While millions took to the streets in support of the Black Lives Matter movement last month, just as many (mostly white) people stayed home and watched The Help. The 2011 film, set during Mississippi in the 1960s, shot to the top of Netflix’s most-watched list, despite being widely criticized for embracing the white savior trope.
For that reason, the cast of The Help, which made $216 million worldwide and was nominated for Best Picture (Octavia Spencer won for Best Supporting Actress), has been disassociating themselves from the historical drama. Bryce Dallas Howard recommended “a handful of powerful, essential, masterful films and shows that center Black lives, stories, creators, and/or performers” instead of a movie about racism written and directed by a white dude (based on a book from a white woman), while Viola Davis feels like she “betrayed myself, and my people” for appearing in the proto-Green Book.
“They’re invested in the idea of what it means to be Black, but… it’s catering to the white audience. The white audience at the most can sit and get an academic lesson into how we are. Then they leave the movie theater and they talk about what it meant. They’re not moved by who we were,” David told Vanity Fair about The Help, which was partially filmed a few miles away from the site where Emmett Till was murdered. She continued:
“There’s no one who’s not entertained by The Help. But there’s a part of me that feels like I betrayed myself, and my people, because I was in a movie that wasn’t ready to [tell the whole truth],” Davis says. The Help, like so many other movies, was “created in the filter and the cesspool of systemic racism.”
The Help is, for the most part, a shit-pie of a movie, but to be fair, without it, there would be no “Oscar winner Octavia Spencer.” That has a nice ring to it. She should be “two-time Oscar winner Octavia Spencer,” thanks to her much meme’d performance in Ma (I’m only half-joking), but at least she has the one. Also, Viola Davis rules.
Viola Davis ain’t playin with y’all.
Someone give @violadavis her flowers.
— Jimmy Folino – Black Lives Matter (@MrNiceGuy18_58) June 30, 2020
(Via Vanity Fair)