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White Guilt and The Help [FB]
Aug 1st, 2011 by Dan

Listen, this isn’t going to be a detailed, well-researched piece on white guilt. Heck, it isn’t even slightly researched at all. I have neither seen the movie nor have I read the book, but I find this kind of thing troubling, so I’m gonna speak on it for a few seconds.

The Help is being advertised in such a way that it appears to be about a bunch of mean old racist ladies in Mississippi who are enforcing segregation and keeping black women down. Yes, something like this probably happened in Mississippi and, hey, perhaps enlightened women like Skeeter did exist in the 1960s South. Regardless, I still can’t get over how movies like this exist to show how wonderful white people are for helping black women.

It would be unrealistic (maybe? I don’t know) to have the main character and main writer of this movie be a black woman. In the 60s I’m sure she wouldn’t be able to get a book published in the scope that this movie (and book) is showing it getting, but the underlying message is still the same: black women are in a tough spot, but they can’t do anything to help themselves out of it. It takes an enlightened white woman to give these poor black ladies a voice and bring awareness.

Again, maybe it is realistic. Would a bunch of rich white women listen to any equality-based message a black woman wrote? Probably not. It doesn’t change what I see as a string of movies, rather like The Blind Side, that seem to imply that black people cannot help themselves.

I know it’s supposed to be a feel good story and we’re supposed to be in post-racial America, but we’re not. This movie (that I haven’t seen!) is troubling to me, at least based on advertising. I don’t know what else to say about it. Maybe it’s just my stereotypes and prejudices coming into play, but I don’t think we get to have movies like this yet. Slavery, segregation, inequality…these are things that are much more serious than bathroom privileges and silly, spoiled, rich women. It’s patronizing and offensive.

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