Is 'The Help' a condescending movie for white liberals? Actually, the real condescension is calling it that

Help-Emma-Stone-Viola

Image Credit: Dale Robinette

Lots of movies divide audiences (you liked it, I hated it, and the world goes round). But a liberal message movie about race has the power to divide audiences — and critics — in a special way. The people who respond to it are likely to feel moved, uplifted, morally transported, emotionally activated. Others may feel not so much that they don’t respond but that they’re reacting against what they’re seeing — a “hard-hitting” mass-audience truth that is actually a feel-good lie.

Over the years, I have often found myself on the latter side of that divide, excoriating movies that passed off complacency as racially enlightened boldness. In the 1980s, there was a spate of films about the moral obscenity of life in South Africa that insisted on hanging their dramas on the shoulders of white protagonists — and that, as I usually took pains to point out, was wrong. (Why did a movie like Cry Freedom, featuring Denzel Washington as the slain anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko, need to have a crusading white journalist played by Kevin Kline as its hero? Answer: It didn’t.) More recently, I was shocked that art-house audiences could have fallen for the finger-pointing sanctimony of Mike Leigh’s Secrets & Lies (1996) — a movie that basically pulled the same ploy as Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967), springing a (saintly) black visitor on a racially insensitive household in order to get viewers to shed a tear of sympathy and, at the same time, to flex a muscle of moral superiority.

It’s no surprise, really, that The Help, the adaptation of Kathryn Stockett’s 2009 novel that opened big out of the starting gate, has, in some quarters, been socked with that kind of criticism. On paper, at least, The Help sounds exactly like the kind of well-meaning but backward, “progressive” yet pious movie that Hollywood, by now, should perhaps have outgrown. It’s set in the early civil rights era, a time whose turbulence long ago hardened into safe, non-controversial mythology. It centers on the daily hardships of two black maids, somber Aibileen (Viola Davis) and feisty Minny (Octavia Spencer), in Jackson, Miss. — but the majority of the film’s characters are white (as is the film’s writer-director, Tate Taylor, and Stockett herself). The movie’s central narrative mechanism, whereby a well-meaning college graduate named Skeeter (Emma Stone) interviews the maids of Jackson for an anonymous tell-all book about their experiences, seems to conform to the conventional, patronizing arc of a white heroine lending a noble hand of assistance to black characters who couldn’t, without her help, have done it on their own. (She can also be viewed as vaulting herself to success on their backs.)

Beneath all of these factors, there’s a basic, staring-you-in-the-face element that I think has been responsible for a certain moralistic ire that has greeted The Help. And that is this: Why, in 2011, at a moment when we have our first African-American president, does the most prominent movie of the year to deal with black life in America center on housekeepers and servants from 50 years ago? Is this really an exploration — or is it a kind of genteel, borderline racist nostalgia?

Well, I’d like to testify that if you forget about what The Help looks like it adds up to “on paper,” and if you actually watch what’s up there on screen, what you’ll see is a movie that is tender, biting, honest, surprising, and far, far more curious and morally adventurous about race than many have given it credit for. The key to the film’s power, and its originality, is this: It’s a movie not about taking bold crusader’s stands — which, at this point, wouldn’t be a bold movie to make anyway — but about the low-key, day-to-day, highly ambivalent intimacy of black/white relationships in the Deep South. It’s about what really goes on in middle-class households between the lines of the most seemingly ordinary encounters.

More than that, what’s refreshing about The Help — and this, I think, is what the critics of it have gotten wrong — is that it doesn’t use white characters as a false entry point of identification for the audience. It is, rather, a sprawling ensemble piece that asks everyone in the audience — black and white, women and men — to identify with everyone on screen. That’s the way that Robert Altman’s films used to work. They were tough-minded spectacles of shifting empathy, and The Help, though it lacks Altman’s storytelling magic (it’s prose rather than poetry), isn’t so far removed in spirit from an Altman film. Every woman in it has her own way of looking at the world, and the movie wants you to understand how those viewpoints all jostle and mesh and collide.

Based on its smashing first five days, I’d say that The Help is fast on its way to becoming more than just a hit, more than a “chick flick” counterprogramming alternative like Julie & Julia or Eat Pray Love. Right smack in the middle of the summer silly season, it’s that unlikely thing, a serious water-cooler Event Movie, the kind of picture that people are going to seek out and think about and talk about for weeks and weeks to come. It’s a movie that’s going to provoke a lot of dialogue, and so here, to help get the conversation rolling, are several points of contention that I’d like to address head-on, all as a way of explaining why I think The Help is a movie that should not be judged by its cover.

Why does this movie centered on black experience have so many white characters? Because it’s one of the rare Hollywood movies that begins to capture the extraordinarily complex black/white synergy of the Deep South. There’s a fantastic contradiction at the film’s core: The chatty, upscale Betty Draper-gone-Dixie housewives treat their maids as lowly, often invisible employees, yet they rely on them as nannies, and the children the maids take care of regard them as surrogate mothers. So, in truth, they’re far from lowly. Yet if the reality of these relationships were readily acknowledged, it would be a blasphemy — a violation of Jim Crow. The civil rights revolution was about African-Americans taking action to gut the evils of segregation, but it was also, inescapably, about how whites, especially in the South, had to change. And so it makes sense that the housewives in The Help are, in a funny way, half the story of the civil rights era. Most of them hold racist attitudes, but they fall along a subtle continuum of insensitivity inching toward decency. Bryce Dallas Howard makes the bigoted, controlling Hilly a study in the psychology of racial paranoia (she actually thinks she’s a liberal), but Jessica Chastain, as the flaky, lost Celia, shows you how when people really need each other (as she comes to need Minny), prejudice can dissolve. It happens out of human necessity, a change that then feeds the “cause.”

