8.27.2011

THE HELP an' Kathyrn Stockett





I know it is heresy, but...
I did not like the movie,
THE HELP. Has any of y'all seen it?

I ain't the first to say this film is far short of
To Kill a Mockingbird.




Yes, the maids (Help) parts were masterfully played.
Yes, the sets/ costuming/ and general bric-a-brac of the 1960s wuz excellent--

Mah beef is wif' the storyline--author an' scriptwriter. I feel somewhat qualified to comment on the author Kathryn Stockett's utter lack of dimension.

Her story takes place in Jackson Mississippi. I wuz borned an' lived in Jackson. The action of the story takes place in the 1960s when Granny Cracker wuz the same age of them young matrons in the movie, an' Aunty be a chile. We had Help. I had a Black "nanny" (and so did most white chillen's whose Daddy's made a livin' of any kind.) In short, Aunty lived in the midst of this story, an' Kathryn Stockett did not git it "pitch perfect" simply because the whole thang is stereotypical. Cartoonish.


Cartoonish, stereotypical, an' indulges in blatant revisionist history. ( If I were Black this movie would infuriate me--not because of how them whites mistreated the Blacks in the 60s, but on account of playing fast an' loose' wif' Black culture an' history.)


Lemme count the stereotypes fer y'all:

The heroine is the awkward, tom-boy-named-Skeeter, an ugly duckling-girl who- never-had-a-date-but-is-really-a- swan-an' she'll show ya' thar's hell to pay fer ignorin' her. She's the crusader that will set the ole town to rights. ( Stockett admits this character is semi-autobiographical)

The Junior League, din of dimwitted do-gooders who do mostly unconscionable harm while feelin' so good about it.

The Southern Bitch (think Veronica Lodge) who has no life but bridge parties an' The Best Deviled Egg Recipe. Southern Bitch's bevy of sorority sisters now all married --except Skeeter,
poor thang--an all of 'em vacant headed, wearin' dresses made of sofa chintz.



The Mammy who has larger than saucer whites of the eye an' is beat down by Southern Bitch an' her feckless Southern Husband (Think,Reggie)

The Trailer Park Tramp, a brassy bottle blonde-who -is-really-humane-an' -sweet-as-pie, despite-dressin'like-Jessica Rabbit. Of course she marries Rich Boy that Southern Bitch hoped to snag.



The onliest true Christians in the movie is found in Black churches.

The tipplin' ole' lady that thinks her Southern Bitch daughter needs a comeuppance.

The heartless plantation family that turns out the maid of 40 years wif'out a nickel. (Skeeter's family)

Know whose missin'? The Mirrored Glasses Fat Florid Sheriff.



I'se an ole lady an' I knows thumbin' yore nose when I sees it. Stockett has a burr under her saddle.

This story ain't about The Help. Stockett claims her research was "meticulous" but somehow she doan even know how civil right's activist Medgar Evers wuz kilt. She wrote (about a dozen times) that he were "bludgeoned" to death--but he were shot. So much fer meticulous--or, wait now--"bludgeoned on his front porch, his blood splatterin' his children" is so much more visual, horrifyin'.... an' such liberties is the architecture of the Stockett's story. Naw naw.... Stockett is thumbin' her nose at her family an' "friends" an' usin' Black maids as the vehicle.



Fer the record, I has known plenty of Black domestic help as a chile an' as a growed woman --an' not one of them maids wuz so cowerin' she would'na given a sassy-mouthed spoiled girl a tongue lashin'. An NEVER has I ever heered of homes whar' the Help din't go to the bathroom--jes' think that part of the story through...iffin' white wimmen lets black maids feed an' bathe, an' dress their chillen, hold them on their laps an' sing to 'em, do ya
really reckon the White Mistress suddenly thought maids had "different germs" only in the bathroom? Thas' fatuous.




Were thar' folks who mistreated The Help? Yes, very sadly, yes. It was poor manners --not an "equality" thang--but poor manners, a low class thang to do to hurt or embarrass yore Help. Families took care of their Help. Most warn't the hollow relationship like the movie showed.

Two groups of people are disgusted when readin' that statement: Black folks under 50 years old and liberals. Why? why, cause it shatters their deeply held belief that ALL the relationships between Black and White Southerners were based on hatred an' domination of one group by the other.

