you and Sasha mention how both Oprah and M. Obama loved and endorsed the film

    Can I please point out that Michelle Obama has not actually endorsed The Help. She requested a screening at the White House, which only tells me she hadn’t yet seen it. I haven’t read her review or heard her impression afterwards. Not a word.

    Maybe she adored it. Or maybe could be that people in the political arena sometimes do things that are politically expedient.

  140. August 22, 2011

    Two, while you and Sasha mention how both Oprah and M. Obama loved and endorsed the film

    Can I please point out that Michelle Obama has not actually endorsed The Help. She requested a screening at the White House, which only tells me she hadn’t yet seen it. I haven’t read her review or heard her impression afterwards. Not a word.

    Maybe she adored it. Or maybe could be that people in the political arena sometimes do things that are politically expedient.

  141. Gentle Benj
    August 22, 2011

    I think I might actually watch Are you Afraid of the Dark

    Do it!

  142. Gentle Benj
    August 22, 2011

    I think I might actually watch Are you Afraid of the Dark

    Do it!

  143. Drew
    August 22, 2011

    I have to say despite all the uproar, hoo-rah, bitchin’ and complainin’ about this movie, I could not give any less of a shit about it. My first reponse when it nabbed so many dead prez’s was, ok, cool…I don’t care. Not that I’m saying that any argument, essay, or article about what the movie is generating is pointless, but, yeah, I just can’t get myself excited or even remotley interested in this thing.

    Try to imagine that paragraph in a Steven Wright, or H. John, Benjamin voice.

  144. Drew
    August 22, 2011

    I have to say despite all the uproar, hoo-rah, bitchin’ and complainin’ about this movie, I could not give any less of a shit about it. My first reponse when it nabbed so many dead prez’s was, ok, cool…I don’t care. Not that I’m saying that any argument, essay, or article about what the movie is generating is pointless, but, yeah, I just can’t get myself excited or even remotley interested in this thing.

    Try to imagine that paragraph in a Steven Wright, or H. John, Benjamin voice.

  145. August 22, 2011

    I do want to thank you though, NIc V — Your followup explanations were well-reasoned and absolutely solid. Your personal connections were especially effective in illustrating how your own emotional connection has a strong foundation.

    really, I was gonna stay out of the fray on this one — I’d already battled it out on Twitter and in personal emails with friends I very much respect. I was feeling exhausted and ready to concede that the overwhelming box-office success should be proof enough that good word is spreading about The Help — beyond anything the marketing or cable debates could bolster or undermine.

    NIc V, your comment prompted me to speak up. So. Everybody can blame NIc V for that too!

    ;-)

  146. August 22, 2011

    I do want to thank you though, NIc V — Your followup explanations were well-reasoned and absolutely solid. Your personal connections were especially effective in illustrating how your own emotional connection has a strong foundation.

    really, I was gonna stay out of the fray on this one — I’d already battled it out on Twitter and in personal emails with friends I very much respect. I was feeling exhausted and ready to concede that the overwhelming box-office success should be proof enough that good word is spreading about The Help — beyond anything the marketing or cable debates could bolster or undermine.

    NIc V, your comment prompted me to speak up. So. Everybody can blame NIc V for that too!

    ;-)

  147. Don
    August 22, 2011

    The Help will come close to 150 million. Word of mouth is outstanding and people are Lois this movie. It will have another small dropthis weekend and make about 15-17 million. Making it number 1 again.

  148. Don
    August 22, 2011

    The Help will come close to 150 million. Word of mouth is outstanding and people are Lois this movie. It will have another small dropthis weekend and make about 15-17 million. Making it number 1 again.

  149. phantom
    August 22, 2011

    So, I might have interpreted it in the wrong way, but isn’t “the help” who actually helped Skeeter and not the other way around ? Skeeter had a promising writing career after the book, the women who helped her get there, stayed in Jackson working as maids. She would have been nowhere without those brave characters, something she clearly acknowledged by the end of the film when she had trouble leaving them behind, clearly being fully aware that nothing is going to change for them.

    I liked Stone’s character because it was understated and NEVER credited herself with anything, she knew she was just the typewriter , the stories belonged to the women in Aibileen’s living room. She wanted to give the reader ‘the help’s’ point of view and she did just that without altering or sugarcoating it. She respected those women and it wasn’t the typical “white lady helps poor black people” story, although a lot of people are trying to make it look like that. Sure the film as a whole was “the Hollywood-version”, sugarcoating or completely leaving out crucial parts (beatings, killings, sexual harassment etc.), but the relationship between Skeeter and the maids was obvious : she needed their help and they provided it by risking their lives and gaining nothing.

  150. phantom
    August 22, 2011

    So, I might have interpreted it in the wrong way, but isn’t “the help” who actually helped Skeeter and not the other way around ? Skeeter had a promising writing career after the book, the women who helped her get there, stayed in Jackson working as maids. She would have been nowhere without those brave characters, something she clearly acknowledged by the end of the film when she had trouble leaving them behind, clearly being fully aware that nothing is going to change for them.

    I liked Stone’s character because it was understated and NEVER credited herself with anything, she knew she was just the typewriter , the stories belonged to the women in Aibileen’s living room. She wanted to give the reader ‘the help’s’ point of view and she did just that without altering or sugarcoating it. She respected those women and it wasn’t the typical “white lady helps poor black people” story, although a lot of people are trying to make it look like that. Sure the film as a whole was “the Hollywood-version”, sugarcoating or completely leaving out crucial parts (beatings, killings, sexual harassment etc.), but the relationship between Skeeter and the maids was obvious : she needed their help and they provided it by risking their lives and gaining nothing.

  151. Film Fatale
    August 22, 2011

    Whatever on the politics and controversy. This is one damned moving film that burns down the house in its final reel, leaving the audience in tears — that rarely happens in movies anymore, and this one, along with WARRIOR, I might add, both are like emotional sucker punches, and both earned, not manipulative. That is why the average person goes to the movies, period.

  152. Film Fatale
    August 22, 2011

    Whatever on the politics and controversy. This is one damned moving film that burns down the house in its final reel, leaving the audience in tears — that rarely happens in movies anymore, and this one, along with WARRIOR, I might add, both are like emotional sucker punches, and both earned, not manipulative. That is why the average person goes to the movies, period.

  153. T
    August 22, 2011

    Exactly. The “help” ( the black servants) risked so much and who profitted from it: white Skeeter by sharing their stories! They got NOTHING and Skeeter got to benefit from it! Talk about white guilt and turning it on its head. Just like Stockett profitted from Ablene’s story with millions of books sales and a movie deal without her permission which is why she is suing her! Why are people missing that profound parallel there that makes this movie an offensive joke?! No, is not a typical white woman helps black women story, it is a black women helps make a white woman more famous and rich story without receiving due credit nor having their own lives changed for it!

    You contradicted yourself in your post because you listed examples of the movie sugar-coating everything.
    A white woman got the credit over black women’s struggles who did not profit from it at all! The movie was manipulative as hell.

    I go to the movies to be enlightened and informed. I want my mind challenged. I don’t go to be manipulated by calculating and devious bs masquerading as a civil rights tear-jerker when it is the OPPOSITE!!!!

  154. T
    August 22, 2011

    Exactly. The “help” ( the black servants) risked so much and who profitted from it: white Skeeter by sharing their stories! They got NOTHING and Skeeter got to benefit from it! Talk about white guilt and turning it on its head. Just like Stockett profitted from Ablene’s story with millions of books sales and a movie deal without her permission which is why she is suing her! Why are people missing that profound parallel there that makes this movie an offensive joke?! No, is not a typical white woman helps black women story, it is a black women helps make a white woman more famous and rich story without receiving due credit nor having their own lives changed for it!

    You contradicted yourself in your post because you listed examples of the movie sugar-coating everything.
    A white woman got the credit over black women’s struggles who did not profit from it at all! The movie was manipulative as hell.

    I go to the movies to be enlightened and informed. I want my mind challenged. I don’t go to be manipulated by calculating and devious bs masquerading as a civil rights tear-jerker when it is the OPPOSITE!!!!

  155. T
    August 22, 2011

    What a great message! They were stuck working as maids while the character goes off to become an accomplished writer by using their pain and stories! They helped her and Skeeter reaped self-serving benefits. The help with The Help was one-sided and opportunistic. Did it make a difference for black women? Or did it just provide entertainment for white women?

  156. T
    August 22, 2011

    What a great message! They were stuck working as maids while the character goes off to become an accomplished writer by using their pain and stories! They helped her and Skeeter reaped self-serving benefits. The help with The Help was one-sided and opportunistic. Did it make a difference for black women? Or did it just provide entertainment for white women?

  157. Eat Pray Curtis
    August 22, 2011

    I am so happy for this movie. WOM is crazy good and it seems like everybody is loving. I see a lot of oscar nods coming with the box office numbers. Movie should do close to 160 million. Well done disney. Great book into a great movie.

  158. Eat Pray Curtis
    August 22, 2011

    I am so happy for this movie. WOM is crazy good and it seems like everybody is loving. I see a lot of oscar nods coming with the box office numbers. Movie should do close to 160 million. Well done disney. Great book into a great movie.

  159. tony
    August 22, 2011

    The Help is locked to be number this weekend as well and should be number the week after. Word of mouth is really great and everybody is talking about the film. This will be a huge hit and expect to see some major oscar nods. Davis get your speech ready.