The movie has been called mediocre except for Viola Davis, who’s great. Make no mistake: Davis is great. Her Aibileen holds her face like a stoic mask, her eyes saddened yet accusatory, and in the scene where she finally lets us know why, telling the story of what happened to her son, her tears of still-lingering rage are cathartic. Her story evokes one way that violence can work in the Deep South — quietly, almost passively, so that the perpetrators don’t need to feel guilty but can, instead, feel that they did “everything they could.” Davis’s acting is exquisite (she’s the emblem of the film’s drama of spiritual grief), but the argument that she’s the one truly worthy element in The Help is based on the middlebrow — and arguably patronizing — perception that Aibileen is a character with “dignity” because she expresses her plight with great solemnity, whereas a performance like Octavia Spencer’s is more trivial because it’s comic and sharply angled. Spencer, however, is superb as well: Her range of moods is startling (just watch the scene where she talks about frying chicken as a respite from the world — and if you think that sounds like a “racist” cliché, you’re still judging the book by its cover). She’s the hostile spitfire to Aibileen’s despairing Sphinx. And it’s Spencer’s performance that answers the following criticism…

Even after Medgar Evers is murdered, the movie doesn’t portray the slightest impulse toward civil-rights activism among black housekeepers. There are dozens of dramas about the civil rights era that have had the bravery of black activism at their heart. The beauty of The Help is that it shows us the form that activism could take among women who weren’t activists. When Spencer’s Minny, faced with having to use a bathroom out back in the rain, decides to sneak into the “proper” white bathroom inside the house instead, and then flushes the toilet on purpose, out of sheer anger, when she’s caught by her employer, the abominable racist princess Hilly, that decision — and the courage to carry it out — is every bit as activist as Rosa Parks refusing to move to the back of the bus. It’s just not public. It is not, as Minny experiences it, an overtly “political” act, which is what makes it so truly, deeply political.

The Help resurrects Hollywood stereotypes out of the Gone with the Wind era. In a sharply worded statement, the Association of Black Women Historians raised the following objection to both the book and the movie: “The Help distorts, ignores, and trivializes the experiences of black domestic workers….The Help’s representation of these women is a disappointing resurrection of Mammy — a mythical stereotype of black women who were compelled, either by slavery or segregation, to serve white families. Portrayed as asexual, loyal, and contented caretakers of whites, the caricature of Mammy allowed mainstream America to ignore the systemic racism that bound black women to back-breaking, low paying jobs where employers routinely exploited them.” As a white male critic, I feel slightly sensitive taking on the Association of Black Women Historians, but I feel compelled to answer their criticism by saying: The Help, make no mistake, is about systemic racism. In no way does it portray maids and nannies as “contented caretakers,” like Hattie McDaniel in Gone with the Wind. The women here are shown to be loyal to the jobs, and families, upon whom their livelihoods (and maybe even their lives) depend, and their devotion to the children they’re caring for is genuine. (The film’s most wrenching irony is that they teach these kids the self-esteem that they themselves aren’t allowed to act out in the world.) Yet the way that they’re treated on their jobs, and all but forced to keep them, more or less as if they were owned, is shown to be part of a rigidly oppressive racist system. All of them have festering pockets of fear and unhappiness and resentment that they’re required to conceal except in small, private, and occasionally rebellious ways.

The film creates an equivalence between the hardships endured by black maids and the restrictions faced by white women in the patriarchal, get-married-or-get-lost Southern culture of the early ’60s. Well, no. It never argues for an equivalence. (That would be insane.) But it does say that there’s a parallel — that in that period, a woman like Skeeter (Emma Stone), who wanted to do something with her life besides settle down, was trying to break out of a certain shell, and that maybe that gave her a deeper understanding of the shackles that Constantine (Cicely Tyson), the woman who raised her, and the other maids of Jackson had to contend with.

It’s a movie about a young white woman using the black experience for her book. What matters here is why Skeeter does what she does. Is she a careerist? Or does she feel that this tale needs to be told? The answer lies in the tremulous decency, and modesty, of Emma Stone’s performance. Besides, it’s not really her book; it’s the maids’ book. She gets the publishing credit, but the glory of unmasking the truth is theirs.

Why maids, why now? Race, as a subject, has a way of bubbling up in movies to express something urgent in the culture. In the ’70s, when the idealism of the civil rights era had given way to an unprecedented cataclysm of integration, liberation, street-style innovation, funk and soul, drugs and crime, raised hopes and dashed dreams, we had the blaxploitation era, we had Roots, we had Mahogany and Richard Pryor, we had Cicely Tyson in Sounder and The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman. Today, it’s a racially quieter era, but in a different way it’s every bit as charged. On those occasions when the take-no-prisoners attacks on President Obama carry a racist undercurrent (as they sometimes do), it’s a racism that has learned not to speak its name — to speak in code instead. That’s often how people spoke of race in the South in the early ’60s. And so maybe that’s one reason why a movie like this one can speak to us now. I envision audiences, black and white, watching The Help, all sharing a greater understanding of our past. But whenever people gather in a movie theater, it is always to share the present, and maybe to know it better.

What matters, in the end, about the reaction against The Help — and what, at least to me, invalidates that reaction — is that it’s a case of people looking a little too hard for easy moral contradictions to skewer in a movie that, in fact, revels in its contradictions. As for the glib implication that the movie is basically “for whites” (i.e., not for African-Americans), that, to me, is nothing short of profoundly racist. I mean, seriously, who’s to say? Traditional liberal Hollywood message movies have taken tough, unruly subjects like race and forced them into reassuring, simple-to-read slots. But The Help, even though it’s a film that wants to move you in straight-down-the-middle ways, isn’t such a simple movie to read. This is one case where it may not be the film that’s sanitizing the messy issues of race in America so much as the people who are overly eager to beat up on it.

So did you, like me, think that The Help was an honest movie about race? Did it move you, enlighten you, inspire you, or in any way change your thinking? And if not, where, exactly, did you think it went wrong?

Follow Owen on Twitter: @OwenGleiberman

Comments (383 total) Add your comment
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  • Darth Pablo

    Huzzah!! I got the first comment. Pop Pop!!!

    • Mac

      Great article. It’s ridiculous that people dislike this movie because, quite simply, it depicts maids who are black. I guess they would be happier if there were never any other stories involving black maids.

      Gone With The Wind has many stereotypes, afterall it’s a soap opera/fantasy. However, the best human beings in the movie are “the help”, and Mammy is wisest of all.

      I’ll take The Help over any Madea flick any day. You don’t hear the Association of Black Women Historians complaining about another movie of a black man in drag as a sassy black woman.

      • Jay Dub

        How do you know they haven’t complained about the Madea movies as well?

      • Layla

        Thank you for recognizing that Mammy is the ONLY truly moral person in Gone With the Wind. But more than that, she never appeared to me to be “content” with her circumstances. I remember watching the movie as a kid, listening to her regular “under the breath asides” about how stupid and selfish her “masters” were, and understanding that any system that put her in a position of servitude was wrong. I think people focus a bit too much on her “yes’m”s and loose sight of her character as a whole.

      • wsugar

        I did not see this movie or read the book.

      • Hiro Kitty

        Sorry, that movie is shallow, superficial, white-washed, and Hollywoodized.

      • Kirk

        Historical revisionists want to make movies, so what else is new? Maybe read a history book on the subject if you want the truth? The public library has them for free. What else do you want?