By now, some of y'all is squirmin' or shoutin' at the screen--ya think mah comments is
themselves racist because I speak of the Help as some we looked after, cared for an' loved...as if they were "owned."

I doan think I need to put a disclaimer in this post, but jes' in case thar's a visitor lurkin' lemme say plain out--Aunty doan favor segregation or any sort of mistreatment of NObody based on skin color.

But to ignore the truth,
that at that time, in that place, there were Blacks and Whites who understood that the system wuz flawed, would change, an' wuz changin', but they knowed that in their relationship that they loved each other an' helped each other, despite the circumstances, they loved on a personal (not systemic/ cultural) level.

At some point, the racial discussion in this nation is gonna have to git closer to the bone. Much evil wuz done. The system of racism--against any group of people-- is
despicable. But good relationships were not exceptional--I reckon the trouble is good relationships doan make a dramatic story.

What needs to be said is it is less a color issue than the unstated matter of class. What hypocrisy that Americans fall all over theyselves to gape at Kate an William, givin' nary a thought to footmen, butlers, scullery maids an' chamber maids--Princess Kate ain't scrubbin' out Price Wills' toilet. SOMEbody is--who ya reckon that person be? Well, that question doan trouble no liberals who luv to gripe about US race relations.


The relationship of White and Black in the 1960s (north and south) wuz tense an' turbulent. Times wuz a changin' an' that always brings strife. Still, the one dimensional story of this movie is ridiculous, an' mostly fabricated.

But y'all know it will still win Academy Awards.


30 comments:

Aunty Belle said...

I hasten to say that in no way wuz if "okay" how thangs were--

It wuz NOT Okay that Black folks sat at the back of the bus or any other of the horrors that were part of that system we's glad is gone.

mah point is that within' such a grotesque cultural failure, thar' wuz still trust an' care, even love between the families involved. Not to show that truth makes this movie cardboard.

fishy said...

Aunty,
I have been culturally Southern my entire life, not just a resident of the geographical South. The representations of this extraordinary culture are mostly incorrect. A few, (Flannery) maybe get it right. Most don't.

I have not gone to see the movie because something about the ads don't square too well with me. Nor, with Blowfish either. He saw one of the ads and said, "Is that suppose to be factual?" He went on to say he'd been hitched to my family long enough to know not my Mama nor any of my sisters nor I would ever tolerate what is implied in the movie trailer. He's right.

I can say this,
somewhere in Heaven is a glorious woman name of WillieMay who claims me as her own chile. THAT is a blessing beyond measure. They just do not make movies which include the love and respect which defined the era of my youth. Too bad.

K9 said...

BOO_YA! I freaking love this post. I dont know anything about having help - but i do know that you are 100% correct about segregation being about economics not race. As it always does when the southern pup travels west, the subject of race do come up. there arent any black people in HMB or Pescadero or Mirimar - or Portland or any of these other lib enclave that always want to talk to me about southern black people got it so bad. What do you know about black people!? ya'll dont even interact with black people so you dont know youre talking about- the ATL is about as mixed as a city can get - so dont even try and tell me about segregation when you have the world largest seg in the nation -its called OAKLAND. Didnt read it, and i am not going to see it.

K9 said...

i notice when the rappers, basketball, baseball, football and business black elite of the ATL hit it big, they dont live down in garnet. They move to the country club of the south and roll in the dough on the northside just like rich white people do.

Heres a good idea for a movie: based on Jacob Lawrences epic series of paintings on the northern migration post civil war: the exploitation of labor in factories (a low pay slavery) and the introduction of ghettos.

Curmudgeon said...

Didn't see the movie, and except for Grandaddy didn't see much racism, but I shared my Popsicles with the gardener and we were pretty good buds. I don't know maybe just having a black gardener was racist. I'm not much of a movie critic. I'd just as soon watch the three stooges.

Aunty Belle said...

Fishy,
Thanky--glad ya git whar' I'se comin' from--sorta regrettin' this post as I fear some dear blogger folks will take offense, an' may think Aunty be a bigot. But iffin' they do, it makes mah point in a strange way--but, bigoted is them who think in stereotypes: that all Southerners is hateful racists. Thas' the idea the movie conveys.

