The Help

On August 8, 2011, in Biracial, by Honeysmoke


I was skeptical about “The Help.” I turned up my nose at reading or viewing a work about black maids in the South in a fictional tale written by a white author. That was not my idea of entertainment. No, ma’am.

In fact, as I took my seat to screen the movie at the National Association of Black Journalists convention in Philadelphia, I already had decided I would not like it. What could this white author and white director show me about two black maids who team up with an aspiring writer who is decades ahead of her time? Why should I care about these fictional characters who build an unlikely friendship around a secret writing project that shatters racial rules and and threatens their livelihood and relationships? Plenty and a heck of a lot, it turns out.

“The Help” is set in the turbulent 1960s and stars Emma Stone as Skeeter, Viola Davis as Aibileen and Octavia Spencer as Minny.

I was pleasantly surprised by the texture of the characters and how the women, both black and white, learned how to trust each other. The villain doesn’t seem to have one redeeming quality, and each of the other characters has her own personal struggle to overcome as well.

While it’s a fictional work, it is centered on the civil rights movement, particularly the death of civil rights activist Medgar Evers, who was killed in 1963 at his Jackson, Mississippi, home. As a result, the movie took me on a rough ride of emotions, at times angering me, bringing tears to my eyes and making my cheeks hurt from laughing.

I enjoyed “The Help” and suggest anyone who is willing to view race from a different corner of her mind to go see it. Remember, this is a work of fiction framed around a historical event. The author of the book told a room full of journalists that she was quite aware that she was making up the story. Don’t go see it alone. Take some girlfriends or someone else with you so that you can chat about it after the credits roll. Oh, and this is not a movie for young children. A few scenes are punctuated with spirited, literal and figurative expletives.

“The Help” changed my mind from doubt to acceptance. I may even purchase the book and read all the scenes that are sitting on the cutting room floor. The movie opens Wednesday, Aug. 10. Enjoy!

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  • http://www.amusingrain.blogspot.com Rania

    I have not read the book but I have been looking forward to seeing this movie since seeing a preview for it during a movie my husband and I went to see a couple months ago. I am debating whether I will go with girlfriends or take my sons and/or my husband (who is white). I really think, even though fictional, it could serve to be enlightening. Not to mention, many of the actresses in the movie are favorites of mine. :)

  • Kendra

    When two of my girlfriends repeatedly told me last spring I HAD to read it (one from the East coast and West coast), I reluctantly headed to Barnes and Noble and bought it. I wasn’t sure I’d like it and nearly put it down…but I was glad I read it. It recounts a time in history that as a women of african american heritage I’d all rather forget. But the book was much deeper. I even got my mom to read it. We had a local screening of it a few weeks ago in the DFW area and my mom and dad went and saw it and they both enjoyed it. Very worth the time!!

  • E A

    I’ve been debating whether or not I should see and/or read this. Maybe I will now.

    BTW, I enjoy your site and recommended it to a friend of mine, also in an interractial relationship with bi-racial kids. It’s refreshing to be able to ‘talk’ about stuff like this with someone other than my husband. lol! We should start a weekly group!

    • http://www.honeysmoke.com Honeysmoke

      Let’s talk more about that weekly group. What do you have in mind?

      • E A

        Nothing too formal. Maybe lunch or dinner once a week or once a month. Since I’m a stay-at-home mom with two toddlers, I’m always up for an hour or two of grown-up time.

  • http://www.honeysmoke.com Honeysmoke

    Oh, my goodness. The pie! You will be entertained.

  • http://www.youcallthatart.wordpress.com Melissa

    I read the book several months ago and really loved it. My daughter has it now and I told her to hurry up and read it so we can go see the movie together. When I saw the movie trailer, it was like my imagination had come to life. Can’t wait to see how they handle “the pie.” :)