  160. tony
    August 22, 2011

    The Help is locked to be number this weekend as well and should be number the week after. Word of mouth is really great and everybody is talking about the film. This will be a huge hit and expect to see some major oscar nods. Davis get your speech ready.

  161. phantom
    August 22, 2011

    T

    “You contradicted yourself in your post because you listed examples of the movie sugar-coating everything.
    A white woman got the credit over black women’s struggles who did not profit from it at all! ”

    Frankly, I don’t see the problem. We BOTH think Skeeter got the credit for the maids’ stories. I guess the only difference, that I also think that the character IS aware that she doesn’t deserve all the credit, THAT’s why she shares the profits with every maid she interviewed.

    I like how someone said it was a “fairy tale”…it was. A touching, manipulative, well-acted, historically incorrect, sugarcoated Hollywood-version of that era. The story wasn’t based on real events, it wasn’t a biopic, it was fiction. Effective for sure, but lazy…it’s ironic that at the age of such brilliant visual achievements, this was one of the most “black and white” film, I have ever seen, and no, there is absolutely NO pun intended. It was just SO…obvious : there were the demonized mean white women and the heroic maids. There were villains and there were heroes, nothing between the two…just like in a fairy tale. The director/screenwriter (and the writer of the novel) clearly went with a lot of safe choices instead of digging deep and giving us a realistic picture of that era and realistic characters instead of stereotypes (the mean girl, the dumb blonde with a heart of gold, the feisty maid etc.). It was an effective, well-made film, but it could have been more realistic…and if it had been more realistic, it would have been a MUCH better film, as well.

  162. phantom
    August 22, 2011

    T

    “You contradicted yourself in your post because you listed examples of the movie sugar-coating everything.
    A white woman got the credit over black women’s struggles who did not profit from it at all! ”

    Frankly, I don’t see the problem. We BOTH think Skeeter got the credit for the maids’ stories. I guess the only difference, that I also think that the character IS aware that she doesn’t deserve all the credit, THAT’s why she shares the profits with every maid she interviewed.

    I like how someone said it was a “fairy tale”…it was. A touching, manipulative, well-acted, historically incorrect, sugarcoated Hollywood-version of that era. The story wasn’t based on real events, it wasn’t a biopic, it was fiction. Effective for sure, but lazy…it’s ironic that at the age of such brilliant visual achievements, this was one of the most “black and white” film, I have ever seen, and no, there is absolutely NO pun intended. It was just SO…obvious : there were the demonized mean white women and the heroic maids. There were villains and there were heroes, nothing between the two…just like in a fairy tale. The director/screenwriter (and the writer of the novel) clearly went with a lot of safe choices instead of digging deep and giving us a realistic picture of that era and realistic characters instead of stereotypes (the mean girl, the dumb blonde with a heart of gold, the feisty maid etc.). It was an effective, well-made film, but it could have been more realistic…and if it had been more realistic, it would have been a MUCH better film, as well.

  163. amy
    August 22, 2011

    those interested GK films site have uploaded the cast and crew of i In the land of blood and honey,it has a solid crew i really hope its a very good movie

  164. amy
    August 22, 2011

    those interested GK films site have uploaded the cast and crew of i In the land of blood and honey,it has a solid crew i really hope its a very good movie

  165. julian the emperor
    August 22, 2011

    Ryan, your assessment that only black writers should do novels about “black history” is problematic, to say the least. Art is not about earning the right to talk about certain things. Art is about the power of expression, the power of words, the power of characterization. Is it more likely that a black writer can create a great portrait of a black hero/heroine (or villain)? Perhaps. But is that really a very interesting question? So what if white writers (in your opinion) have not succeeded in creating viable black characters? Should that keep aspiring novelists from writing about “tough” issues, like segregation between blacks and whites in the 1950s?
    Every writer should feel free to express whatever it is that they feel inclined to express. It would be sad if a white writer could not address “black” issues because it is deemed morally unsound for a white person to even address certain issues! Art becomes “safe”, slick and conventional whenever someone has an opinion about who has the right or the knowledge to speak, write (or create movies) about certain issues. In such cases people perceive everything but the work of art itself. When you make a distinction about art based on the premises you mention, Ryan, art becomes a question of politics and moralization, not to mention self-censorship.

    A great novel by a non-black writer about the “black condition”? Try The Human Stain (and please, do your best to erase any notion of the quite horrific film adaptation!) Yes, Roth is a Jew (and yes, Jews used to be a marginalized segment of American society), but the interesting thing about The Human Stain is that Roth succeeds in (the somehow ironic) feat of making his black protagonist live as a Jewish professor (ironic, because he thereby acknowledges the advantage of being Jewish in academia). But the important thing is that Roth uses his awareness of the identity struggle of a minority (as a Jew) to express the identity struggle of another minority (the blacks). The vast majority of American Jewry is a part of the cultural, social and financial elite of the USA of today, but still Roth is able to create a compelling tale about a black man’s struggle to overcome his innate obstacles thereby creating tragedy, the tragedy of a thoughtless assimilation to core American values. The whole thing comes tumbling down, the “American pastoral” (to paraphrase another Roth classic) turns into an American nightmare.
    Oh well. I’m just saying: there are great novels about the “black” issues out there written by a representative of WASP America (and who will argue that Jews have not been a part of the upper echelon of American society since the 1960s).

  166. julian the emperor
    August 22, 2011

    Ryan, your assessment that only black writers should do novels about “black history” is problematic, to say the least. Art is not about earning the right to talk about certain things. Art is about the power of expression, the power of words, the power of characterization. Is it more likely that a black writer can create a great portrait of a black hero/heroine (or villain)? Perhaps. But is that really a very interesting question? So what if white writers (in your opinion) have not succeeded in creating viable black characters? Should that keep aspiring novelists from writing about “tough” issues, like segregation between blacks and whites in the 1950s?
    Every writer should feel free to express whatever it is that they feel inclined to express. It would be sad if a white writer could not address “black” issues because it is deemed morally unsound for a white person to even address certain issues! Art becomes “safe”, slick and conventional whenever someone has an opinion about who has the right or the knowledge to speak, write (or create movies) about certain issues. In such cases people perceive everything but the work of art itself. When you make a distinction about art based on the premises you mention, Ryan, art becomes a question of politics and moralization, not to mention self-censorship.

    A great novel by a non-black writer about the “black condition”? Try The Human Stain (and please, do your best to erase any notion of the quite horrific film adaptation!) Yes, Roth is a Jew (and yes, Jews used to be a marginalized segment of American society), but the interesting thing about The Human Stain is that Roth succeeds in (the somehow ironic) feat of making his black protagonist live as a Jewish professor (ironic, because he thereby acknowledges the advantage of being Jewish in academia). But the important thing is that Roth uses his awareness of the identity struggle of a minority (as a Jew) to express the identity struggle of another minority (the blacks). The vast majority of American Jewry is a part of the cultural, social and financial elite of the USA of today, but still Roth is able to create a compelling tale about a black man’s struggle to overcome his innate obstacles thereby creating tragedy, the tragedy of a thoughtless assimilation to core American values. The whole thing comes tumbling down, the “American pastoral” (to paraphrase another Roth classic) turns into an American nightmare.
    Oh well. I’m just saying: there are great novels about the “black” issues out there written by a representative of WASP America (and who will argue that Jews have not been a part of the upper echelon of American society since the 1960s).

  167. g
    August 22, 2011

    I found the movie sappy and over dramatic, but I loved Davis and Spencer! They were amazing!

  168. g
    August 22, 2011

    I found the movie sappy and over dramatic, but I loved Davis and Spencer! They were amazing!

  169. August 22, 2011

    Julian, I winced at “moralization” the first time you accused me of that, and then you hit me with it twice. I don’t know where you get “moralizing” out of anything I wrote. This has nothing to do with any moral stance. It’s purely a matter of me never in my life having come across a book — and precious few movies — that ever tried to approach the lives of major black characters and foreground storylines about black people told from the perspective of white writers that were not problematic to some degree.

    (Movies are easier to find, as I’ve said, because there’s usually significant black talent involved as collaborators to help the white guys “keep it real” — but it’s even hard to think of many movies by white guys with important black themes that I find interesting — except as ghastly misfires worth watching for the meta-commentary they make on their era. (Stanley Kramer could pull it off.)

    I had forgotten about The Human Stain, but I think you must see that’s not at all the sort of story I’m talking about. The fact the character successfully presented himself as white all his life — and was portrayed in the film by Anthony Hopkins! — is pretty much more proof of my assertion rather than any valid refutation. The character lived his entire life as white guy! That he was Creole in ways that it would take deep digging on ancestry.com to detect is a pretty poor example of the Black Experience I’m talking about, don’t you think?

    I do applaud Roth attempting that touchy subject. He’s one of America’s literary legends and has complete effortless mastery of his craft. Also goes without saying that degree of talent is so exceeding rare as to be an anomaly, wouldn’t you agree?

    I was careful to say I don’t mean white writers should be forbidden from trying. White guys can try to rap too. hey, go for it! So long as they realize Eminems are as rare as Roths.

    I don’t know any plainer way to say it. If white writers are such expert mimics of the black voice, then where are all these incredibly sensitive books about authentic black relationships they’ve written?