K9,
well, thanky, Pup. See what a wrote to Fishy above? I may offend readers but, fer pete's sake, at SOME point, we gotta quit lettin' the know-nothings write the stories. I wish I could shoehorn Flannery's HABIT OF BEING letters into the minds of a million people--she wrote from Georgia in the 1960s, an iffin' anybody had a grasp on both the horror an' the tenderness, how they coexisted, Flannery did.

About yore California experience--reminds that onc't early in our marriage Uncle had a buddy come bring his new bride to dinner--she be an older woman from California who "deplored" the fact that Southerners oppressed Blacks by having them as maids --then she went on to tell of her disgust over "wetbacks" an' the "worthless" Mexicans who were all "thieves" an' when a timid Aunty(yeah--long time ago) asked how she could not see that her bigotry wuz far worse than the oppression she accused us of, she said that wuz because "Spics are a whole other breed." Go figure.

Curmudgeon,
........it's mystifyin'--sometimes I wonder if part of it ain't that some folks need to keep racism alive fer their own purposes. All in, I reckon the USA does a better job of gettin' along wif' all manner of ethnic groups than any other nation.

I gits mah hair cut by sweet Korean girl--she say the grossest, most vicious people on earth be the Chinese.

What I take from it all is that some "fear of the stranger" instinct is operative in all races but that VIRTUE demands love of neighbor, an' thas' somethin' that takes commitment an' practice--an I still think the USA do it best cause we work at it. We ain't wunnerful, but we's better than second place.

moi said...

What needs to be said is it is less a color issue than the unstated matter of class. What hypocrisy that Americans fall all over theyselves to gape at Kate an William, givin' nary a thought to footmen, butlers, scullery maids an' chamber maids--Princess Kate ain't scrubbin' out Price Wills' toilet. SOMEbody is--who ya reckon that person be?

Perfectly put.

Out here, illegal labor from Mexico makes up the majority of the "help," although unlike the south, it has only ever been the wealthiest of families that had that help. So I can't attest to how they were treated, but I can say, having grown up in a mixed race, rural ranching/farming community in Northern New Mexico where just about everyone regardless of skin color was equally economically strapped, that skin color had nothing to do with class stratification.

Pam said...

I wont see the movie and felt it looked like a southern stereotype. No interest at all. But i did tell the hubs when we met that he probably didnt realize that southern sheriff could be found all over the place. Good to know a new bit about aunty.

Anonymous said...

Lurker says:

also unspoken is the modern adult black's resentment that their mothers loved some white children in their care.

Troll said...

You spent money on this piece of trash, Aunty?

What the hell were you thinking?

czar said...

I saw the movie -- first one I've seen in I can't remember how long -- because my wife wanted the whole family to go see it before both sons trotted off to school.

Full disclosure: My wife was born in Montgomery, AL, in 1954. Her grandfather was a sheriff in Montgomery and told tales of chasing Ralph David Abernathy down the street. Southwestern VA is the farthest north she's ever lived; huge Civil War buff and chockfull of southern pride and heritage. Family and friends were stunned that she married a Yankee. She's also well familiar with the culture of the movie.

Yes, the movie was full of stereotypes and was a typical Hollywood treatment.

But Aunty, dear, all your credibility goes straight out the window with a statement such as "Two groups of people are disgusted when readin' that statement: Black folks under 50 years old and liberals."

If you're going to paint "liberals" or any group with such a broad brush, you're really not in a position to put forward a lengthy post on the horrors of stereotyping.

You made endless numbers of good points here. It takes only one clunker to throw a dark cloud over the entire posting.

Am I a liberal? Of course. Do I spend my days telling some of my liberal associates how damn tired I am of hearing them say that all Republicans and Libertarians are evil scum who should die a quick but painful death? Yes. Some are evil scum, as are some Democrats and liberals. But all of them? No.

As long as the country is more concerned with mischaracterizing their perceived internal enemies than finding solutions and common ground, things will continue to get worse and worse.

And now, back to your regularly scheduled programming . . .

Aunty Belle said...

Moi,
eggsactly--an' same fer poor "sharecroppers."

What we need to hold in mind is that in the 1950s-60s, across the board, there wuz a whole different line of demarcation a'tween the the haves an hve-nots. Think of the bigotry of "no Irish need apply" in NY and Boston, or the hatred and abuse the Polish suffered in Chicago.