      • S. Mathis

        The first SELF-made female millionaire was a black women (Madam CJ Walker). The most powerful women on tv is a black women (Oprah). The richest women in the U.S. is a black women (Oprah). The most powerful women in politics up until a few years ago was a black women (Condoleeza Rice). The most powerful women in radio is a black women (Cathy Hughes). The First Lady of the United States got into and graduated from Yale & Harvard without a rich, famous, or politically connected parent. Yet, black people are supposed to accept that the best story about their experience in the country has to come in the form of a story about black maids from 50 years ago? Are you serious? No, just obviously white.

      • S. Mathis

        This is a movie designed to make white people feel better about themselves. Thus, the mainstream appeal and Oscar buzz that you know is coming.

      • hmm?

        How is this movie supposed to make me feel better about myself as a white person?
        If anything it ups the white guilt I feel from my predecessors in this country.

      • Sean Hannity

        Michelle Obama got into Yale and Princeton due to affirmative action and government welfare.

      • ck

        Sean Hannity is an ignorant Racist.

      • Mythoughts

        If more movies were made by the white big wigs of Hollywood with Black people front and center and in a positive manner, I wouldn’t have a problem with this movie but these people seem to only want to show Black people in a bad light. No blacks in Twilight, no Black people in major roles in these romantic comedy. These racist idiots only see Black people as maids, pimps and crack hoes. Thanks to Will Smith and Queen Latifiah I can now and them see a great film where Black people be seen in a positive manner, classy or rich. The Karate Kid was fantastic and made almost a 1/2 billion dollars yet it and Jaden Smith got very little press but Hollywood fell all over themselves with that little white girl in True Grit.

      • Mythoughts

        Let me guess, your white.

      • Sprague

        My audience was talking back to the screen, crying and laughing. The Help was a good reminder of how things used to be, and works like Downtown Abbey or Upstairs Downstairs; it a sharp reminder of how far we’ve come.

        It can also spark conversations with grandparents and parents about what life was like for them.

      • Martin Luther King, Jr. Was A Republican!!

        Morons that talk back to the screen should be thrown out of the theater after they’ve paid a fine. Of course, the same morons will be on here screaming ‘racist’ because ‘black culture’ dictates that they act out. Why don’t Oprah and Will Smith and Samuel Jackson get off their millions and make movies about black people? Why do, “… white big wigs …” have to do it? Start doing for yourselves, black people. Get off welfare, stay out of prison, and live the way the 2% of black people who are ‘successful’ live and you’ll be much happier. Are you too stupid to realize that MLK’s dream of equality actually meant that you were supposed to start taking care of yourselves, instead of waiting for whitey to pay back a fairytale debt that they don’t owe you? Take a good look at the cesspool that most of Africa is today, and thank your lucky ancestors and their black rival-tribal kidnappers that sold them into slavery. Read history. Not revisionist history told by socialists to unite the unwashed masses, but real history. All colors and races have been enslaved and abused at one time or another in every country, and it hasn’t kept any of their descendants from being successful, so jump off the self-pity train and get a job and support yourselves and all of the unwanted kids you keep having to work the system. Stop cr@pping on Martin Luther King’s dream, and wake up and realize that he was a Republican, not a demoncrat.

      • Violet

        The truth hurts. I am so tired of hearing my own people throwing the race card around like it is the answer for every opinion that opposes theirs – it makes me ashamed to be a black woman today, as it seems people that share my color just want to complain about everything and blame white people for their misfortunes or bad situation. MLK is rolling in his grave. Instead of carrying his torch on to bigger and better things for ourselves, his hard work was all for nothing it would seem. His “dream” was for everyone, not just our people, but all people. Never in history has there been a time better than now for a black student to get educated on grants from the government based solely on the color of their skin – talk about racism. Most black students do not bother to take advantage of this. Why not? Get educated, work hard and be somebody. Do white people get this privilege? Not likely, or our community would be calling for somebody’s head on a platter while screaming “RACISM!” Every race (yes, Europeans had races before they were lumped together and called “white”) had to endure awful, awful things in this country when they came over to better themselves. They worked hard, did not complain, and pulled themselves out of their situation to make sure their children would have a better life. They were proud to be Americans, and did not want to be called “Italian-Americans, Irish-Americans, Chinese-Americans”. They were Americans now, and happy to be here even though it was hard for them. Quit living in the past. Take responsibility for yourself as a respectable, hard working person of beautiful color, and for God’s sake make the effort to speak like a serious person that wishes to better themselves, instead of continuing the cycle of “Ebonics”. I am a business owner – do you think I want somebody that refuses to speak clearly to represent my company? No. Open a history book and learn about the history of our people, and other peoples, instead of the hearsay and myths that continue to breed hatred for white people. Not one of the white people alive today owned slaves, and they do not owe us a thing. We have come a long way, baby, but to needlessly continue to be “stuck” where we are is only the fault of ourselves.

      • You’re a racist nutjob

        MLK Jr was a social democrat. You’re an idiot and clearly have never read ANYTHING he wrote about workers’ movements.

      • The Idiot Right Above Me is a Moron

        Spoken like an idiotic socialist demoncrat. You are so wrong that it’s not even funny. You should not be allowed to vote with your low IQ. Stop posting, turn off the TV, and go open a real book, not some commie guide to life. Stop believing what the morons that unfortunately had you say, and find the truth. You are what we call a SHABAA. Should HAve Been An Abortion. The BAA is enunciated to represent what stupid sheep you – and your ancestors, all SHABAAs too, I’m positive – are.

      • fancypants

        Michelle Obama went to Princeton and Harvard Law School. She never went to Yale.

    • loli

      great article agreed. there is a lot of outdated ‘opinion’ coming out of academia and pretending to be sound knowledge. i think the academics in this case were offended that they were not consulted for historical authenticity, so they are leveling these complaints against the film that it is ‘racist’. its really sad that the black historians group feels they have the right to decide for everyone what is racist.

      • Amanda Kiwinerd

        I like how you and people like Owen think they know more about this subject matter than the Association of Black Women Historians. LOL!!! Must make you feel all warm inside.

      • Laurie

        I think this movie is still timely. Just substitute in an immmigrant maid or housekeeper today and the way they are treated by their employers. Their treatment might not be overtly racist, but they are still not treated as well as they would like.

      • Tarc

        Considering that it’s *obvious* that the historians never actually watched the film, yes, it is highly probable that in this instance Owen knows vastly more than they. And being an academic myself and having seen the film, if that group did actually say this, then they need to be appropriately chastised for spouting nonsense.

      • cNow

        Obama is very much put down because of his color. It mostly comes from white people. Anyone not seeing that obviously has never experienced racism themselves or are the ones spreading it around.