  170. August 22, 2011

    Julian, I winced at “moralization” the first time you accused me of that, and then you hit me with it twice. I don’t know where you get “moralizing” out of anything I wrote. This has nothing to do with any moral stance. It’s purely a matter of me never in my life having come across a book — and precious few movies — that ever tried to approach the lives of major black characters and foreground storylines about black people told from the perspective of white writers that were not problematic to some degree.

    (Movies are easier to find, as I’ve said, because there’s usually significant black talent involved as collaborators to help the white guys “keep it real” — but it’s even hard to think of many movies by white guys with important black themes that I find interesting — except as ghastly misfires worth watching for the meta-commentary they make on their era. (Stanley Kramer could pull it off.)

    I had forgotten about The Human Stain, but I think you must see that’s not at all the sort of story I’m talking about. The fact the character successfully presented himself as white all his life — and was portrayed in the film by Anthony Hopkins! — is pretty much more proof of my assertion rather than any valid refutation. The character lived his entire life as white guy! That he was Creole in ways that it would take deep digging on ancestry.com to detect is a pretty poor example of the Black Experience I’m talking about, don’t you think?

    I do applaud Roth attempting that touchy subject. He’s one of America’s literary legends and has complete effortless mastery of his craft. Also goes without saying that degree of talent is so exceeding rare as to be an anomaly, wouldn’t you agree?

    I was careful to say I don’t mean white writers should be forbidden from trying. White guys can try to rap too. hey, go for it! So long as they realize Eminems are as rare as Roths.

    I don’t know any plainer way to say it. If white writers are such expert mimics of the black voice, then where are all these incredibly sensitive books about authentic black relationships they’ve written?

  171. August 22, 2011

    [julian the emperor, I patched that typo in your comment. 'cause that's the kind of mensch I am.]

  172. August 22, 2011

    [julian the emperor, I patched that typo in your comment. 'cause that's the kind of mensch I am.]

  173. K. Bowen
    August 22, 2011

    Hwo can Sasha go off last year on how ordinary and typically The King’s Speech was and then go all in on The Help?

    I haven’t seen The Help, so I shouldn’t comment, but ….

    Barf.

    I’m sure I’ll catch it sooner or later. Maybe I’ll be surprised.

  174. K. Bowen
    August 22, 2011

    Hwo can Sasha go off last year on how ordinary and typically The King’s Speech was and then go all in on The Help?

    I haven’t seen The Help, so I shouldn’t comment, but ….

    Barf.

    I’m sure I’ll catch it sooner or later. Maybe I’ll be surprised.

  175. August 22, 2011

    How can Sasha go off last year on how ordinary and typically The King’s Speech was and then go all in on The Help?

    K. Bowen, I’m going to categorize this as question as “somewhat tiresome” ok? So I’ll run interference.

    Do you see anywhere in this post where Sasha says she thinks The Help is likely to be her favorite film of 2011?

    This post offers a logical and level-headed assessment of the probability that the The Help could receive a Best Picture Oscar nomination — and because of its appeal to a large number of moviegoers, it’s easy to argue that it deserves that honor.

    I don’t think you can find anything Sasha wrote last year that says The King’s Speech didn’t deserve a BP nomination. And there were dozens of posts conceding that these feel-good tearjerker movies are right up the Academy’s alley.

  176. August 22, 2011

    How can Sasha go off last year on how ordinary and typically The King’s Speech was and then go all in on The Help?

    K. Bowen, I’m going to categorize this as question as “somewhat tiresome” ok? So I’ll run interference.

    Do you see anywhere in this post where Sasha says she thinks The Help is likely to be her favorite film of 2011?

    This post offers a logical and level-headed assessment of the probability that the The Help could receive a Best Picture Oscar nomination — and because of its appeal to a large number of moviegoers, it’s easy to argue that it deserves that honor.

    I don’t think you can find anything Sasha wrote last year that says The King’s Speech didn’t deserve a BP nomination. And there were dozens of posts conceding that these feel-good tearjerker movies are right up the Academy’s alley.

  177. amy
    August 22, 2011

    TIFF and venice will soon be here so we get to see,moneyball,and bunch of other contenders,then we can start talking about whose in or out

  178. amy
    August 22, 2011

    TIFF and venice will soon be here so we get to see,moneyball,and bunch of other contenders,then we can start talking about whose in or out

  179. James Francis McAnderson
    August 22, 2011

    Calm down everybody. Nobody is going to read your rant of Dickensian proportions anyway.

  180. James Francis McAnderson
    August 22, 2011

    Calm down everybody. Nobody is going to read your rant of Dickensian proportions anyway.

  181. harry
    August 22, 2011

    The Blind Side is a bad comparison. Fried Green Tomatoes is a better one.

  182. harry
    August 22, 2011

    The Blind Side is a bad comparison. Fried Green Tomatoes is a better one.

  183. Chance
    August 22, 2011

    This reminds me of the uproar over Dreamgirls among some in the black community.

    1. Instead of the film pretending to be an amalgamation of black lives in the music industry as the Broadway production was, it was the story of the Supremes.
    2. Jimmy Early overdosed on drugs, because apparently that’s what always happens to unhappy black people who don’t have their AHA moments.
    3. The original Broadway cast was essentially ignored (aside from Loretta Devine who appeared in the film and on the soundtrack, Obba Babatunde who was offered the role of Marty, and – if you think she counts – Diana Ross, who actually put out her feelers for a role, and this was verified).

    Jet magazine actually had a long article about it that was almost as long as the cover story, and the performers including Tony-nominees Sheryl Lee Ralph and Tony-winners Cleavant Derricks mentioned how much of their ideas and creations and efforts were scripted into the production with credit given only to Krieger and Eyen. It’s amazing. Effie was supposed to die after the first Act (once Nell Carter dropped out of production to star in Gimme A Break!) but Jennifer Holliday fought for the Act 2 resurgence (selfish reasons, sure, but that was her work, nonetheless.

    To quote: “That’s one of the sad things of being a young artist, signing a bad contract, whereas you are a creative contributor to a project like this and you share in absolutely nothing because of a bad contract and because of the kind of legal people who would take advantage of that,” Ralph told JET. “That’s terrible to me because we got ripped off for a dollar. They took everything from us. They made art into real life.”

    Reminded me of some of the arguments I’m reading here about “The Help”.

  184. Chance
    August 22, 2011

    This reminds me of the uproar over Dreamgirls among some in the black community.

    1. Instead of the film pretending to be an amalgamation of black lives in the music industry as the Broadway production was, it was the story of the Supremes.
    2. Jimmy Early overdosed on drugs, because apparently that’s what always happens to unhappy black people who don’t have their AHA moments.
    3. The original Broadway cast was essentially ignored (aside from Loretta Devine who appeared in the film and on the soundtrack, Obba Babatunde who was offered the role of Marty, and – if you think she counts – Diana Ross, who actually put out her feelers for a role, and this was verified).

    Jet magazine actually had a long article about it that was almost as long as the cover story, and the performers including Tony-nominees Sheryl Lee Ralph and Tony-winners Cleavant Derricks mentioned how much of their ideas and creations and efforts were scripted into the production with credit given only to Krieger and Eyen. It’s amazing. Effie was supposed to die after the first Act (once Nell Carter dropped out of production to star in Gimme A Break!) but Jennifer Holliday fought for the Act 2 resurgence (selfish reasons, sure, but that was her work, nonetheless.

    To quote: “That’s one of the sad things of being a young artist, signing a bad contract, whereas you are a creative contributor to a project like this and you share in absolutely nothing because of a bad contract and because of the kind of legal people who would take advantage of that,” Ralph told JET. “That’s terrible to me because we got ripped off for a dollar. They took everything from us. They made art into real life.”

    Reminded me of some of the arguments I’m reading here about “The Help”.

  185. gerd
    August 22, 2011

    So if Viola gets nominated, she will be only the second black woman in the academy’s history to collect two nominations. The other one being Whoopi who won for her second nomination in Ghost 20 years ago. Insane right!

  186. gerd
    August 22, 2011

    So if Viola gets nominated, she will be only the second black woman in the academy’s history to collect two nominations. The other one being Whoopi who won for her second nomination in Ghost 20 years ago. Insane right!

  187. August 22, 2011

    Thanks for that, gerd. I tweeted you comment.

    You’re right — Viola will be only the second actress with 2 nominations. But a twitter pal, @dialmformovies, refined the answer:

    @filmystic @AwardsDaily Technically she will be the third. Ruth E. Carter (Costume Designer nom for Malcolm X and Amistad)

  188. August 22, 2011

    Thanks for that, gerd. I tweeted you comment.

    You’re right — Viola will be only the second actress with 2 nominations. But a twitter pal, @dialmformovies, refined the answer:

    @filmystic @AwardsDaily Technically she will be the third. Ruth E. Carter (Costume Designer nom for Malcolm X and Amistad)

  189. julian the emperor
    August 23, 2011

    Ryan, maybe I should have proceeded my comment in a different way. Because I actually agree with you in almost all specifics when it comes to your comments on this touchy subject. I really do. And yes, there are very few Eminems and Roths out there.
    And besides, I wasn’t directly aiming at you when using that forbidden “moralizing” accusation. That was a general sentiment concerning a general stance that says that art has to compromise and conform to any political, societal or moral agenda. Because I think that is truly a dangerous prospect.
    What could be inferred from your refutation of white writers “getting it right” on black issues is that somehow those same writers should leave the topics aside or censor their work so that it conforms to “black standards” of approval. That is, my friend, very problematic.
    As I said, that is something you might infer from your general skepticism towards white writers dealing with black issues, but not something that I would personally accuse you of. I would never do that. I know that you are a not a “moralizing” kind of person (your writing on this page certainly give me no hints for assuming that!) I cheered your steadfast refusal to bow down to any easy condemnation of Lars Von Trier’s silly press performance in Cannes, to bring you just one example.

