Helpless

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Helpless

Is The Help really as positive a movie as it makes out? MovieBob isn't so sure.

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MovieBob:
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.

I'd wondered about that, thanks :)

Out of curiosity, do you write reviews for all of the other movie you see as well? I've looked around the internet but never found any.

Hungry Donner:

MovieBob:
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.

I'd wondered about that, thanks :)

Out of curiosity, do you write reviews for all of the other movie you see as well? I've looked around the internet but never found any.

Huh, I've never looked for his written reviews. It would be nice to know if you could read up on all of his updates here and elsewhere. Though I suspect he isn't allowed to advertise his own site here due to the rules... It may be different for contributers but I'm not sure.

Was kind of interested in this movie but you've convinced me to take a friend who is into horror to it.

Oh and I loved that bit about The Help at the start XD

I cannot post in the morning, this should go in the Fright Night comments and not here >.<

That's totally how history happened.

Speak the truth, this article does.

You know what really does give me white guilt. The fact that were all so keen to avoid making white people feel guilty that we'll only make a civil rights movie if it's about a white person standing up for black people as if to say 'Look, look! we're not all racist, honest.'

This is precisely why 'The Pursuit of Happiness' manages to be possibly the best 'black struggle' movie ever made even though the fact that the main characters are black isn't even supposed to be a central theme.

Redlin5:
Huh, I've never looked for his written reviews. It would be nice to know if you could read up on all of his updates here and elsewhere. Though I suspect he isn't allowed to advertise his own site here due to the rules... It may be different for contributers but I'm not sure.

There's nothing on his blog, which suggests to me he doesn't publish reviews for all of the movies he sees, but I'm open to the fact that I may just be inept at finding such things. :)

The main issue I see with criticism towards how the movie follows conventional "White Saviour" logic is that, if I'm lead to believe, this convention is not something invented for the movie but is rather something from the book. Seeing as how the author was involved with the production of this movie (I forgot where I heard this, but I think the director was friends with the author and wanted to buy the movie rights when the bok came out), isn't it ultimately up to her to decide whether the convention sticks? I guess the argument is that they didn't have to make a movie version of this book, but can one really blame the convention on Hollywood tropes when the convention came from a source outside of Hollywood?

Eternal_Lament:
The main issue I see with criticism towards how the movie follows conventional "White Saviour" logic is that, if I'm lead to believe, this convention is not something invented for the movie but is rather something from the book. Seeing as how the author was involved with the production of this movie (I forgot where I heard this, but I think the director was friends with the author and wanted to buy the movie rights when the bok came out), isn't it ultimately up to her to decide whether the convention sticks? I guess the argument is that they didn't have to make a movie version of this book, but can one really blame the convention on Hollywood tropes when the convention came from a source outside of Hollywood?

Well, yes. The fact remains that a lot of people beyond the author had to sign off on the idea that this book is worth being made into a movie and that this story was worth telling. There are dozens if not hundreds of stories - fictional and factual - from the civil rights era that could be made into movies that don't involve the white savior trope. Saying that this movie can't be criticized for this is like saying that the Twilight movies can't be criticized for flat characterization and poor examples for girls because the books are like that too.

NinjaDeathSlap:
Speak the truth, this article does.

You know what really does give me white guilt. The fact that were all so keen to avoid making white people feel guilty that we'll only make a civil rights movie if it's about a white person standing up for black people as if to say 'Look, look! we're not all racist, honest.'

This is precisely why 'The Pursuit of Happiness' manages to be possibly the best 'black struggle' movie ever made even though the fact that the main characters are black isn't even supposed to be a central theme.

I hear you. Well, not on The Pursuit of Happiness, I never saw it, but on the rest. It's interesting, though. My girlfriend is black, and until she started pointing this kind of stuff out to me, I never noticed. I mean, I noticed blatant stuff like the Blindside, but I never noticed it about hollywood in general. How there are NO black women except in Tyler Perry movies and a couple movies like this, but there's always one ambiguously brown woman, for example.

