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Not that I think it would put a stop to a lot of the more "creative" discussion that often comes up regarding what winds up as the main review subject each week on Escape to the Movies, but I think some may be interested to know that The Escapist has given me a very generous amount of "moving around" room when it comes to setting up what does and doesn't get reviewed. Short version: 90% of the time, the movie on the block for that week's show is there because it's the one I decided to go with. The other 10% of the time being instances where there was more than one viable option and I sought the additional input of my producer.
The point is, there's really no "mandate" that says Escape to the Movies most often concerns itself with sci-fi, fantasy, horror and other "genre" movies - it just tends to work out that way and it's usually my call. And while I generally try, as the on-staff "movie guy" for a website primarily dedicated to videogames, to not be swayed by the demonstrably untrue stereotype that gamers don't care about material outside of the "genre" realm, one does try to get a feel for one's audience and act accordingly. I'm here to entertain and inform, which begins with trying to discern what prospective viewers are interested in, not necessarily "telling" them what they should be interested in, instead.
This column, on the other hand, is (ideally) supposed to function as a kind of "expanded footnote" to the show - and since I opened this week's show with a joke at the expense of The Help, I figure that's about as big a fig leaf of justification I need to talk about a movie that's becoming a big deal and that, while not necessarily an automatic topic for Escape to the Movies, inspires a certain amount of discussion that I imagine The Escapist's readership may appreciate taking part in.
The Help is a period drama based on a popular novel that compresses a volatile issue of the recent past into a personal character/relationship piece told almost exclusively from the point of view of female characters (which, unless we're talking about Bridesmaids or Sex & The City is Hollywood shorthand for "This Is Serious Business."). It's what we in the business call "Awards Bait," right down to its top-to-bottom cast of potential Oscar nominees of both the "future" and "overdue" vintage. Its mission: to tell the story of racial segregation and the birth of the Civil Rights Movement - one of the most difficult and often grim periods in modern American history - in a manner that flatters, gently reassures and steadfastly avoids challenging an audience for whom it is now largely the stuff of legends. Or, to put it more succinctly, it aims to contextualize historical events that were primarily about the suffering and indignation of black people in a manner that white people can absorb without experiencing any vague sense of historical guilt.