  190. julian the emperor
    August 23, 2011

    Ryan, maybe I should have proceeded my comment in a different way. Because I actually agree with you in almost all specifics when it comes to your comments on this touchy subject. I really do. And yes, there are very few Eminems and Roths out there.
    And besides, I wasn’t directly aiming at you when using that forbidden “moralizing” accusation. That was a general sentiment concerning a general stance that says that art has to compromise and conform to any political, societal or moral agenda. Because I think that is truly a dangerous prospect.
    What could be inferred from your refutation of white writers “getting it right” on black issues is that somehow those same writers should leave the topics aside or censor their work so that it conforms to “black standards” of approval. That is, my friend, very problematic.
    As I said, that is something you might infer from your general skepticism towards white writers dealing with black issues, but not something that I would personally accuse you of. I would never do that. I know that you are a not a “moralizing” kind of person (your writing on this page certainly give me no hints for assuming that!) I cheered your steadfast refusal to bow down to any easy condemnation of Lars Von Trier’s silly press performance in Cannes, to bring you just one example.

  191. August 23, 2011

    “your refutation of white writers “getting it right” on black issues is that somehow those same writers should leave the topics aside or censor their work so that it conforms to “black standards” of approval.”

    Not so. I don’t think any writer should be concerned about getting anyone’s “approval”

    My own concern — and I feel it very strongly in this instance — involves writers with seemingly so little regard for the sensitivities of the subjects they tackle that they hurt and disrespect large numbers of people they ostensibly care about. Just depressing to me to see the blundering clumsiness cause pain to people who go to this movie expecting and deserving better.

    I’ve seen dozens and dozens of reactions like this:

    @WendellPierce Watching the film in UptownNOLA to elderly white sniffles while mother, 80, was seething made clear distinction #thehelp

    We’re always in pretty close agreement on most topics, so it doesn’t trouble me that our opinions diverge a little today. Just that I want to make clear, I’m not talking about any kind of censorship. (How would censorship even occur? Impossible. Can anyone censor Rush Limbaugh?)

    “self-censorship”?– to me that’s just a harsh way of saying I wish writers would try to have a little “discretion” or “thoughtful consideration”

    Most of us self-censor what we say and write 100 times a day, don’t we? Those of us who don’t are often well-known assholes, right?

    Please don’t say I’m suggesting writers “censor” their work. All I’m asking is that they “refine” their work.

    They won’t. There’s nothing I can do about it. It’s not a wish that can be enforced.

    If nobody cares what large segments of the black population think, they sure as heck won’t be conforming to my desires. That won’t stop me from having those desires, or from expressing them.

    Concrete example: Had I been Kathryn Stockett’s editor, I would have a huge problem with her insistence on writing all the black dialogue in broken phonetic dialect — while all the white characters get their words spelled correctly. I would have suggested considering changing that to at least show that Southern white ladies speak with some weird pronunciations too.

    Maybe that editorial suggestion was made — hard to imagine it never came up. But if it did, it was ignored. So see, no censorship or interference took place. But I think it’s a shame — and shameful — that the author couldn’t see how odd that would look on the page, and chose to keep it anyway. Knowing full well that it would tickle white readers and offend black readers.

  192. August 23, 2011

    “your refutation of white writers “getting it right” on black issues is that somehow those same writers should leave the topics aside or censor their work so that it conforms to “black standards” of approval.”

    Not so. I don’t think any writer should be concerned about getting anyone’s “approval”

    My own concern — and I feel it very strongly in this instance — involves writers with seemingly so little regard for the sensitivities of the subjects they tackle that they hurt and disrespect large numbers of people they ostensibly care about. Just depressing to me to see the blundering clumsiness cause pain to people who go to this movie expecting and deserving better.

    I’ve seen dozens and dozens of reactions like this:

    @WendellPierce Watching the film in UptownNOLA to elderly white sniffles while mother, 80, was seething made clear distinction #thehelp

    We’re always in pretty close agreement on most topics, so it doesn’t trouble me that our opinions diverge a little today. Just that I want to make clear, I’m not talking about any kind of censorship. (How would censorship even occur? Impossible. Can anyone censor Rush Limbaugh?)

    “self-censorship”?– to me that’s just a harsh way of saying I wish writers would try to have a little “discretion” or “thoughtful consideration”

    Most of us self-censor what we say and write 100 times a day, don’t we? Those of us who don’t are often well-known assholes, right?

    Please don’t say I’m suggesting writers “censor” their work. All I’m asking is that they “refine” their work.

    They won’t. There’s nothing I can do about it. It’s not a wish that can be enforced.

    If nobody cares what large segments of the black population think, they sure as heck won’t be conforming to my desires. That won’t stop me from having those desires, or from expressing them.

    Concrete example: Had I been Kathryn Stockett’s editor, I would have a huge problem with her insistence on writing all the black dialogue in broken phonetic dialect — while all the white characters get their words spelled correctly. I would have suggested considering changing that to at least show that Southern white ladies speak with some weird pronunciations too.

    Maybe that editorial suggestion was made — hard to imagine it never came up. But if it did, it was ignored. So see, no censorship or interference took place. But I think it’s a shame — and shameful — that the author couldn’t see how odd that would look on the page, and chose to keep it anyway. Knowing full well that it would tickle white readers and offend black readers.

  193. phantom
    August 23, 2011

    Ryan Adams

    The Help’s costume designer, Sharen Davis is also a two-time Academy Award nominee, she got the nods for Dreamgirls and Ray…and could get her third for ‘The Help’.

    So Viola Davis could be the fourth African-American woman and the second African-American actress to get two (or more) Oscar nominations.

    And if Jennifer Hudson’s Winnie turns out to be good, who knows, there could be the third African-American actress with two nominations this year, too. Although the trailer was bad in my opinion, the role is rather ‘Oscary’.

  194. phantom
    August 23, 2011

    Ryan Adams

    The Help’s costume designer, Sharen Davis is also a two-time Academy Award nominee, she got the nods for Dreamgirls and Ray…and could get her third for ‘The Help’.

    So Viola Davis could be the fourth African-American woman and the second African-American actress to get two (or more) Oscar nominations.

    And if Jennifer Hudson’s Winnie turns out to be good, who knows, there could be the third African-American actress with two nominations this year, too. Although the trailer was bad in my opinion, the role is rather ‘Oscary’.

  195. julian the emperor
    August 23, 2011

    Your distinction between self-censorship and “thoughtful discretion” is ok in practice, I guess (and most authors would certainly benefit from what you refer to as “thoughtful discretion”, not least in the concrete example you mention), but in theory I think it is a difficult double standard to uphold. As I have been saying repeatedly, you cannot make that kind of claims on behalf of artistic utterances. They don’t belong in the same domains, so to speak. With regards to a standard of “thoughtful discretion” many, I repeat MANY, of the greatest artistic triumphs of mankind would never have been realized. I mean, Madame Bovary, just to name an example, is an artistic triumph through and through, but it is not exactly “thoughtful” or “discrete” when applied to the values and norms of 19th century France, is it?
    So what I’m saying is this: art should never try to conform in principle, in practice, yes, I agree with you on a concrete example like Kathryn Stockett.

  196. julian the emperor
    August 23, 2011

    Your distinction between self-censorship and “thoughtful discretion” is ok in practice, I guess (and most authors would certainly benefit from what you refer to as “thoughtful discretion”, not least in the concrete example you mention), but in theory I think it is a difficult double standard to uphold. As I have been saying repeatedly, you cannot make that kind of claims on behalf of artistic utterances. They don’t belong in the same domains, so to speak. With regards to a standard of “thoughtful discretion” many, I repeat MANY, of the greatest artistic triumphs of mankind would never have been realized. I mean, Madame Bovary, just to name an example, is an artistic triumph through and through, but it is not exactly “thoughtful” or “discrete” when applied to the values and norms of 19th century France, is it?
    So what I’m saying is this: art should never try to conform in principle, in practice, yes, I agree with you on a concrete example like Kathryn Stockett.

  197. August 23, 2011

    julian the emperor, I do absolutely see what you’re saying.

    I know it’s a strange attitude for me to take: Frustration that a writer isn’t as talented or sensitive as I think she needs to be. I wouldn’t be bothered if she wrote about something less important, right?

    It’s just disappointment, I think. Can we call it that? Disappointed that this is the kind of book that becomes a bestseller, and disappointed the movie didn’t do anything (in my view) to elevate it.

    But the book has touched millions of people and the movie has touched millions more. That’s wonderful — for all those millions of folks. The other grousing thousands of us will get over it.

    My biggest concern: I can’t help feeling that it hurts very the cause it seeks to help. Because it teaches a lot of wrong lessons, and the lesson itself is too important to muddle up.