      • Mythoughts

        Oh please, that movies shows the white women in makeup and in “pretty” dresses while the Black women look like chit. If the only white movies cranked out of Hollywood showed white in a bad light you wouldn’t be happy either.

      • HG

        My Thoughts: Jayden Smith got a ton of press. The movie was not Oscar quality, so he did not get nominated, but everyone talked about Karate Kid and how successful it was. That news, including positive talk of Jayden’s performance was everywhere.

      • The Actual Truth

        Only the weakest, most divisive and stupidest people scream ‘racism’ when the actual is that he is an abject FAILURE! If you are one of the shrill, uneducated mob that are spewing charges of racism every time someone ‘of color’ fails and turns around and blames white people, you are too stupid to continue living.

      • KSBEAR

        As a white male who really liked this movie and its message, I agree that it would be nice for Hollywood to make more movies with different portrayals of African Americans. That is one of the reasons I go to every Tyler Perry movie that is made. Sure his work appears pandering, but as one of the few white males in the theatre watching his movies I can tell you that the African American audiences flock to his work, laugh as hard as I do, cry as much as I do, and continue to few his work. There should be more “real” portrayals? The Hutxtables were the first. But remember for every successful black man or woman there are hundreds of black men and women facing the same struggles “the maid in The Help” faced every day in the U.S.

      • Livedthruit

        Is it just me or does the Black Women’s Historical Society of today remind anyone else of the snooty, ignorant old white ladies club in the movie? Same thing, different time and race. I guess we really ARE all the same – for better or for worse.

      • Travis

        I have seen the movie twice and I am also reading the book. The movie shows a side of the black experience that is so real that it may bring sharp pains to the ladies of the Black women’s Historical Society.

        I agree with Livedthruit, these black ladies apear to be no different in opinon than the old white ladies club. So sad. The truth can be painful.

    • SemiErect

      This movie did not excite me.

      • Lori Adams

        Did you read the book? Because it was awesome–it could have been your Viagara for watching the movie.

      • wsugar

        A movie should not require you to read a book to enjoy it, so you are saying the movie was not done well if you need your book/viagara.

      • Same Boat

        I have read the book but not seen the movie yet. I have noticed in other instances that the screen cannot convey important backgrounds and character thinking, because of time constraints. But I did enjoy the book, and recommend it highly. It gives you a feel of what it was like in the Jim Crow era. It only touches on the raw brutality inflicted on blacks; for example, it never mentions the lynchings, and focuses more on the psychological abuse and constant fear these ladies endured.

    • emmasmile

      Having an African- American President is a step in the right direction, but looking at how he is reviled in some circles is an indication that we still have a long way to go. Black and White, 16-25, should see this film and learn about this period to have a better understanding of what their parents endured and how it was just plain wrong.

      • hannah

        im 24 and my parents did not experience this. this movie was based on a BOOK. what is all the fuss about? get over it.

      • Girly

        Long article. I was raised by two African-American maids who did the cooking, cleaning and nannying back in 1970′s and yes, it’s racist nostalgia IMO.

      • Alyssa

        I agree, this was an excellent movie with an excellent message behind it. All these events did happen in the 60′s eventhough here they are depicted through fictional characters.

        Personally I think it is sad that in the 21st century and year 2011 with 4 and 1/2 months till 2012, that we are still racist in America. So people should see it and if they are offended then that simply means they know its true, and have probably said a bigoted thing against President Obama. I am a White person talking to my fellow Caucasians by the way.

      • kitty

        President Obama is reviled in many circles, not because of the color of his skin, but for his non-existent leadership skills and his apparent distate for the Country that he leads. Don’t you realize that assuming racism as a motivation for not liking Barack Obama is – in itself – Racist?

      • Julie

        I’m sorry, but your assumption of Obama’s “apparent distaste for the Country that he leads” is grounded in racism. What else could possibly motivate such an insane claim?

      • Strepsi

        @ KITTY: I am a Canadian who visited the very genteel, extremely wealthy area of Lexington, KY for business: in a dinner of mixed executives and academics, it was about 15 minutes before the “Obama jokes” came out, the jokes were all about his “politics” but all of them racist (fried chicken), and some using the word “n***er”.

        In New Orleans I was chastized by a white bar patron fir sitting next to a “n***er”.

        The racism of your country is jaw-dropping, and if you think it is safely in the past, y’all are CRAZY.

      • Janet

        He isn’t reviled because he’s black honey – he’s just plain incompetent.

      • Matthew

        Obama is reviled because his policies are wrong. I feel the same way towards him as I felt towards Clinton, who was also wrong in many of the same ways. And don’t forget it was Bill Clinton who told Ted Kennedy that Obama should have been “bringing our coffee.”

      • Terry B

        Thirty five years ago when I was 30, I decided to get rid of those friends who used the N-word. Just like the the law, it was three strikes your out. Today of the 42 people I followed, four are dead. Of the remaining 38, I now have three who are still in the running as my friend. Now, what has this all got to do with anything, well nothing except that America is positively evil when it comes to race relations. I haven’t read the book and I haven’t seen the movie, but I would bet that most every character sucks as a human being. Who needs to see that. I will admit that few people use the N-word out in the open anymore and that is worth it to my ears, but the hatred in one’s eyes can never be voided. BTW, I am white and I will vote for Obama not because he has done and good job or because he is black but because all the Republicans curry the favor of white people who use the N-word, because they think it is nifty to deride blacks. Thankfully, Obama will win because when it comes to the election enough whites will see that Republicans can’t keep the money away from minorities without taking it away from most whites as well.

      • rand

        Strepsi: I’m a Canadian too and you are FOS. American whites are no more racist than the blacks and the Chinese in Toronto are towards whites. Why do the Chinese call whites “LO Fan”? Ever tried to date a Canadian muslim, if you aren’t? People are the same crap all over the world.

      • lajari

        Reviled for his policies, not his race. Why can’t someone disagree with his outrageous policies and not be labeled “racist”. By the way – what is the modern day definition of racist that people use?

      • cNow

        Obama is very much put down because of his color. It mostly comes from white people. Anyone not seeing that obviously has never experienced racism themselves or are the ones spreading it around. SO keep on kitty, lajari, Matthew, and Janet. All racists.

      • D

        To see the black women in those horrible maids outfits sent my blood a boiling. Even more when I saw the wonderful outfits worn by the white cast. The last straw was the commits about having seperate bathrooms for the help. How could anyone black or white be okay with a movie with this kid of chit in it?