I guess it's like someone said (maybe it was Moviebob? I don't remember); our (that is, white people's) predominance in film is so monolithic that we don't even notice it's there.

Wow, it's not even a "White Savior" movie, it's a "smart, forward thinking girl" showing her backwards [insert relational unit(s)] how cool it is to be smart and forward thinking disguised as a white savior movie.

Let's have a Jennifer's-Body-but-good kind of "what if" on this. What if they built the premise of this movie without the girl, or least make her the afterthought? The local maids got together after work one day, all mad and discouraged, and had the brilliant idea to make a book and got a white friend (say the daughter of one of their employers, who went to college and actually learned things) to act as the author so it would get printed?

Avatar Roku:

NinjaDeathSlap:
Speak the truth, this article does.

You know what really does give me white guilt. The fact that were all so keen to avoid making white people feel guilty that we'll only make a civil rights movie if it's about a white person standing up for black people as if to say 'Look, look! we're not all racist, honest.'

This is precisely why 'The Pursuit of Happiness' manages to be possibly the best 'black struggle' movie ever made even though the fact that the main characters are black isn't even supposed to be a central theme.

I hear you. Well, not on The Pursuit of Happiness, I never saw it, but on the rest. It's interesting, though. My girlfriend is black, and until she started pointing this kind of stuff out to me, I never noticed. I mean, I noticed blatant stuff like the Blindside, but I never noticed it about hollywood in general. How there are NO black women except in Tyler Perry movies and a couple movies like this, but there's always one ambiguously brown woman, for example.

I guess it's like someone said (maybe it was Moviebob? I don't remember); our (that is, white people's) predominance in film is so monolithic that we don't even notice it's there.

I didn't really start noticing this stuff until The Blindside, but after that I started seeing it everywhere and it pisses me off no end. Look Hollywood, the you country has a black president now. Are you honestly so out of touch that you think we can't handle 1 movie about injustice towards black people unless the lead is a selfless white person and everyone else is either 'token black victim' or 'token white douche'?

Also, It's been out a while now so I'm guessing you could get the DVD of The Pursuit of Happiness quite cheap off Amazon or something, and I really, REALLY recommend that you do. It's great.

The production of this movie makes me feel worse than an actual movie about white people being awful.

And I can't believe that this was aimed it at the "liberal" side, which is exactly the side that would be open to a movie made for black people. I'd go see an epic about the civil rights movement. Where's Ridley Scott? Let's get him on that. NOW.

So The Help is basically Twilight with black people taking the place of Vampires. Got it.

As offensive. As unrealistic. It'll be snapped up by the target audience.

I really, really don't want to see this movie for a lot of the things mentioned, as someone who has tried for years to be socially aware of the privilege I get in America for being white, the fact that people are making these movies completely genuine just enrages and saddens me. But I also do want to see the actors who I hear are very good in their parts.

I am happy that attention is being called to how well... racist this genre of "white savior" movie is, and how it really shouldn't be thought of as progressive by a lot of the people making it. I think because White has become such a default, people seem to think including any Black characters is progressive, regardless of the implications of their roles.I do hope we can get movies about black people where they are treated as actual characters, not Black Sassy Female A or Nobel Black Person B.

Bobby Archer:

Eternal_Lament:
The main issue I see with criticism towards how the movie follows conventional "White Saviour" logic is that, if I'm lead to believe, this convention is not something invented for the movie but is rather something from the book. Seeing as how the author was involved with the production of this movie (I forgot where I heard this, but I think the director was friends with the author and wanted to buy the movie rights when the bok came out), isn't it ultimately up to her to decide whether the convention sticks? I guess the argument is that they didn't have to make a movie version of this book, but can one really blame the convention on Hollywood tropes when the convention came from a source outside of Hollywood?

