Friday, August 5, 2011

Dr. Boyce: Why I Won’t Be Seeing “The Help”


by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse UniversityScholarship in Action 

The new film, “The Help,” starring  Emma Stone, Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer has gotten a bit of buzz recently.   The film is based on a novel by Kathryn Stockett about two black maids working in white households in Jackson, Mississippi during the late 1960s.  I was curious about the film, since my first impression is that it is a female version of “Driving Miss Daisy.”  I can’t say, however, that I am curious enough to want to watch it – for I’ve seen films like this one before.

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1 comment:

sandra m said...

On NPR yesterday, I heard Kathryn Stockett speak with nostalgia about her family's "help". Afterwards, I read COOKING IN OTHER WOMEN'S KITCHENS: Domestic Workers in the South, 1865-1960 by Rebecca Sharpless, which uses letters, memoirs, etc. from black women, telling in their own words how their tenure working in the homes of white families was not warm and fuzzy. Indeed, domestic work for black women was an extension of the same kind of demeaning, subservient situation that they experienced during slavery. The only difference was that post-slavery, the workers received a nominal wage. Black women had to put up with domestic work in white folks' homes because of the lack of economic mobility. The NAACP aimed to open up society so that black women would have opportunities other than domestic work. But, why would black organizations like the NAACP now endorse seeing black women back in white folks' kitchens? I have no doubt the people behind this movie spread some big money around.