      • Emilio

        President Obama isn’t reviled because he is black. He is reviled because he is an elitist liberal who has grown the national debt to terrifying heights. He panders to the poor. He does the bidding of corrupt unions. He says “I, me, mine” more compulsively than my three-year-old. He has made almost everything related to America’s financial condition worse. One day, we will have a minority President who does a good job, and he/she will be loved, not for the color of his/her skin but for the greatness of his/her accomplishments… as it should be.

      • Alyssa

        The only president that has grown the national debt to the “bloated disaster” it is- is sitting in Texas and talks like the Republican Hopefuls. Until Republicans realize that they will lose. Bush left a bad bad taste in the mouths of the American people when it came to Republican leadership. And how quickly you all forget the extensive damage he did in two terms. His name wont ever go away, because of what he did. President Obama is a very competent leader, and has done the best he can in 3 years. He didnt rack up that National debt in that little of time, he was handed it. Get over it, the truth is the truth you don’t believe it that is called ignorance-dont care what party you are, religion, class, race.

      • Eric

        It says a lot that when someone brings up people calling Obama the n-word, a bunch of commenters will insist that he’s only disliked because of his policies, and not because of his race.

        So that’s why people are using racial slurs – because of his policies, really?

        Just because you believe you dislike him only because of his policies – and since I don’t know anyone commenting here, I don’t know if that’s the true reason or not – it doesn’t mean that there aren’t a lot of critics of Obama that are blantantly, blatantly racist. The sooner you acknowledge that, the sooner you’ll have some credibility.

      • Alyssa

        ^^^ I agree, We ALL NEED TO STOP name calling. The ” N ” word should not be around anymore at all. That is uncivil, I dont care what you support. BUT…the Republicans do need to own up to their mistakes. Democrats have made alot of mistakes, and I KNOW THAT supporting them I know that. But for those on the right out there- have you excepted that BUSH failed us all? That he handed President Obama this mess, and Obama is working as fast as he can with the divided House and Senate. I am speaking as a concerned American citizen.

    • Donna

      Yes. You got the first comment and didn’t SAY a thing. Bravo.

    • Michelle

      I an so sick and tired of this black verses white crap.
      I will be glad in the next life , we won’t have to worry about who is what color. People who are always talking about skin color or too worldly for me.

  • dee-dee

    It went wrong when it was greenlighted.

    • Tarc

      If greenlighting The Help was ‘wrong’ we should all hope that Hollywood gets every future film a hundred times more ‘wrong’.

    • D

      Viola Davis must really needed the money to take on such a role and she didn’t even get top billing for her trouble either. I am so ashamed of her.

      • missy

        D – YOU should be ashamed of yourself for judging Viola’s choice. She is getting rave reviews which will hopefully translate into more and better roles for her. Maybe you are only interested in seeing her play Michelle Obama or someone beautiful and wealthy, but she has a right to take whatever role she wants. For you to judge her for it is assinine.

        And you do realize that in that time period there would have been separate bathrooms in real households, right? I’m not saying that the movie has documentary-style accuracy, but it would have been weird in the Jim Crow 60s to see two women, one white and one black, applying their lipstick in the same powder room.

  • Brett

    Actually, the REAL condescension is this article. But, what can you expect from a Michigan man?

    • Tarc

      Common sense and intelligence… just as expected.

      • Regina George

        I thought this article was great.

      • Tarc

        Me, too.

    • LiLi

      How is this article condescending?

      • Bentia

        It’s pretty condescending to anyone who has voiced any objections to the movie or simply doesn’t like it.

        If a movie needs two EW essays in a row trying to justify its existence, there are probably some really legitimate reasons why some people are objecting to it.

      • thin

        This is not condescension, it is debate. To call it names is to admit that you can’t argue with it.

      • Brett

        Wait, “thin.” So an article with a title like this one ISN’T condescending to those whose opinions it attacks? Gleiberman essentially says that everyone else’s criticisms are wrong. I especially liked his “point” that the critics who thought only Viola Davis was good in the movie are wrong because they ignore another cast member. That’s basically, “You’re wrong and I’m right.”

      • @Brett

        No, Owen is just saying that he disagrees with the critics and pointing out why he thinks that. Obviously, it’s just his opinion.

      • thin

        See, Brett, when I tell you that you need to learn how to read so that you can understand the difference between making an argument and being condescending, that is condescension. That’s not the tone the article takes. There’s a difference between making an argument and being condescending, and (I will condescend once again) you’d do well to learn the difference.

      • Bentia

        This is not a debate, this was presented as an essay. If it was a debate at least one other point of view would be discussed.

        I’m still suspect as to why EW has such a stake in this movie.

      • thin

        There is conversation that takes place between two people sitting at a table, and there is conversation that takes place article by article, by blog post, by editorial or by essay. There is a rich history of debate on social issues that is written one person at a time as they each contribute their opinions one essay at a time. That is the tone and the intent of this article, to contribute one person’s opinion into the larger ongoing discussion about the validity of The Help’s message, intent and success.

    • andy

      whaa whaa

    • levelheaded

      I didn’t find the article condescending at all. I thought it was a thoughtful and in-depth response.

      I don’t know that I even agree with everything he said, but he has obviously thought about the issues in depth and with intelligence.
      And I respect that it was not just a knee-jerk reaction like so much is whenever we talk about race.

    • Maria

      I think that Gleiberman is participating in the discussion with this article. If everyone agreed, there wouldn’t be a discussion. And isn’t it a good thing, at the end of the day, that there is so much discussion based on the book and the movie?

    • Summer

      Condescending? It’s just showing a different point of view.

  • sam

    Sure looks like it, much like the “Blind Side” was a condescending movie for white conservatives.

    • thin

      This movie has about as much in common with The Blind Side as a second-grade reader has to do with War and Peace.

    • jfm

      Why is helping your fellow human being considered condescending? Blacks need as much help as whites in preserving each other’s dignity. I am white and did not see the Tuohys as Michael Oher’s savior as much as by helping him through his plight he educated them about what it’s like for him to survive in our culture. I’m tired of people seeing the “color”: issue in movies about human decency. If it were the other way around with a rich, black couple & a poor white athlete we’d be shouting “Huzzah!’ . Give people credit. It’s time to take pride out of the equation & accept the fact that it is not condescending to offer a helping hand to those who need it regardless of skin color. You can’t have it both ways. You want whites to not be racist, but then you complain when stories about whites treating blacks with human decency get made.