  198. August 23, 2011

    julian the emperor, I do absolutely see what you’re saying.

    I know it’s a strange attitude for me to take: Frustration that a writer isn’t as talented or sensitive as I think she needs to be. I wouldn’t be bothered if she wrote about something less important, right?

    It’s just disappointment, I think. Can we call it that? Disappointed that this is the kind of book that becomes a bestseller, and disappointed the movie didn’t do anything (in my view) to elevate it.

    But the book has touched millions of people and the movie has touched millions more. That’s wonderful — for all those millions of folks. The other grousing thousands of us will get over it.

    My biggest concern: I can’t help feeling that it hurts very the cause it seeks to help. Because it teaches a lot of wrong lessons, and the lesson itself is too important to muddle up.

  199. amy
    August 23, 2011

    The International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI) grants its Grand Prix for Best Film of the year to TERRENCE MALICK’S THE TREE OF LIFE. The prize is the result of a vote by 205 critics across the world, all members of FIPRESCI on any feature-length film from the previous 12 months. The prize will be presented at the opening gala of San Sebastian Festival’s 59th edition on September 16th at the Kursaal Auditorium.
    Tiff schedules are out ,wow the help has loads of hype from awardsdaily

  200. amy
    August 23, 2011

    The International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI) grants its Grand Prix for Best Film of the year to TERRENCE MALICK’S THE TREE OF LIFE. The prize is the result of a vote by 205 critics across the world, all members of FIPRESCI on any feature-length film from the previous 12 months. The prize will be presented at the opening gala of San Sebastian Festival’s 59th edition on September 16th at the Kursaal Auditorium.
    Tiff schedules are out ,wow the help has loads of hype from awardsdaily

  201. john
    August 23, 2011

    I loved the movie. WhatI enjoyed most about it was that I’ve never seen a movie from the point of view of the Black maid from the South. That’s an interesting character, certianly a taboo character, and to see a movie which got me relating to and cheering for that character was a unique film experience. THE LONG WALK HOME with Whoopi Goldberg was pretty good back in 1990, but that movie did have anywhere near the emotional connection that this picture did.

    Of course, being a white male, I cannot speak to how this film would play to the African-American community beyond my own observation of the audience with which I saw it. About 40% were Black, everyone seemed to like the movie.

    Some of the complaints about the movie I understand, although I don’t personally find troubling… Why do movies dealing with the experiences of non-Whites always have a White person in the main role? OK, I see the gripe, but in this case, it is actually essential to the story (it’s about a Black maid explaining her experiences to a White person on the other side of the tracks… that sort fo requires that the Emma Stone
    be White.)… The style of speech is stereotypical (“You is smart, you is important”). That didn’t seem too beyond my experience living in the south of blue-collar speech, but any movie like this is going to be dealing with a landmine in that regard. I haven;t read the book, and it seems that the speech in there is really what people are attacking. I don;t think problems people have with the book should be used in attacking the picture… The movie takes an abominable wrong in our nation’s history and turns it into a feel-good pablum for the masses.Again, I see the complaint, but here’s a hugely popular movie that will reach millions of people and can foster dialog about this portion of our nation’s history and that is what should happen, not an excoriating of the movie because it doesn;t match up with certain people’s views of how such history should be represented… Kathryn Stockett ripped off her maid. Wel, I personally don;t know both sides of this backstory, so I can;t speak to it, but I don’t usually judge a work of art upon its backstory, just the work of art itself. and in this case, the work of art is extraordinary.

    BUT SOME OF THESE ATTACKS OF THE MOVIE ARE PREPOSTEROUS!!!! The most ridiculous one is that the movie perpetuates stereotypes about Black maids of the time/presents Blacks in a stereotypical manner. this is patently ridiculous. Abileen and Minnie are three-dimensional, well-rounded characters whose hopes, dreams, foibles, flaws, etc. we come to know intimately by the end of the movie. that’s actually the point of the movie is to take a character that we’ve always seen presented in a sterotypical fashion and show what the actual people who filled that role were like as three-dimensional human beings. The movie does that, it does it extraordinarily well, and that’s why the two actresses who got those parts are being touted for the Oscars and could well win.

    Why aren’t the critics (not the ones who just didn;t like it, but those who think it is patently offensive) going after Viola Davis? Instead what I seem to hear is “the movie perpetuates sterotypes, but viola Davis is wonderful”. If the movie is so patently offensive (and I can;t understand why because I’m white, apparently), why praise Viola Davis? She’s an intelligent woman, a major Black actress, an Oscar nominee… she could have turned the role down. If the movie is so offensive, why praise the person whose presence in the picture lends it a great deal of its legitimacy? I would contend that the critics want to have their cake and eat it, too. Same thing we heard with DRIVING MISS DAISY… “it’s a stereotypical portrayal of African-Americans, but Morgan Freeman is wonderful”. You know, viola and morgan are two of my favorite actors, I’ve never seen them give a sterotypical portrayal of anything.

    I also don;t buy the “Great White hope” argument. this is supposedly an offensive movie because it’s about a White person swooping down to save all the Black people. Uh, no. The catalyst of the movie’s events is white, sure, but really that is necessary for story purposes (the character in the position to write this and have it published would liely be White. Also, the collaboratioon of a White girl with the Black maids is what is causing all the tension in the story, raising the stakes, giving the characters the necesary sense of danger to make a compelling story). A lot of the irony of the movie is that the inexperienced Skeeter sor tof doesn’t know what she’s getting into while Abileen and Minnie know exactly what could happen them if they put their lives int he hands of this girl. Also, while Skeeter stands to gain with little to lose, Abileen and Minnie have little tangibly to gain and everything to lose, which gives their characters quite a bit of moral weight.

    Ultimately, it’s a terrific picture. I don’t see that it trivialises anything, but people are free to disagree, of course. However, when the movie is attacked as blatantly offensive and no right-thinking person could disagree with that… well, then that just inspires people like me togo and see it. I never would have had any interest in this picture if it hadn’t stirred up controversy. So to those of you who seek to attack the movie for being so offensive… thanks! Loved it! wouldn’t have seen it if it weren’t for you!

  202. john
    August 23, 2011

    I loved the movie. WhatI enjoyed most about it was that I’ve never seen a movie from the point of view of the Black maid from the South. That’s an interesting character, certianly a taboo character, and to see a movie which got me relating to and cheering for that character was a unique film experience. THE LONG WALK HOME with Whoopi Goldberg was pretty good back in 1990, but that movie did have anywhere near the emotional connection that this picture did.

    Of course, being a white male, I cannot speak to how this film would play to the African-American community beyond my own observation of the audience with which I saw it. About 40% were Black, everyone seemed to like the movie.

    Some of the complaints about the movie I understand, although I don’t personally find troubling… Why do movies dealing with the experiences of non-Whites always have a White person in the main role? OK, I see the gripe, but in this case, it is actually essential to the story (it’s about a Black maid explaining her experiences to a White person on the other side of the tracks… that sort fo requires that the Emma Stone
    be White.)… The style of speech is stereotypical (“You is smart, you is important”). That didn’t seem too beyond my experience living in the south of blue-collar speech, but any movie like this is going to be dealing with a landmine in that regard. I haven;t read the book, and it seems that the speech in there is really what people are attacking. I don;t think problems people have with the book should be used in attacking the picture… The movie takes an abominable wrong in our nation’s history and turns it into a feel-good pablum for the masses.Again, I see the complaint, but here’s a hugely popular movie that will reach millions of people and can foster dialog about this portion of our nation’s history and that is what should happen, not an excoriating of the movie because it doesn;t match up with certain people’s views of how such history should be represented… Kathryn Stockett ripped off her maid. Wel, I personally don;t know both sides of this backstory, so I can;t speak to it, but I don’t usually judge a work of art upon its backstory, just the work of art itself. and in this case, the work of art is extraordinary.

    BUT SOME OF THESE ATTACKS OF THE MOVIE ARE PREPOSTEROUS!!!! The most ridiculous one is that the movie perpetuates stereotypes about Black maids of the time/presents Blacks in a stereotypical manner. this is patently ridiculous. Abileen and Minnie are three-dimensional, well-rounded characters whose hopes, dreams, foibles, flaws, etc. we come to know intimately by the end of the movie. that’s actually the point of the movie is to take a character that we’ve always seen presented in a sterotypical fashion and show what the actual people who filled that role were like as three-dimensional human beings. The movie does that, it does it extraordinarily well, and that’s why the two actresses who got those parts are being touted for the Oscars and could well win.

    Why aren’t the critics (not the ones who just didn;t like it, but those who think it is patently offensive) going after Viola Davis? Instead what I seem to hear is “the movie perpetuates sterotypes, but viola Davis is wonderful”. If the movie is so patently offensive (and I can;t understand why because I’m white, apparently), why praise Viola Davis? She’s an intelligent woman, a major Black actress, an Oscar nominee… she could have turned the role down. If the movie is so offensive, why praise the person whose presence in the picture lends it a great deal of its legitimacy? I would contend that the critics want to have their cake and eat it, too. Same thing we heard with DRIVING MISS DAISY… “it’s a stereotypical portrayal of African-Americans, but Morgan Freeman is wonderful”. You know, viola and morgan are two of my favorite actors, I’ve never seen them give a sterotypical portrayal of anything.

