Let me tell you a little about “The Help.” In spite of all the good things I’d been hearing about the movie, the previews I’d seen hadn’t done anything for me and I had no real desire to see it. however my wife felt otherwise and really wanted to see it, so on Friday we headed to our local AMC theater to see it. And I’m really glad we did. You can definitely believe all the hype, it’s a very good movie!
“The Help” is period piece, a slice of life movie circa the early 60’s. It takes place in Mississippi as the civil rights movement is beginning to shake things up in the deep south. On the surface it’s a story about prejudice, about the contemptuous, dominating relationship between the white southern belle socialites of Jackson and their black servants, specifically their maids. It focuses on how a group of these maids, worked together with a white, woman writer to write a book informing the country about what was really going on in white homes throughout the deep south and lend some additional credence to the civil rights movement and needed social change. However it’s much more than just a historic glimpse at our nation’s dark past, or a rehashing of what we’ve seen on the big screen in countless other movies about the civil rights movement. Much more.
“The Help” is a story about courage, the same type of courageousness we’ve seen in war stories only this time the enemy isn’t the Japanese, Germans, Koreans, or any other of are usual foes, this time we are our own worst enemy with tainted beliefs, insecurities and other foolish notions about Blacks, we are the villains. In one instance in the film a socialite woman with paranoia about blacks using the same bathrooms as whites, drafts a proposal that called for families to install a separate bathroom for maids and servants to curb the spread of Black disease and infections to white family members. The proposal eventually makes it way all the way to the state capitol and is signed into law by the governor of Mississippi. Before that, during their work day most of the help had to go outside to take care of their business. By meeting with the writer and sharing their true stories of abuse, racism and other personal injustices, at the hands of their white employers, these maids risked their lives and the lives of their families. Had they been found out the repercussions could have been catastrophic in a town where the Ku Klux Klan ran rampant.
I urge you to see “The Help” it’s an engaging movie that takes you through the full range of emotions. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, feel anger, and maybe just maybe, hang your head a little in shame. Ashamed that our country could have ever allowed people to be treated as harshly as they were, ashamed that in spite of the gains that have been made in the fifty years, racism and prejudice are still alive and thriving in this country of ours. Ashamed that the more things change the more they remain the same…
Just a thought,