      • soz

        The problem is about which stories get told. I haven’t seen “The Help” yet, nor have I read the book, so I can’t claim to have any kind of opinion about it, but my lord was “The Blind Side” condescending. When there’s a perpetuated image of black people needing white people to help them, specifically, there’s an implicit message there that white people are superior in some way. It’s not necessarily the the individual stories, but the repetition of these stories as a whole that’s problematic. Black people are often depicted as childlike saints, while the white characters are allowed to be flawed, complex, and dynamic. The help the white character gets is personal growth, the help the black character gets is physical help. But black people are people with flaws too. Is any of this ‘as bad’ as blatant racism (ie: lynchings)? Certainly not. But it perpetuates differences and implicit hierarchical assumptions rather than seeking to reconcile them. These are legitimate criticisms, and ones that are generalizable to the portrayal of pretty much every group that isn’t white, male, and Christian.

      • levelheaded

        @jfm – I see your point and it is a valid one, but the main problem is that these stories (white savior – black invalid of some sort) are told in such overwhelming disproportion to any other story showing blacks in a different light. And there is then concern that people are being trained to see blacks as victims, or not capable people.

        When was the last film that showed a black cast saving a white child that received the amount of press and the amount of success at the box office, that these movies had: The Blind Side, Dangerous Minds, Freedom Writers, etc.

        I can only think of one: ‘To Sir, With Love’ and that was decades ago.

        And before you argue that blacks perpetuate the ‘victim’ status by claiming racism where you feel there is not, lLet me just point out, that pointing out unfair treatment is not the same thing as exploiting victimhood.

        Asking for fair treatment and challenging a system that does not allow it is actually the opposite of vicitmhood.

      • movieman

        Because white, male Christians are never generalized or stereotyped.

      • @jfm

        I think “soz” is right. I don’t have a problem with stories where a white character has to help a black character (or any race for that matter), but can you think of even one story where it’s the other way around? It also depends on the way in which it’s done. When done sloppily, it comes off as patronizing and simplistic, but if the film-makers take the time to craft a good story and complex characters, it shouldn’t be hard to overlook the racial tropes.

    • Kate

      First of all, comparing The Help to The Blind Side because is ridiculous. The Blind Side, if you’ve read the book, is a true story in which a white family actually did help a black teen. It was not constructed to fit into any category of story-telling as it was just the truth. This conversation surrounding the possible patronizing story-telling in The Help should be had with comparisons to other fictional tales.
      Also, while I completely agree that there are far more movies depicting white people “rescuing” black people (or however you want to describe that sort of genre), @levelheaded is wrong that only To Sir With Love is the exception. Morgan Freeman was a principal in Lean on Me (which preceded Dangerous Minds) who turns the school around, and Whoopi Goldberg in Sister Act is a black character who rescues a bunch of white women. Denzel Washington in The Bone Collector is the brilliant detective who Angeline Jolie needs to turn to to solve a case, etc.
      I’m not going to deny that racism is still a problem in our society, but people too quickly shout ‘racism’ without giving proper thought and consideration to the situation. Not every criticism leveled against Obama is racist as he is a politician whom people are allowed to disagree with. However, that doesn’t change the fact that many criticisms against him *are* racist. The problem with The Help is a problem that faces basically any piece of historical fiction and that is the film’s responsibility to history. How much responsibility should a work of fiction have to history? Historians (myself included) often overly criticize films for distorting history because they tend to leave more of a lasting impression in viewers then high school classes did and that can be dangerous. However, any work of fiction is in it’s essence fiction and should be judged as a story, not as a history lesson.

      • Sittu

        Posted on Thanks, everyone!Dizzy: Whedon or no Whedon, I’d love to see a Wonder Woman movie at some point.Kristina: YES, Birds of Prey. That would be amnazig. Also: She-Hulk, Ms. Marvel, Manhunter. I think some of the X-Ladies could carry their own flicks. And Black Widow could have had an awesome stand-alone thing if they hadn’t made her part of Iron Man 2.Caroline: I was also hoping Number One would pop up! Or Saavik. I also enjoy movie-Pepper I suppose it’s not so much that movie-Pepper needs to be an asskicker, it’s that there needs to be some female equivalent of the Iron Man movie with an actress as wonderful and well-cast as RDJ (though I certainly would not object to ARMOR ). And Famke should definitely play another supe at some point.Matt: I’m with Kristina on this one. I have NEVER cared about Thor. The only way I will be excited for that movie is if they cast Journeyman.

  • Molly D

    I read the book have not yet seen the movie:

    What I enjoyed in the book (and seems to have survived in the movie) is it’s basic humanity. You are correct, Mr. Glieberman, Skeeter found that breaking out of her socially proscribed shell opened her eyes to the OTHER socially proscribed shell she never truly considered before. The humanity of the characters trumps, race, gender, or any other category, in my opinion.

    • AK

      Yes, which I guess is why I’m most surprised by the response from the Association of Black Woman Historians. I feel like it should be celebrated that this is a Hollywood film that finally offers a rebuttal to those old Mammy stereotypes from “Gone With the Wind” among many others. I haven’t yet seen the film either, but I think there is a great power in the fact that a mainstream movie is even addressing this issue—and with a greater sense of accuracy and honesty than has been depicted in the past. It seems like a great opportunity for further discussion and education that the ABWH could have used to their advantage.

  • Justin

    So spot on Owen. I agree with every word.

    • Ahmed

      I agree! At a time when most movie analyses are superficial and simplistic, Owen Gleiberman’s analysis above is excellent — agree with it entirely. As a man of color, I loved the book, and loved the movie just as much — it is more complicated and complex than most readers/viewers would like to believe. It is a superb ensemble, and deserves all the accolades that are coming its way! Loved it! Loved it! Loved it!

    • Anne

      Me too! Thank you, Owen, for being the rare voice of eloquent reason defending this heartfelt, complex, provocative story against a sea of people who are quick to call it racist white-washing just because a white woman dared to write about this subject (nevermind the fact that she herself was raised in the South by an African-American maid). As Octavia Spencer said recently on NPR, “what message are we sending to artists” when we say that they are not allowed to write about characters that are different from them?

    • thin

      I agree, too, on pretty much every point he makes. Fantastic, well thought out article.

  • Ruby

    I saw the movie, and thought it was fine. But then again, I’m a white female. I’m curious to see how black audiences will respond (so far I’ve head nothing but good things).

    • Jay Dub

      I’m curious to know if you’ve only heard “nothing but good things” from other black people or from only non-black people? Black audiences are diverse so, you might hear something negative from a few black people and then also hear great things from other black people.

      • thin

        Black audiences are diverse? You mean that some of them may like something that others don’t? Kind of like White audiences, or, you know, people in general?

  • winston

    Christ… everything is condescending now, isn’t it? People need to get over themselves. All these great problems of the past we talk about as if they’re gone, they’re not. They’ve just evolved.