    I also don;t buy the “Great White hope” argument. this is supposedly an offensive movie because it’s about a White person swooping down to save all the Black people. Uh, no. The catalyst of the movie’s events is white, sure, but really that is necessary for story purposes (the character in the position to write this and have it published would liely be White. Also, the collaboratioon of a White girl with the Black maids is what is causing all the tension in the story, raising the stakes, giving the characters the necesary sense of danger to make a compelling story). A lot of the irony of the movie is that the inexperienced Skeeter sor tof doesn’t know what she’s getting into while Abileen and Minnie know exactly what could happen them if they put their lives int he hands of this girl. Also, while Skeeter stands to gain with little to lose, Abileen and Minnie have little tangibly to gain and everything to lose, which gives their characters quite a bit of moral weight.

    Ultimately, it’s a terrific picture. I don’t see that it trivialises anything, but people are free to disagree, of course. However, when the movie is attacked as blatantly offensive and no right-thinking person could disagree with that… well, then that just inspires people like me togo and see it. I never would have had any interest in this picture if it hadn’t stirred up controversy. So to those of you who seek to attack the movie for being so offensive… thanks! Loved it! wouldn’t have seen it if it weren’t for you!

  203. phantom
    August 23, 2011

    amy

    “wow the help has loads of hype from awardsdaily”

    To be fair, when a relatively low-budgeted period drama makes 20M and takes No1 on its second weekend beating out openers like the sequel of a rather succesful franchise (Spy Kids), a big-budgeted action adventure (Conan), and a remarkably audience-friendly horror remake (Fright Night), THAT deserves an article, doesn’t it ? And it wasn’t even close, the No2 went to another holdover (and another AD-fave) …

  204. phantom
    August 23, 2011

    amy

    “wow the help has loads of hype from awardsdaily”

    To be fair, when a relatively low-budgeted period drama makes 20M and takes No1 on its second weekend beating out openers like the sequel of a rather succesful franchise (Spy Kids), a big-budgeted action adventure (Conan), and a remarkably audience-friendly horror remake (Fright Night), THAT deserves an article, doesn’t it ? And it wasn’t even close, the No2 went to another holdover (and another AD-fave) …

  205. julian the emperor
    August 23, 2011

    ryan, I understand your frustration! And yes, it is indeed tedious to have to live with all the talentless art that is produced every single day in all corners of the world. I think we have reached a full agreement on this particular matter, though. Over and out (until next time, obviously;))

  206. julian the emperor
    August 23, 2011

    ryan, I understand your frustration! And yes, it is indeed tedious to have to live with all the talentless art that is produced every single day in all corners of the world. I think we have reached a full agreement on this particular matter, though. Over and out (until next time, obviously;))

  207. T
    August 23, 2011

    As a concerned viewer, I decided to share some people’s thoughts on this controversial film that reflect what many outraged people feel as to why The Help should not be in contention for Best Picture.

    Janson J. on 08-22-2011 06:49 PM
    Nevermind the factual inaccuracies in The Help, or the attempt to credit the Civil Rights movement on “sisterly bonding”, or the fact that the author never paid her own Help for appropriating the story about the Viola-character’s child’s death. It’s the perfect film for idiots who actually bought the “post-racial” illusion. Try reading some of the borderline racist responses to the film’s black critics like Melissa Harris-Perry and Nelson George. Say, why aren’t they doing dishes?!?

    I’m hoping the poor showings for “Conan” and “Fright Night” is as much a repudiation of the current marketing strategy in Hollywood. No familiar, or too cynical to find out? The final confirmation for what we’ve all feared was in this story at the Onion. Very few other entertainment sites seemed to notice.

  208. T
    August 23, 2011

    As a concerned viewer, I decided to share some people’s thoughts on this controversial film that reflect what many outraged people feel as to why The Help should not be in contention for Best Picture.

    Janson J. on 08-22-2011 06:49 PM
    Nevermind the factual inaccuracies in The Help, or the attempt to credit the Civil Rights movement on “sisterly bonding”, or the fact that the author never paid her own Help for appropriating the story about the Viola-character’s child’s death. It’s the perfect film for idiots who actually bought the “post-racial” illusion. Try reading some of the borderline racist responses to the film’s black critics like Melissa Harris-Perry and Nelson George. Say, why aren’t they doing dishes?!?

    I’m hoping the poor showings for “Conan” and “Fright Night” is as much a repudiation of the current marketing strategy in Hollywood. No familiar, or too cynical to find out? The final confirmation for what we’ve all feared was in this story at the Onion. Very few other entertainment sites seemed to notice.

  209. T
    August 23, 2011

    Janson J. on 08-22-2011 06:32 PM
    Have mercy! Driving Miss Skeeter over here. I’m not hating on the African American essence of these movies, only the movies that treat African Americans like pets, then act like the master “learning” the value of humanity is equal to the courage of the “help” in asserting their dignity. Feel Good Samaritan BS. Anyone doing a Fannie Lou Hamer movie? (Who? Exactly my point….)
    3 Replies |Reply

    King David on 08-22-2011 06:57 PM
    I agree with most of what you have laid out but this is a tough topic. I supported it because of the lesser known actresses in it who I believe are deserving of the attention in a surprise hit. The movie content was some what taboo but it’s either this or the other taboo.

    Janson J. on 08-22-2011 07:34 PM
    Ha. “Somewhat taboo”. Right. Because my problem with the film was it was TOO radical? It wasn’t taboo enough. It didn’t deal with the white groups who followed harassed and killed those who tried to do what Skeeter pulled off. It doesn’t deal with the assumption that somebody else’s mother should raise your own kids (while they have their own kids to raise). It doesn’t deal with who was responsible for the ingrained, systemic segregation, why it was implemented, why it was taken for granted. In short, it says very little about why civil rights were necessary. It does pretend that with a time machine, some liberal ladies today could go back and do some good. The film’s “supporters” (rather than “fans”, which tells you something) claim it opens up a new avenue for the race-relations conversation in America, and then duly shut it down when they don’t like what they hear. “I’m tired of talking about it”, which is your right, but doesn’t make you right. I’ve seen similar comments from the film’s supporters, more concerned with disarming dissent than in defending the film. It deals with important issues of race in America, but point out the historical flaws and they say, hey, it’s just fictional entertainment. Can’t have it both ways. As entertainment, I hope Viola Davies gets that gold. I hope Octavia Spencer gets nominated. But Best Picture? The probability of this is scary enough, but it certainly won’t deserve it.

    King David on 08-23-2011 01:07 AM
    Movies that move to deeply in America’s true DARK past just do not do good during Oscar season. The movie did not touch on any of the true struggles these women endured during that time which to me is not really acceptable, but I can see why they stayed away from the real problems of that decade ( which have been slightly touched on in other movies). I’m by no means saying that is acceptable, it was a cop out but it would not have been marketed to a wide audience if it had been that real. I’m just glad the movie is doing good even though it only brushed the surface, an although very little discussion can occur because of this movie maybe it can open the door for other movies with a deeper analysis of this subject matter to touch a broader audience with a good Box office draw. If people are truly ready to talk about these topics.
    Reply

    Gordon Franklin Terry Sr on 08-23-2011 10:50 AM
    I KNOW . . . overly-sentimental and apologist; however “teary-eyed” boo-hoo-hooooooo movies that say “I’m sorry for the past, foregive me,” win awards . . . because . . . they PLAY OUR emotions like piano keys. or “push our buttons” like Hammond Organs.

  210. T
    August 23, 2011

    Janson J. on 08-22-2011 06:32 PM
    Have mercy! Driving Miss Skeeter over here. I’m not hating on the African American essence of these movies, only the movies that treat African Americans like pets, then act like the master “learning” the value of humanity is equal to the courage of the “help” in asserting their dignity. Feel Good Samaritan BS. Anyone doing a Fannie Lou Hamer movie? (Who? Exactly my point….)
    3 Replies |Reply

    King David on 08-22-2011 06:57 PM
    I agree with most of what you have laid out but this is a tough topic. I supported it because of the lesser known actresses in it who I believe are deserving of the attention in a surprise hit. The movie content was some what taboo but it’s either this or the other taboo.

    Janson J. on 08-22-2011 07:34 PM
    Ha. “Somewhat taboo”. Right. Because my problem with the film was it was TOO radical? It wasn’t taboo enough. It didn’t deal with the white groups who followed harassed and killed those who tried to do what Skeeter pulled off. It doesn’t deal with the assumption that somebody else’s mother should raise your own kids (while they have their own kids to raise). It doesn’t deal with who was responsible for the ingrained, systemic segregation, why it was implemented, why it was taken for granted. In short, it says very little about why civil rights were necessary. It does pretend that with a time machine, some liberal ladies today could go back and do some good. The film’s “supporters” (rather than “fans”, which tells you something) claim it opens up a new avenue for the race-relations conversation in America, and then duly shut it down when they don’t like what they hear. “I’m tired of talking about it”, which is your right, but doesn’t make you right. I’ve seen similar comments from the film’s supporters, more concerned with disarming dissent than in defending the film. It deals with important issues of race in America, but point out the historical flaws and they say, hey, it’s just fictional entertainment. Can’t have it both ways. As entertainment, I hope Viola Davies gets that gold. I hope Octavia Spencer gets nominated. But Best Picture? The probability of this is scary enough, but it certainly won’t deserve it.

