I Need Help With “The Help”!!

I consider myself a relatively bias movie viewer. When it comes to watching a movie I can admit that I’m not always watching it for entertainment value, but for a emotional connection (as corny as that sounds).

As a black woman, I’m looking for some sort of identity in a film that makes it more than just a movie, but a “cinematic experience”, as I like to call it.

For instance, The Color Purple was more than just a movie for me. Until then I hadn’t seen a screen full of black women with actual stories to tell. Stories that were real to me because the film makers took the time to explore motivations, emotions and more importantly a black woman’s perspective on all of the above.

With the approaching release of  The Help, a film adapted from Kathryn Stockett’s 2009 Best Selling novel, its getting pretty hard to avoid a preview. Not so surprisingly,  it has all the makings of a film I’d normally want to see.

Good actors are involved, the story seems pretty authentic and lets face it, I’ll support ANYTHING featuring Viola Davis. Yes. She’s just that awesome.

But all that being said, something inside me is sabotaging every effort I make to get excited about this movie. Ultimately, after some much needed quiet time and inner debate, I think I might have figured it out: I’m tired of White People Feel Good Movies. Its as simple as that.

We’ve all seen these movies. A Caucasian enters a journey only to discover something about themselves and society due, for the most part, to their interaction with a minority or minority lifestyle. In short, NOT a movie focusing on the emotional journey of a black woman…like me. But that’s exactly what Hollywood– and yours truly– is lacking.

I want to see someone who looks like me going through things I go through being helped by people comparable to those I surround myself with. And lets be real. They’re mostly black.

My family is black, all of my best friends are black and the experiences I’ve had in life are those of a 20 something African American woman. Is it selfish of me to long for a story  that I can relate to? Better yet, if I want to see a story about a REALISTIC black woman, is Tyler Perry my only hope? Cause if it is, shoot me. Twice.

All I’m saying is that I’m tired of films where black women are bitter, angry, overly sexual, ignorant, loud, a slave or of course, a maid.  Not only is this one dimensional portrayal overused and insulting but it perpetuates every stereotype mentioned above .

Imagine for a moment that the following were true: every notable film in the past 50 years starred an all black cast. Inception, Kramer vs. Kramer, The Hangover, The King’s Speech, Titanic, Star Wars– all of them.

Hard to wrap your head around, isn’t it? Why is it a difficult idea to swallow? Well,  I’d argue its because those would be considered Black People Feel Good Movies.

And who could relate to that?

3 Comments for “I Need Help With “The Help”!!

  1. I am a firm believer that the change which we seek lies within the hearts, souls and creative minds of the people powerful enough and bold enough to make that change take place. Many of our accomplished actors have performed in enough films to know the intricate details of script writing, editing and even producing. My confusion comes when we settle for a roles rather than creating the screenplay. While Tyler Perry has his faults, he has simply had the guts and the gumption to step out to make things happen. Yes, we will have to settle for him until others realize they have the same power. (Don’t shoot yourself yet; you might be one of the persons of whom I speak!) There are a million more of him in our community but FEAR is what keeps us bound. That being said, The Help is probably a good movie, but we as a people need to ‘Help Ourselves.’ That would make this black woman feel REAL good!

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