Part of me wants to post this just to agitate my already agitated readers. Why, I don’t know. Because it’s fun? No, it isn’t fun. A friend of mine said he swung by the site and was afraid to leave a comment because of the harshness of some of the commenters. Of course, it is easy to write from an angry place. Low stakes, high results. At any rate, I was pleased to see one mainstream media outlet – and only one – has decided to write something about it. I don’t know if Izreal is prepared for what’s coming but he’d better put on a hat. He writes quite clearly and eloquently about this bizarre fascination with holding minority players to an impossibly high standard (which then results only in less material, less roles entirely, and more projects about white men because they are the only demographic that is beyond reproach). Here is Izreal:
The Popes of Blackness rarely agree on anything. One thing is certain — Davis takes on a difficult role and breathes life into a hero who is inspiring, enraging, familiar and extraordinary. It is odious that the nominating committee gravitates to black people playing into conventional stereotypes. Nevertheless, that is not Viola Davis’ fault. Given the state of the union, I think most any actor would be lucky to get work as a tree, forget about the layered role of a conflicted domestic in America’s civil rights-era South. It is an incredible part, and Davis nails it. Not everyone is happy about that.
You may recall that back when the film was released in theaters, the aforementioned Popes espoused their disgust for a black woman acting as a domestic, which naturally made white audiences curious, turning both the movie and the novel it was based on into something of a sensation. I’m not sure why white folks loved “The Help” so much — maybe because many of them grew up with an Aibileen of their own.
I love how he ends the piece:
Some may be discouraged to see a black woman get an Oscar nod for playing a house cleaner — never mind that women in their 40s of every stripe are having a hard time everywhere in Hollywood. Viola Davis is a gifted actor — smokin’ hot! — but not buxom, biracial or conventionally beautiful. She already has a truckload of Tony and other theater awards, just got a SAG award, and works steadily. Her nomination pushes an opening door even further, soliciting an appreciation for the beauty of dark skin, full eyes and lips, and a new beauty aesthetic for Hollywood to consider.
“The Help” is decried for being a work of white liberal guilt porn, schmaltzy and sentimental — which it is. But so what? There are flaws in the film, but Viola Davis is not one of them.
Actually, Davis IS quite buxom. But he is comparing her, of course, to Halle Berry who is still the only black actress (she’s biracial but we all know how that is defined – just look at our President.)