    King David on 08-23-2011 01:07 AM
    Movies that move to deeply in America’s true DARK past just do not do good during Oscar season. The movie did not touch on any of the true struggles these women endured during that time which to me is not really acceptable, but I can see why they stayed away from the real problems of that decade ( which have been slightly touched on in other movies). I’m by no means saying that is acceptable, it was a cop out but it would not have been marketed to a wide audience if it had been that real. I’m just glad the movie is doing good even though it only brushed the surface, an although very little discussion can occur because of this movie maybe it can open the door for other movies with a deeper analysis of this subject matter to touch a broader audience with a good Box office draw. If people are truly ready to talk about these topics.
    Reply

    Gordon Franklin Terry Sr on 08-23-2011 10:50 AM
    I KNOW . . . overly-sentimental and apologist; however “teary-eyed” boo-hoo-hooooooo movies that say “I’m sorry for the past, foregive me,” win awards . . . because . . . they PLAY OUR emotions like piano keys. or “push our buttons” like Hammond Organs.

  211. T
    August 23, 2011

    Recently, Ida E. Jones, the National Director of the Association of Black Women Historians penned an open letter hoping to add a bit of historical context to The Help. Her letter is not only eye-opening, but adds even more depth to the issues tackled in the film.

    Read Ida E. Jones’ open letter about The Help.

    An Open Statement to the Fans of The Help:

    On behalf of the Association of Black Women Historians (ABWH), this statement provides historical context to address widespread stereotyping presented in both the film and novel version of The Help. The book has sold over three million copies, and heavy promotion of the movie will ensure its success at the box office. Despite efforts to market the book and the film as a progressive story of triumph over racial injustice, The Help distorts, ignores, and trivializes the experiences of black domestic workers. We are specifically concerned about the representations of black life and the lack of attention given to sexual harassment and civil rights activism.

    During the 1960s, the era covered in The Help, legal segregation and economic inequalities limited black women’s employment opportunities. Up to 90 per cent of working black women in the South labored as domestic servants in white homes. The Help’s representation of these women is a disappointing resurrection of Mammy—a mythical stereotype of black women who were compelled, either by slavery or segregation, to serve white families. Portrayed as asexual, loyal, and contented caretakers of whites, the caricature of Mammy allowed mainstream America to ignore the systemic racism that bound black women to back-breaking, low paying jobs where employers routinely exploited them. The popularity of this most recent iteration is troubling because it reveals a contemporary nostalgia for the days when a black woman could only hope to clean the White House rather than reside in it.

    Both versions of The Help also misrepresent African American speech and culture. Set in the South, the appropriate regional accent gives way to a child-like, over-exaggerated “black” dialect. In the film, for example, the primary character, Aibileen, reassures a young white child that, “You is smat, you is kind, you is important.” In the book, black women refer to the Lord as the “Law,” an irreverent depiction of black vernacular. For centuries, black women and men have drawn strength from their community institutions. The black family, in particular provided support and the validation of personhood necessary to stand against adversity. We do not recognize the black community described in The Help where most of the black male characters are depicted as drunkards, abusive, or absent. Such distorted images are misleading and do not represent the historical realities of black masculinity and manhood.

    Furthermore, African American domestic workers often suffered sexual harassment as well as physical and verbal abuse in the homes of white employers. For example, a recently discovered letter written by Civil Rights activist Rosa Parks indicates that she, like many black domestic workers, lived under the threat and sometimes reality of sexual assault. The film, on the other hand, makes light of black women’s fears and vulnerabilities turning them into moments of comic relief.

    Similarly, the film is woefully silent on the rich and vibrant history of black Civil Rights activists in Mississippi. Granted, the assassination of Medgar Evers, the first Mississippi based field secretary of the NAACP, gets some attention. However, Evers’ assassination sends Jackson’s black community frantically scurrying into the streets in utter chaos and disorganized confusion—a far cry from the courage demonstrated by the black men and women who continued his fight. Portraying the most dangerous racists in 1960s Mississippi as a group of attractive, well dressed, society women, while ignoring the reign of terror perpetuated by the Ku Klux Klan and the White Citizens Council, limits racial injustice to individual acts of meanness.

    We respect the stellar performances of the African American actresses in this film. Indeed, this statement is in no way a criticism of their talent. It is, however, an attempt to provide context for this popular rendition of black life in the Jim Crow South. In the end, The Help is not a story about the millions of hardworking and dignified black women who labored in white homes to support their families and communities. Rather, it is the coming-of-age story of a white protagonist, who uses myths about the lives of black women to make sense of her own. The Association of Black Women Historians finds it unacceptable for either this book or this film to strip black women’s lives of historical accuracy for the sake of entertainment.

  212. T
    August 23, 2011

    Recently, Ida E. Jones, the National Director of the Association of Black Women Historians penned an open letter hoping to add a bit of historical context to The Help. Her letter is not only eye-opening, but adds even more depth to the issues tackled in the film.

    Read Ida E. Jones’ open letter about The Help.

    An Open Statement to the Fans of The Help:

    On behalf of the Association of Black Women Historians (ABWH), this statement provides historical context to address widespread stereotyping presented in both the film and novel version of The Help. The book has sold over three million copies, and heavy promotion of the movie will ensure its success at the box office. Despite efforts to market the book and the film as a progressive story of triumph over racial injustice, The Help distorts, ignores, and trivializes the experiences of black domestic workers. We are specifically concerned about the representations of black life and the lack of attention given to sexual harassment and civil rights activism.

    During the 1960s, the era covered in The Help, legal segregation and economic inequalities limited black women’s employment opportunities. Up to 90 per cent of working black women in the South labored as domestic servants in white homes. The Help’s representation of these women is a disappointing resurrection of Mammy—a mythical stereotype of black women who were compelled, either by slavery or segregation, to serve white families. Portrayed as asexual, loyal, and contented caretakers of whites, the caricature of Mammy allowed mainstream America to ignore the systemic racism that bound black women to back-breaking, low paying jobs where employers routinely exploited them. The popularity of this most recent iteration is troubling because it reveals a contemporary nostalgia for the days when a black woman could only hope to clean the White House rather than reside in it.

    Both versions of The Help also misrepresent African American speech and culture. Set in the South, the appropriate regional accent gives way to a child-like, over-exaggerated “black” dialect. In the film, for example, the primary character, Aibileen, reassures a young white child that, “You is smat, you is kind, you is important.” In the book, black women refer to the Lord as the “Law,” an irreverent depiction of black vernacular. For centuries, black women and men have drawn strength from their community institutions. The black family, in particular provided support and the validation of personhood necessary to stand against adversity. We do not recognize the black community described in The Help where most of the black male characters are depicted as drunkards, abusive, or absent. Such distorted images are misleading and do not represent the historical realities of black masculinity and manhood.

    Furthermore, African American domestic workers often suffered sexual harassment as well as physical and verbal abuse in the homes of white employers. For example, a recently discovered letter written by Civil Rights activist Rosa Parks indicates that she, like many black domestic workers, lived under the threat and sometimes reality of sexual assault. The film, on the other hand, makes light of black women’s fears and vulnerabilities turning them into moments of comic relief.

    Similarly, the film is woefully silent on the rich and vibrant history of black Civil Rights activists in Mississippi. Granted, the assassination of Medgar Evers, the first Mississippi based field secretary of the NAACP, gets some attention. However, Evers’ assassination sends Jackson’s black community frantically scurrying into the streets in utter chaos and disorganized confusion—a far cry from the courage demonstrated by the black men and women who continued his fight. Portraying the most dangerous racists in 1960s Mississippi as a group of attractive, well dressed, society women, while ignoring the reign of terror perpetuated by the Ku Klux Klan and the White Citizens Council, limits racial injustice to individual acts of meanness.

    We respect the stellar performances of the African American actresses in this film. Indeed, this statement is in no way a criticism of their talent. It is, however, an attempt to provide context for this popular rendition of black life in the Jim Crow South. In the end, The Help is not a story about the millions of hardworking and dignified black women who labored in white homes to support their families and communities. Rather, it is the coming-of-age story of a white protagonist, who uses myths about the lives of black women to make sense of her own. The Association of Black Women Historians finds it unacceptable for either this book or this film to strip black women’s lives of historical accuracy for the sake of entertainment.

  213. T
    August 23, 2011

    DH

    August 17, 2011 at 11:06 pm

    To add insult to injury, the lawsuit filed by the real life Abilene against the author of “The Help” for the use of her likeness in the movie has been thrown out. She was only asking for $75,000. Any writer with a hint of sense knows that you always change names.
    Abilene is a rare and unique name, and she was the housekeeper for the filmmaker’s family, who was a childhood friend of the author- who admits to meeting the real life Abilene once or twice during childhood. The author will make millions from both the film and the book, yet she can’t fathom paying $75,000 for the unlawful use of someone’s image.

  214. T
    August 23, 2011

    DH

    August 17, 2011 at 11:06 pm

    To add insult to injury, the lawsuit filed by the real life Abilene against the author of “The Help” for the use of her likeness in the movie has been thrown out. She was only asking for $75,000. Any writer with a hint of sense knows that you always change names.
    Abilene is a rare and unique name, and she was the housekeeper for the filmmaker’s family, who was a childhood friend of the author- who admits to meeting the real life Abilene once or twice during childhood. The author will make millions from both the film and the book, yet she can’t fathom paying $75,000 for the unlawful use of someone’s image.