Well, yes. The fact remains that a lot of people beyond the author had to sign off on the idea that this book is worth being made into a movie and that this story was worth telling. There are dozens if not hundreds of stories - fictional and factual - from the civil rights era that could be made into movies that don't involve the white savior trope. Saying that this movie can't be criticized for this is like saying that the Twilight movies can't be criticized for flat characterization and poor examples for girls because the books are like that too.

I was more refering to criticising it as a Hollywood trope rather than criticism in general, the point I was trying to make that since the trope existed prior to being a movie that it isn't really a trope that Hollywood made, rather one the author made. Perhaps its that trope that made Hollywood attracted enough to it to want it be made, but the point is that the trope existed BEFORE the studio got a hold of it. You can criticise the trope all you want, in fact I would criticise the movie because of the trope too (assuming of course that I would see it), I just wouldn't criticise it by saying that its proof of Hollywood creating a White Saviour when the White Saviour existed prior to the movie version, just as I would criticise Twilight for a bad female character, I just wouldn't criticise it by saying that its proof of Hollywood creating bad female characters when the bad female character existed prior to the movie version.

Great review, Bob. As much as I like your reviews that you write and then read to us with pictures over the course of 5 minutes, this one was best served in article format - where you can take more time to get at the argument. As always, I appreciate you're incisive ability to get to the heart of the issues that movies do (or fail to) address.

In the 1992 film, Malcolm X, a young white girl comes up to Malcolm and asks what she can do to assist in the civil rights cause. He responded, "Nothing." This is supposedly based on an actual event, but there is contention on his actual reply. Some say he said "Nothing." Others say he said "Die, baby, die."

Hey, Bob. This may not be a horrible clip to lift for the feel good Hollywood Oscar bait that makes civil rights look like it was a white girl's idea that they come up with next year.

IS this movie actually reflective of the book?
I saw the book in chapters with some quote saying it was the most important book since "To Kill a Mocking Bird" which, I thought was a little lofty.

Rect Pola:
What if they built the premise of this movie without the girl, or least make her the afterthought? The local maids got together after work one day, all mad and discouraged, and had the brilliant idea to make a book and got a white friend (say the daughter of one of their employers, who went to college and actually learned things) to act as the author so it would get printed?

Needs more 'xplosions. To get that teenage demographic...

In all seriousness though, thats a pretty good premise, but I think it would be more suited for a television style drama...like HBO or FX...maybe even AMC since Mad Men kinda functions close to the same time period and has done pretty well...

Rosa Parks pre planned and carefully executed her act of social disobedeance. Look into the history of the freedom riders, those guys and gals took alot of knocks. The struggle for equal rights was not just one of words and ideas. Alotta great people got seriously hurt or killed. Thank goodness were a more enlightened society and dont have anything like that today, except of course our what our politians call illegal aliens, whom in any previous generation would have been naturalized.

Thank you sir for saying something I hadn't even thought of yet, and then completely winning me over. I would like to see predominantly black movies, rather than have to sit through another Michael Cera / Jesse Eisenberg / Andrew Garfield vehicle about that one skinny whiny white kid we should root for. I don't want to see myself from five years ago on screen. I hate myself and more than that, I hate who I used to be even more.

Maybe Tarantino's slave western movie will finally put a stop to this "make the audience comfortable" nonsense and show racism for what it really was and is. Probably not, though.

Reneux:
Rosa Parks pre planned and carefully executed her act of social disobedeance. Look into the history of the freedom riders, those guys and gals took alot of knocks. The struggle for equal rights was not just one of words and ideas. Alotta great people got seriously hurt or killed. Thank goodness were a more enlightened society and dont have anything like that today, except of course our what our politians call illegal aliens, whom in any previous generation would have been naturalized.

Naturalized usually meaning far worse than deportation or the proper way...

But yeah, we as a society have become more enlightened. Sure, there are idiots but overall, we have improved from a few decades ago.

