The Help - Worthy
Yes, variants of ni*ger/a and nigra used about 8 times in the film (and 26 times in the book)…
BN-W doesn’t deem it “worthy” because the book or the film was great (they undoubtedly were
not) but the film dares to inject – even if just a smidgen – the world of
segregation and a separate but equal mentality into a 21st century America that wants to distance itself from that past and claim a post-racial society and act as if its long history of hatred and racism shouldn’t matter – even when so many things about the long-term impact of centuries of structural inequalities in America clearly tell us otherwise.
It also re-inserts the n-word in its original context in a way that people, especially youth, need to be reminded of because that word was effectively used for centuries to dehumanize, control, and break spirits.
Despite the intentional global marketing of it with a wink and nod by executives and CEOs, Jay-Z, Kanye West, Lil Wayne, Chris Brown, Drake, Swizz Beatz, and many others haven’t changed or disarmed anything about that word!
In essence, this film is a needed reminder of a time not far away that the educational system, corporate media, many politicians, and many people of all professions and incomes want to conveniently forget ever existed.
To be certain, a lot of the hue and cry over the film is warranted, understood, and correct.
While it is definitely nowhere near as fearless as
The Great Debaters
($30.2 million gross), it is also not as ridiculously blind as
The Blind Side
($309.2 million gross) and it is certainly a safe and “feel-good movie” for many Whites in general, but White women in particular (over $50 million in 10 days).
Check out all three films and see why the latter two have been box office successes and award havens (this film will be hyped whether it deserves it or not). People who have a need to “feel good” because they don’t have to go too deep are the ones who flock to see these types of safe films.
For the record, overall the women don’t look good in the film.
White women are lazy, spoiled, insecure, easily influenced, mean spirited, insatiable, and superficial. Black women are caretakers, protectors, overly loyal, self-sacrificing, motherly, and abused.
The men are expectedly stereotyped as well with the handful of Black men portrayed as abusive, passive, meek or non-protectors (with one even running away like a scared mouse after Medgar Evers’ death) and the White men are mostly distant yet they are still gentle, indulge their wives, take care of their family, and, heck, one even offers to assist “the help” with the grocery bags.
So, yes, there’s plenty of room for improvement in the film, but it taps (just a little) into something our children need to know about and as a character in the film states, “courage sometimes skips a generation.”
Could you imagine how much more successful our youth and young adults would be right now if courage hadn’t skipped a generation (or two) and more adults and educators had simply spoken out against the n-word’s escalation over the last three decades?
Words do have power!
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