  215. T
    August 23, 2011

    Sunshine

    August 13, 2011 at 4:47 pm

    “AND she gives the black female characters some dignity? WOW. We are the women of the night, we must be special”

    Actually, she doesn’t give them any dignity at all. The author is audacious enough to have a black character compare her skin color to a cockroach. Funny, when I read all the supportive comments from the book and movie’s many fans they ALWAYS neglect to mention that scene. I’m sure it’s not in the movie, though. That would’ve unveiled Ms. Stockett’s true agenda to subjugate black women and portray us as Mammies that are “asexual, loyal, and contented caretakers of whites”. Sure it’s her perspective, no argument there. My question is why would ANY black woman in her right mind support that perspective? SMDH at all the ignorance I’ve read in this comment section. We have definitely failed our youth in passing down our black history and experiences. If you want to educate yourself on the book’s message, take the time to visit this website-

    http://acriticalreviewofthehelp.wordpress.com/

  216. T
    August 23, 2011

    Sunshine

    August 13, 2011 at 4:47 pm

    “AND she gives the black female characters some dignity? WOW. We are the women of the night, we must be special”

    Actually, she doesn’t give them any dignity at all. The author is audacious enough to have a black character compare her skin color to a cockroach. Funny, when I read all the supportive comments from the book and movie’s many fans they ALWAYS neglect to mention that scene. I’m sure it’s not in the movie, though. That would’ve unveiled Ms. Stockett’s true agenda to subjugate black women and portray us as Mammies that are “asexual, loyal, and contented caretakers of whites”. Sure it’s her perspective, no argument there. My question is why would ANY black woman in her right mind support that perspective? SMDH at all the ignorance I’ve read in this comment section. We have definitely failed our youth in passing down our black history and experiences. If you want to educate yourself on the book’s message, take the time to visit this website-

    http://acriticalreviewofthehelp.wordpress.com/

  217. T
    August 23, 2011

    Clayton Perry

    August 11, 2011 at 5:07 pm

    The ABWH notes that “[up to 90 per cent of working black women in the South labored as domestic servants in white homes." If this is the case, then why not condemn the fact that it has taken decades to get a depiction of the black, Southern, female experience on-screen? I'm just at a loss of words. The attack seems to target the wrong people: Kathryn Stockett, Tate Taylor and the cast of "The Help."

    Also, why is the film being labeled a "feel-good" story? Even though Aibileen, Minny and Skeeter are friends, they know the present world will not accept their friendship. (This is why Aibileen and Minny tell Skeeter to leave Jackson, since she has no future in Jackson due to her book's publication.) During the end credits, Aibileen walks off into the sunset - after being fired from her first job, an emotional departure from her "baby" Mae, a threat of being reported to the police, no sure plans for the future and an empty home to lay her head.

    As far as the concerns cited:

    "...silent on the rich and vibrant history of black Civil Rights activists in Mississippi?" (I can't remember the last time Hollywood even made mention of Medgar Evers, let alone the White Citizens Council.)

    "...most of the black ma...le characters are depicted as drunkards, abusive, or absent?" (The men depicted on-screen were far from sloths! Aibileen's son was hard-working, yet killed at work. And finances willing, Yule Mae's two sons are college-bound.)

    "...[no] depictions of sexual harassment? “(Hilly started the Home Help Sanitation Initiative, because she believe diseased would be spread BY the help INTO the household.)

    “…a contemporary nostalgia for the days when a black woman could only hope to clean the White House rather than reside in it?” (Did we read the same book, or watch the same film? The maids hoped for better, their situation dictated otherwise. Yule Mae was CRUSHED when Hilly did not grant her “loan” request, which ultimately led to her arrest. Minny constantly gave her employers have a piece of her mind. Why else would she have had 19 jobs – and such difficulty keeping work?)

  218. T
    August 23, 2011

    Clayton Perry

    August 11, 2011 at 5:07 pm

    The ABWH notes that “[up to 90 per cent of working black women in the South labored as domestic servants in white homes." If this is the case, then why not condemn the fact that it has taken decades to get a depiction of the black, Southern, female experience on-screen? I'm just at a loss of words. The attack seems to target the wrong people: Kathryn Stockett, Tate Taylor and the cast of "The Help."

    Also, why is the film being labeled a "feel-good" story? Even though Aibileen, Minny and Skeeter are friends, they know the present world will not accept their friendship. (This is why Aibileen and Minny tell Skeeter to leave Jackson, since she has no future in Jackson due to her book's publication.) During the end credits, Aibileen walks off into the sunset - after being fired from her first job, an emotional departure from her "baby" Mae, a threat of being reported to the police, no sure plans for the future and an empty home to lay her head.

    As far as the concerns cited:

    "...silent on the rich and vibrant history of black Civil Rights activists in Mississippi?" (I can't remember the last time Hollywood even made mention of Medgar Evers, let alone the White Citizens Council.)

    "...most of the black ma...le characters are depicted as drunkards, abusive, or absent?" (The men depicted on-screen were far from sloths! Aibileen's son was hard-working, yet killed at work. And finances willing, Yule Mae's two sons are college-bound.)

    "...[no] depictions of sexual harassment? “(Hilly started the Home Help Sanitation Initiative, because she believe diseased would be spread BY the help INTO the household.)

    “…a contemporary nostalgia for the days when a black woman could only hope to clean the White House rather than reside in it?” (Did we read the same book, or watch the same film? The maids hoped for better, their situation dictated otherwise. Yule Mae was CRUSHED when Hilly did not grant her “loan” request, which ultimately led to her arrest. Minny constantly gave her employers have a piece of her mind. Why else would she have had 19 jobs – and such difficulty keeping work?)

  219. August 23, 2011

    Tory, are you on Twitter?

  220. August 23, 2011

    Tory, are you on Twitter?

  221. smithee dee
    August 25, 2011

    @T:
    “To add insult to injury, the lawsuit filed by the real life Abilene against the author of “The Help” for the use of her likeness in the movie has been thrown out. She was only asking for $75,000. Any writer with a hint of sense knows that you always change names.”
    ” Conjecture: Obviously you know nothing about the law. but we won’t go into that. let’s start w/ the “obvious.” If the author had truly written about this woman, she would’ve changed the name.

    “Abilene is a rare and unique name, and she was the housekeeper for the filmmaker’s family,” WRONG, it was stated that she worked for the author’s brother, whom the author admitted to meeting on two occasions,
    and the who was a childhood friend of the author- who admits to meeting the real life Abilene once or twice during childhood. WRONG: this woman worked for the author’s brother’s family after the author who was an adult moved away.
    “The author will make millions from both the film and the book” TRUE as she should. she wrote the book, created the story that was not based on this woman.
    “, yet she can’t fathom paying $75,000 for the unlawful use of someone’s image.” no one should be forced to pay for something when it is clear they are not libel.

    FACT: the case was thrown out b/c the author gave a copy of the book to Cooper along with a note saying i know the names are similar but this character is not based on you… (BEFORE THE BOOK WAS PUBLISHED IN 09.

    Fact: cooper didn’t read the book until 2010 and then filed a lawsuit in 2011. now any smart person can see that this woman was looking for a pay day. why did it take her so long to read the book. perhaps it didn’t occur to her that this character was “based on her” until the book became a best seller. if the author had agregiously damaged this woman, why did it take so long for her to even familiarize herself with the material and move forward promptly?

    and please don’t go spouting tripe as if it were true. you’d have grounds for a better argument if we couldn’t easily research every false point you made and show it to be thus, FALSE!

  222. smithee dee
    August 25, 2011

    @T:
    “To add insult to injury, the lawsuit filed by the real life Abilene against the author of “The Help” for the use of her likeness in the movie has been thrown out. She was only asking for $75,000. Any writer with a hint of sense knows that you always change names.”
    ” Conjecture: Obviously you know nothing about the law. but we won’t go into that. let’s start w/ the “obvious.” If the author had truly written about this woman, she would’ve changed the name.

    “Abilene is a rare and unique name, and she was the housekeeper for the filmmaker’s family,” WRONG, it was stated that she worked for the author’s brother, whom the author admitted to meeting on two occasions,
    and the who was a childhood friend of the author- who admits to meeting the real life Abilene once or twice during childhood. WRONG: this woman worked for the author’s brother’s family after the author who was an adult moved away.
    “The author will make millions from both the film and the book” TRUE as she should. she wrote the book, created the story that was not based on this woman.
    “, yet she can’t fathom paying $75,000 for the unlawful use of someone’s image.” no one should be forced to pay for something when it is clear they are not libel.

    FACT: the case was thrown out b/c the author gave a copy of the book to Cooper along with a note saying i know the names are similar but this character is not based on you… (BEFORE THE BOOK WAS PUBLISHED IN 09.

    Fact: cooper didn’t read the book until 2010 and then filed a lawsuit in 2011. now any smart person can see that this woman was looking for a pay day. why did it take her so long to read the book. perhaps it didn’t occur to her that this character was “based on her” until the book became a best seller. if the author had agregiously damaged this woman, why did it take so long for her to even familiarize herself with the material and move forward promptly?

    and please don’t go spouting tripe as if it were true. you’d have grounds for a better argument if we couldn’t easily research every false point you made and show it to be thus, FALSE!

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