    • lib

      True – nothing disappears, but time – it just evolves.
      I came from that time, but not that station in life. I have seen the evolution of this debasement and am grateful. However, I loved the movie, and in the deep south that I live – the movie audience all applauded after the move! How’s that for evolvement?

  • LOL

    I’m afraid it was nothing but a Lifetime movie that somehow got released in theatres. The real story here is how the public got duped into going to see what should have been a made for tv movie for bored housewives.

    • Joe

      *Two Thumbs Up*

    • Alyssa

      not funny.

      • Michael

        Posted on Kristina: For me, it’s mostly a Kirby and Simonson thing re: Thor. But man, when they nail it I can’t even iigmane an equivalent in terms of Ms. Marvel, honestly.Re: Star Trek I’m honestly surprised they just didn’t go ahead and make one of the main characters a woman, like BSG did with Starbuck. From one perspective, it’s kinda stunty; from another perspective, I think it made Starbuck an infinitely more interesting character over the long haul, to basically start with the Dirk Benedict character, make it female, and then see where it goes.

    • Scout

      To LOL, that is a disgusting statement. I bet you didn’t read the book OR see the movie.

    • JD

      @LOL Hey you didn’t mention Fast Five. GOOD FOR YOU. Moron.

    • Joe

      JD, you’re even more moronic for jumping to conclusions about someone who you know nothing about.

  • Empress

    Some points:
    1. Glieberman, stay out of this conversation.
    2. For all the “tenderness, bite, honesty, and surprise this movie carries, I haven’t heard any concrete examples of what makes this movie’s portrayal of racism and life in the 1950s south so different from any other accounts.
    3. This movie would have had a totally different reception if The Help referred to the housewives of the book/film and not the “maids”. Or even, if it hadn’t been called The Help at all.
    4. The Help is not the past. These are issues that we STILL face- walk down a block in liberal Manhattan and you’ll find many a stroller carrying a white baby pushed by a black woman and they have stories to tell as well. I’m going to write that book…
    5. Oh, and Glieberman, stay out of this conversation.

    • Tarc

      And why should any American stay out of a conversation about an American film about Americans?

      • LiLi

        Agreed. Coming from an AA female, Empress, perhaps you should stay out of a conversation if you are afraid to discuss the issues with anyone.

        I am, admittedly, have not been much of an Owen G. fan. He made a critique of “Waiting to Exhale” in the 90s that I felt was condesending and borderline racist. And since then I’ve read his articles with a great deal of skeptism.

        I must, however, agree with this article. I felt that the film was VERY different from many other films for one simple reason: telling the stories didn’t change these women’s lives. What changed their lives were the small, silent instances of protest that these women engaged in on their own.

        I thought the movie was extremely moving and concur with the points made in the article.

      • Empress

        I tend to stay out of things when I don’t know what I’m talking about. And so should you. Trust me- you have no idea.

      • Tarc

        In fact, I do. Many, if not most people do. And I repeat, how how stupid is it to tell someone that they cannot participate in a discussion about themselves? Really, really stupid.

    • Ace

      If you don’t think he understands the subject, shouldn’t you be inviting him into the conversation (so that you can inform him/share your opinion) instead of excluding him from it? “Stay out of this conversation” seems like a counterproductive stance.

    • andy

      empress i guess you only want to talk to people who agree with you…so maybe YOU should “stay out of the conversation” and continue your sad and bitter whining

      • Mozie

        Andy, if you got nothing else out of the book or movie, at least take away that people should treat each other with respect and common decency. Your comment to empress about “sad and bitter whining” is rude, assumptive, and terribly counterproductive to a discussion about respect, racism, and stereotyping.

      • Squishmar

        As was Empress’ “points” for Gleiberman to “stay out of this conversation.” How is *that* respectful? andy was responding in the same manner that Empress’ post was written… Aggressive and exclusionary…. and that was the reason he did it (I believe).

    • Gabriel

      I think having a great title like “The Help” lends itself to many themes in the film and doesn’t only pertain to the maids. This is a title that can mean many things if you think about it :p

    • David

      Dear Empress,
      There are over 7 billion humans on earth, and not everyone will agree with you. That is ok.

    • Deborah

      Go write your book, with its ton of racist undertones because lord knows you are already armed with your bucketful of snark.

  • Andy

    I have no desire to see the movie, so feel free to ignore my comment, but the whole thing seems like a movie designed to make white people feel good about how they treat black people now. They get to pat themselves on the back and say “Good job us, we sure do treat black people really well compared to back then.” Maybe I’ll see it, maybe I won’t, but I’m not going to hold my breath on that.

    • andy

      i really hate idiots who begin with “I havent seen the movie..” then proceed to give an opinion of it…trolls, every last one

      • Andy

        Shut up.

    • PJ

      That’s not what it’s about at all. Move along and get back to your bridge.

      • Andy

        Nice response, maybe look at the post below and give me some real feedback instead of just assuming I’m trying to upset people.

    • Janet

      I didn’t get that from it at all. I genuinely felt the pain these ladies felt (of course some of you will argue this point and say I can’t possibly know) So be it, but I didn’t feel pompous and self-righteous that “Oh look how much better we’ve made things for them now”. That’s a really stupid generalization.

      • Andy

        Well good, I’m glad I’m wrong about that.

    • Lorena

      Bonjour maximeje temrnie e0 l’instant la lecture de ton histoire et je pense que ta vie est le reflet de ton e2me: saine. d’accord, avec des de9fauts qui t’ont valu pas mal de souffrances affectives, mais je n’ai ressenti aucune hypocrisie, aucune me9chancete9 ni calcul!tu as en quelque sorte suivi ta nature et ton instinct ce qui est rare de nos jours!! tu as su rebondir en de9couvrant la manie8re de grandir et de t’aimer pour pouvoir enfin aimer vraiment les autres et t’e9panouir enfin.je te souhaite beaucoup de bonheur e0 pre9sent avec Jocelyne.moi meame j’ai plus de 60 ANS et beaucoup de malchance qui a fait que je me suis exile9e. je m’appreate e0 cre9er un blog pour vivre de mes connaissances de biologiste clinicienne et tabacologue, mais j’ai du mal e0 m’y mettre car tre8s isole9e. peux tu me conseiller? merci

  • Empress

    Also- can we have a movie with TONS of racial undertones that have us in positions of prominence? Just one Mr. White Greenlighter person? Please?

    • Mac

      I’m sure you’ve picked this as your crusade, but it’s a silly cause. You should spend your picketting against the The Real Housewives of Atlanta, Madea, or the next Martin Lawrence flick – THOSE projects are truly embarrassing for any race. It’s too bad that a solid production featuring great characters is being is garnering so much ire.