Today we's far more egalitarian minded--mah point. Today we can point to our progress as a nation --not perfect, but plainest fact of all? people are still trying to get IN this country, not out.

PamOKC
good fer ya!! I'se amazed ya tole Hubby how it be--very cool. As fer new Aunty revelation--whoops!

Lurker,
welcome. I reckon that would hurt--I'se akshully sympathetic wif' a Black feels that way, though it do point the mah point--many of these families did genuinely care for each other.

Troll-man,
heh...iffin' I could git mah $ back I WOULD!

Czar,
aw.....now, dang it. Are ya' pullin' logic on me? But, really, I din't say all Libs is loons, I jes' pointed out that ONE statement would disgust all libs--that statement bein' that thar's some good an' decent relations 'teen black & white families that ain't ever portrayed in that movie.

Please make note that Aunty did not categorize all libs as a sub-species. Only that, that one point of mine would irritate the feathers off libs.

Still, curious minds want to know--What about liberalism attracts Czar?

Hope the Boy-Czars have a good year.
An mah regards to yore own Southern Belle.

czar said...

Aunty: Toting that shovel around must get awful tiresome.

>>I jes' pointed out that ONE statement would disgust all libs--that statement bein' that thar's some good an' decent relations 'teen black & white families that ain't ever portrayed in that movie.

I am a liberal. I agree with you. Does that mean I am not a liberal?

In your writings, do you feel obligated to give fair voice to all possible opinions, even those that go against what you're trying to say? A movie stakes out a point-of-view and attempts to deliver it by whatever means. This is a piece of fiction. It's a fable based on a fable. It's not a documentary of the life and times of the deep South in 1962. It's fluff, not news.

Liberalism? I am not attracted to liberalism or any -isms. I don't get talking points from MSNBC or George Soros or The Nation or anyone else, mostly because I generally don't watch or read anything that I'm not paid to. Don't have the time. Too busy trying to put the BoyCzars through college.

So, yeah, in the spirit of your last post (which I've now commented on, by the way), I am avoiding the direct question -- because I have a manuscript that dearly needs my attention, with chapter titles like "Karl Barth and the Legitimacy of Natural Theology."

Floridacracker said...

I'll probably Redbox it for a dollar since I save my popcorn movie money for important movies like "Conan".

I was a child in St. Augustine during MLK's visit and have vivid memories of seeing the Klan downtown with pipes in one hand and picket signs in the other.

A black woman named Marie babysat me for a few formative years and later would do the weekly ironing which we delivered and picked up since she had no car.
Long after the work relationship ended and into my young adulthood, I would stop by to see her and I always brought her fresh fish if I had a nice mess of them.
I guess she qualifies as "the help" but she was just a sweet loveable old woman to me.
She thought I was the cat's meow too.

Steel Magnolias twern't a very typical picture of the southern ladies either ... I think that's artistic license ... these aren't documentaries.

I agree with your statement about personal relationships between white and black during that time.
I don't agree with the idea of the racism of the time being more economic class than race related.
The poorest white trash could use the same restroom, water fountain, and lunch counter as the richest white person.
A black person, whether poor or wealthy could not.
Change didn't happen instantly after the civil rights act and the segregationist signs in St. Augustine stayed up for a long time afterwards.

I'm glad you posted this. I had not thought of Marie in a long time.

SophieMae said...

Aint B, you jus' cain't let a can o' worms set unopened, can ya?! LOL!

I'm attracted to the idea of movies like this, but it never seems to pan out, coz 'artistic license', not to mention the unidimensional victor-authored/altered 'history', runs amok. I do get tired of stuff like this that puts Southron folk in a position of having to defend their own mis/dis-defined selves. The trouble, then, is that most sheeple have made up their minds - or had them made up for them - and aren't the least bit interested in being confused with facts.

>> I sometimes get a tad grumpish after an unplanned nap. Does it show? 8-} <<

Debora said...

Well Auntie, as usual, you've given me much to think about. I haven't seen the movie, but everyone I know loves it...but we're all Northerners. I think that those of us who haven't lived in the South love to romanticize about all things Southern...it's fascinating. May be in part why I visit your blog! I'll probably go to the movie, but I'll beware of the stereotypes.

Aunty Belle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Aunty Belle said...

FC!

Heh--ya' found a fun time to stop by---

I luv yore story of Marie!! I can jes' see it--an' of course she thought youse the cat's meow.