Eternal_Lament:
I was more refering to criticising it as a Hollywood trope rather than criticism in general, the point I was trying to make that since the trope existed prior to being a movie that it isn't really a trope that Hollywood made, rather one the author made. Perhaps its that trope that made Hollywood attracted enough to it to want it be made, but the point is that the trope existed BEFORE the studio got a hold of it. You can criticise the trope all you want, in fact I would criticise the movie because of the trope too (assuming of course that I would see it), I just wouldn't criticise it by saying that its proof of Hollywood creating a White Saviour when the White Saviour existed prior to the movie version, just as I would criticise Twilight for a bad female character, I just wouldn't criticise it by saying that its proof of Hollywood creating bad female characters when the bad female character existed prior to the movie version.

Yes, the trope was not created by the movie, or by Hollywood. It goes back hundreds of years at least. Yes, it's possible to find plenty of examples of this in literature. None of this makes it okay for Hollywood studios to repeatedly spend tens of millions of dollars perpetuating these ideas. Sure, Hollywood doesn't always create these characters, but they still promote them by putting them on giant screens all over the country.

When I saw the poster I thought The Help might be kind of racist. Not I see that's not, it's actually completely racist. Awesome.

It has Emma Stone in it so all your arguments are invalid.

Hollywood does the same thing to Asians in films too. There can't be an Asian without it ending up as some sort of stereotype (brainy, lazy or hot asian chick).

Even when the character would FIT a stereotype, they end up using a white actor. I can't think of the name of the movie (I think it was 21), but the main character was a super brainy white kid and the asians of the group was like a quirky comic relief sidekick and a hot asian chick, even though the story it was based on were about a group of Asian-American kids.

Hmm...nah. I'd take Emma Stone over Jessica Chastain as both hotter and the better actress. Sure, the premise of the movie is borderline offensive along the race line, but you know...I'm not the target demographic here anyway. It wasn't white girls rebelling against their families that kicked things off. That kicked off a whole other kind of movement, one that involves more piercings and tattoos than their parents were comfortable with, and damn if I don't love the result of that movement. But maids in Mississippi had quite a large pool of support to do what they did, and they used all of that support as well as they could.

Only thing I got out of this was that both Gwen Stacy's are in this movie

Why exactly, when something actually happened, is it considered racists? If the book was written by a black woman, Moviebob would have nothing to complain about. But the fact remains, the book was written by a white woman. Does that fact take away from the story? No, it doesn't. Back when the book was published, even if a black person wrote the book, it would have NEVER been published on the sole fact that the author was black.

And history doesn't remember the "white heroes" during the civil rights movement. It remembers the people who actually took real stands against racism (Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Medgar Evers). Yeah, there were white people in the mix of the civil rights marches, but nobody remembers them.

And I'm not saying to lift white people up because their plight won't be remembered. I'm just saying that if the movie is about a book that was written by a white woman, that doesn't mean the "white hero" movie is racist. It's just how it was.

Also, trying to compare one movie (The Blind Side) to another (The Help) is unfair to the context of the movie that is being reviewed. Yes, I understand that taking past experiences from other movies to review another movie is what reviewers do but sometimes it can be taken too far.

"The Help" is an excellent movie with wonderful subplots tying into the bigger story with Oscar winning performances. My only complaint is that the movie does go a little long in tying up its' loose ends. Again, moviebob would have no argument if the story was written by a black woman. Being irked that it was written by a white woman is just as racist as being irked that there are black people in the movie.

I started another thread semi related to this movie about the phenomena of white guilt and how it manifests in popular culture and social structure, i would love for some of you to take a look at it.

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/forums/read/528.308157-White-guilt-the-White-Mans-burden

1. Moviebob, you do realize the irony/hippocrasy (hippocrasy if not irony) of your entire article? You disapprove of the movie because Skeeter's (Emma Stone's character) effort to influence these black maids to tell their stories for her book, The Help, is purely driven by her efforts to prove she's not as racist as EVERYONE else in Jackson, Mississippi. All the while, your condemnation of the movie is probably subltely driven by your attempt to prove your not a racist.

