Thursday, September 1, 2011

the help

We went to see The Help today. Apparently it's based on a bestselling work of fiction, but we had heard of neither the book or the movie until a trailer appeared on the teev a week ago.

Although most of the characters in the story are women, it's not really a 'chick flick', because the characters are 3 dimensional rather than 2 dimensional, and because it is not about 'feelings' so much as the rules, events and consequences of an interesting era in American History: It's about rules and events which affected all African-Americans regardless of age or gender.

There is some humour in the movie, but about 90% or more is just well constructed drama. The Other has far more control of her emotions than I, but even she said she felt the tears welling up occasionally.
No confronting violence, lynchings or Klan meetings, but lots of truly vile behaviour and attitude from one of the main white characters.
The most humorous twist in this story provides a release from the horrible [but understated] atmosphere, and is brilliantly scripted, acted, paced and edited.

The Help is quietly inspiring and ends on a note of hope.

This is a film I will want to see again, and not just because for the first 15 minutes I could not get my ear attuned to the accents. Any film lover should see it at least once.

YouTube comments about any clip make for interesting reading, and comments about The Help are no exception.
A recurring theme of YouTube comments on The Help and other movies on race related issues is something we might call "White Lady Syndrome".

I first saw Freedom Writers on the way back from Europe and by the time we got home I had watched it three times and was a plane wreck. Love the soundtrack as well.

A more recent race related movie was The  Blindside.

I love Wanda Sykes' stand-up routines, but here is a sketch from her TV show [which I can't watch in Oz].

Finally, it's time for the hilarious Nice White Lady clip, [which I can't embed]:

People who complain about White Lady Syndrome have a point - but only to a point.
A story is just about a part of reality - if it was anything more it would be as entertaining as contemporary reality TV [not].
Better to tell parts of many stories than remain silent, ignorant or unmoved.

On the surface, the white ladies in these three stories might seem to be given credit for change which is really due to the other characters, but the reality is that in each case it was precisely because the White Lady did have advantages and privilege that she had the power to help the other characters achieve change for themselves.

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