      Anyways, that’s that. I’m actually hoping you are just one of the many overweight whiteboy trolls that populate this webite (setting me up) than a “concerned” citizen.

      • Empress

        Quite frankly, if my crusade in life was to boycott The Help, I’d feel sorry for myself. I’ve never said I was embarrassed about the portrayal of blacks in The Help. My grandmother was “the help” and there’s nothing embarrassing about working hard to take care of your family. What I DON’T LIKE is that white folks have jumped on this bandwagon so fervently when there are several films with black leads that don’t even make a dent in the movie universe outside of black circles.

        Truth be told, doesn’t make sense to even talk to you about this because we clearly see the world in different ways.

    • LiLi

      I think you should re-think your position that these women weren’t in a position of prominence. That’s part of the point. You seem to be ashamed of this part of the past–and that’s a problem.

    • daisy

      you are a racist Empress

      • Empress

        You’re an idiot. Get a life.

    • andy

      empress you’ lost all credibility when you told people you disagree with to “stay out of the conversation”..since you want to just hear yourself, please go away and complain in private…we dont care what you think

      • Empress

        You’ve cared enough to write a comment.

        I welcome dissidents. I just don’t wish to have the conversation about race with people who have no understanding of how other people (the “us”) are completely valid in the way we approach movies such as The Help.

      • Squishmar

        What if I said I agree with you completely… then told you I’m white? Where does that put me in your eyes? Ooohh… tough one, huh?

  • B

    Thank you for your article, Owen. I saw the movie today, and I wholeheartedly agree with your statements. I think the more intimate, personal feel of this film is refreshing. Some older women I’ve talked to have had “the help” raise them, just like the women in the book/film, and that personal attachment is partial to the film’s success. Activism can be seen in the quietest, most solemn places, and I think The Help contains many beautiful moments portraying that.

  • Corrine

    I really appreciate this article because I agree 100%. I loved the book and the movie and can’t understand why all the hate for something that is so moving and human. Most movies today are junk…so why attack this heartfelt attempt to show a slice of women’s experience of race in the south in the 60′s? Maybe Davis and Spencer are playing maids, but those are some of the best roles for women I’ve seen in ages…they were not just sex objects for a change!

  • BetterDays

    As an African-American man, I found “The Help” moving and a must-see for all races, especially the young. Whereas there seems to be a film a year dealing with the horrors of the holocaust, the equal horror of slavery and segregation only gets a film every few years. It may be too late for those who lived through this sad period in American history. The wounds are too deep and some just won’t change their way of thinking on both sides. Having an African- American President is a step in the right direction, but looking at how he is reviled in some circles is an indication that we still have a long way to go. Black and White, 16-25, should see this film and learn about this period to have a better understanding of what their parents endured and how it was just plain wrong. Everyone’s a critic. I think it is progress that you have have a film like “Jumping the Broom” and “The Help” in the same year. Filmmakers need to keep telling everyone’s story. That is the only way that we can combat racism.

    • LiLi

      2X! Well said!!

    • O’Brien

      Absolutely beautiful comment. I am a young white woman, and I have spent my whole life in Mississippi, spending a good chunk of time in Jackson. The thing that struck me about this story is that it is, at its core, not about race, but about basic humanity. There is a passage in the book where Abilene and Minny have a talk, and Abilene says that all of the lines that people have drawn are just imaginary, that we are not different. That is the message of peace and hope that is essential to us all – that our similarities are greater than the differences we make, the lines we feel the need to draw to vault ourselves over others. That there is something more special and more valuable in embracing the idea of simply being human, and embracing others under the same tenant, letting the rest fall away.

      • JL

        Oh, O’Brien. As sweet as you seem, it is important to remember that this is an intimate story set against the SPECIFIC backdrop of RACISM. It may just be a pet peeve of mine, but when white people (yes, I am not white) start waxing poetic, “can’t we all just get along”, it’s simply another way to sweep the SPECIFIC problems under the rug, along with one’s own personal responsibility. Sweet comment, but watch where you step: you’re moving into the territory of obfuscation and self-delusion.

    • @ BetterDays

      My mother has been a housekeeper for 30 years now & I have nothing but admiration and gratitude for all that she has done for our family. Flimakers deserve the right to explore stories that have to do with domestic workers, and as a Latino, I appreciate Latina actresses like Jennifer Lopez doing films like “Maid In Manhattan” which give a human side to people who are otherwise invisible.
      However, I completely understand the frustration some people of color may have about this film. For one, they feel like Hollywood keeps reverting to the same stereotypical “good ol’ days” depiction of Black life. Hollywood isn’t giving them choices at a time when we have Black lawyers, professors and politicians. You mentioned “Jumping The Broom,”
      but what film is garnering all of the praise, attention and Oscar Buzz? “Jumping The Broom” was lucky enough to get a review in EW, (which I might add, is an independent film with a Black writer, producer and director). No major Hollywood studio has produced a film this year with Black leads other than “The Help,” and that is a shame. Minorities deserve more positive portrayals on film. I want my daughter to appreciate what her grandma has done, but also know that she can become a powerful businesswoman or lawyer, and that she no longer has to be confined to being a housekeeper or nanny for a White family. The reason why the Cosby Show was so monumental is because it gave minorities a chance to believe that we can become something other than custodians, chauffeurs or cooks.

    • Squishmar

      To BetterDays: While I agreed with most of your comment, and thought it very eloquent, I have a serious question. You said, “Having an African- American President is a step in the right direction, but looking at how he is reviled in some circles is an indication that we still have a long way to go.” The circles he is reviled in have to do with his political party and not his race. He would be reviled regardless of his race AND regardless of his policies so long as he were still a Democrat. *That* seems to be the new great divide in this country. But beyond the partisan idiots whose only concern is just that…. aren’t white people allowed to take issue with our black president on his decisions? Wouldn’t it be awful if there were white people who felt constricted about speaking out against Obama lest they be deemed racist? That would be a gigantic step backwards.

      • the_girl

        SOME of the circles in which he is reviled have to do with his policies. But there is no denying that if he were a white man, there would be way less political subterfuge and posturing going on. There are WAYYYY more white people who are nursing unspoken racial resentment than there are white people who are completely over the issue of race.

      • Squishmar

        Even though criticizing him for his politics opens up the argument for “racism” for the person criticizing even if that has nothing to do with it? And your sentence, “There are WAYYYY more white people who are nursing unspoken racial resentment than there are white people who are completely over the issue of race.” Well, apparently not– as it took a lot of white people to get this man elected.

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