2. My sister had me take her to see it 'cause she read the book. (I work at a movie theater, so I get free tickets.) The movie showed Medger Evers' speech, briefly, than had the two black people forced off the bus and running home when he was assassinated. Then, later they watched Martin Luther King Jrs. funeral on the TV. My point is: the movie DOESN'T IN ANY WAY say that Skeeter caused the Civil Rights movement. She wants her book to inspire reform in JACKSON, MISSISSIPPI by having people read what black maids have to endure there.

3. My viewing had 4 white people (my sister and I and a couple of elderly women) and the rest were black filling about 60% to 75% of the theater on a Tuesday night. My theater's opening week numbers were VERY successful almost that of a "Tyler Perry" movie. (Tyler Perry movies are ALWAYS HUGE successes for my theater.) So, if black people aren't all that offended by the movie and want to come see it than it might not be as racist as you think it is.

So Moviebob is a racist because he's tired of the Magical Negro trope? -everyone- is tired of the Magical Negro.

White people should only ever be portrayed as evil bigoted racists because that's all we are. We should be ashamed of ourselves... herp derp. Bleeding heart much?

I've seen my fair share of ACTUAL racism living in the Detroit area, and of every flavor too, especially against those of Arabic descent because Arabic = Muslim = Terrorist).

Sometimes I think the only "race" that exists in hollywood's eyes are black people.

Excerpt from the Column:
The film is not, despite what its bookend scenes wish to imply, about Aibilene and the other maids' act of defiance. It's about Skeeter proving to her marriage/traditional family-fixated mother and her tediously old-fashioned friends that her career oriented, independent lifestyle is worthwhile; that the way she goes about it helps nudge a community further toward standing up for itself is merely a side effect.

Well, if this movie is more about an independently minded woman and her conflicts with a community with exceedingly backwards norms, then so what? Is that not a story worth telling?

The simple fact that a movie is set in the civil rights era, and (...inevitably) touch upon the racial issues that setting had, hardly mean that the focus must be strictly on how black people - und tzey alone[1] - overcame it. Is the subjugation of women trying to break free of societal norms holding them back - here told of on the micro-scale of a small community - not a tale which deserve equal focus?[2]

The problem here would seem to have more to do with a slight case of "false advertising" - that the main focus isn't the one of several liberation movements of the period you'd initially think it was mostly about - than it does the actual content of the movie. I'm fairly surprised anyone can manage to be offended by a story about a young women rebelling against "traditional values", at least anyone who don't subscribe to those themselves.

In short, is a movie about the political and educational liberation of a woman struggling with the narrowminded norms of small town USA 50 years ago that bad, because it's set in the civil rights era and she isn't black, and the black struggle isn't the main focus?

[1] ...because clearly having the backing of most of the younger educational elite of a society count for nothing if they aren't of the same race as you.
[2] And it's not like picking the struggle of one disadvantaged group as being more important and worthwhile than the other is the height of arrogance or anything.

Rect Pola:
What if they built the premise of this movie without the girl, or least make her the afterthought? The local maids got together after work one day, all mad and discouraged, and had the brilliant idea to make a book and got a white friend (say the daughter of one of their employers, who went to college and actually learned things) to act as the author so it would get printed?

That sounds a lot more likely, sensible and watchable to me. I also got the eerie feeling that whoever wrote this movie had just read 'To Kill a Mockingbird'. Scout ,Skeeter...hmm.

I'm pretty sure that a lot of white people didn't agree with segregation but I don't think they should be central to this kind of story line. I hate this view of industries that since the majority of the audience is male (I'm looking at you gaming) or white then it won't sell well.
How will we even break those demographics if we don't try and think and create outside the box.

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