An the shock an revulsion of the Klan? I hear that--They jammed a burnin' cross into the grass on the lawn of our Church. Klan hastes Catholics as mush as it hates Black folk.

Artistic license not documentaries? sure, though see response to Czar above on use of facts wahr' facts is known.

As fer race vs. economics--thas' a fair point, but I would note two thangs: The Irish an' Polish also sat in backs of buses an' were not welcome in restaurants beyond their ghettos. An' even the "white trash" wuz often hustled off any place that wuz coed. I ain't discountin' the whole racial element, I did mean to point our how it wuz exacerbated by the class/ socio-economic status.

Gotta git to a Conan movie.


Deborah,

Oh gracious--I know I know. Please do see the movie--I'se gonna be very curious as to yore take on it. As mentioned, it is well acted, though I think the character of Hilly is over done. The recration of the look of the 60s is very good--fun. But the underlyin' message is problematical fer me--surely author Stockett knew of ONE, jes' ONE good relationship?

Aunty Belle said...

Sophie Mae!

hey you! How ya be?

Oh I'se wif' ya--very very tired of the hackneyed portrayal of "Southron" in contemporary movies/ TV.

As fer openin' cans of worms--Sweet Pea, I got them cans lined up on the counter waitin' they turns!!

That idgit NYTimes editor an' his smirky vicious comments about Christians? I feel a Back Porch post comin'. Atheism is the biggest superstition known in all human history, fer Pete's sake--an it's about time that fella had a hard look at what's in his soft brain.

I hope the world is treatin' ya well.

Aunty Belle said...

Czar,
Why no, Darlin.' Uncle totes mah shovel-- He say it is worth seein' the sport I kick up.

Smile...akshully, mayhap thar's a l'il misunderstandin' --I think that happens in bloggin' when ya cain't hear tone of voice. Ya' wrote:

"I am a liberal. I agree with you. Does that mean I am not a liberal?

No, of course it doan mean y'ain't still a liberal. It means,an' illustrates, my idea that folks who's different can find common ground, can genuinely enjoy what the other has to offer on some thangs.


As I tried to point out, I used "all" in reference liberals on jes' one statement. An' iffin' the statement-- that thar's some black/ white relationships in the 60s that were genuine an' lovin'--is one ya' agree wif' then mah use of "all" is defacto inaccurate. shoulda said, "vast majority."

Then ya as't:

"In your writings, do you feel obligated to give fair voice to all possible opinions, even those that go against what you're trying to say?"

Opinions? Certainly not.

But when some FACTS point to somethin' different than what I want to say, then I need to recalibrate.

Thas' why, in regards to this movie, I labeled it revisionist history. This movie, whatever it intends to say via creative license, played fast an' loose wif' plain hard facts--like the manner of Medgar Evers' death.

Even in fiction ('cept sci fi) doan ya' agree consumers of that entertainment has an expectation that writers will be factual whar' facts IS facts, then exercise creative license whar' the facts ain't known, or to focus/ embellish/ highlight the moviemaker's opinion/ viewpoint?

It ain't the opinion of the author/ screenwriter I take issue wif'. I take issue in mah movie review wif' the willful mis-portrayal of the facts of the time an' the uncreative use of stereotypes.

Bein' conservative I hold the value of the right of all to express their opinions, but that in no way has a claim on my opinion of that opinion--which wuz expressed on this blog post (more or less creatively : )).

As fer an answer to what attracts Czar to the liberal viewpoint (notice correction--not an ism), Sure, I unnerstand. I'se happy waitin' til ya come up for air. I feel yore pain! I'se one who truly does appreciate the work of a dedicated editor.('cause mah own desk is piled wif' such stuff as
"Linguistic Syntax and Human Reason", Grammatical Signals and Veracity" (Sokolowski). Hope to heavens he had a great editor.)

czar said...

Aunty on atheism. Yikes. Make sure when you're speaking of atheists themselves, Uncle Aloysius has put that broad brush of yours far out of reach. As with most things, the ones who make the most noise (Dawkins et al.) don't necessarily make the most sense nor speak for everyone else.

Luv ya, Aunty. You can dish it and take it with charm and class.

This pertains to the comment thread on my blog, re editing and such: Did you happen to know a Nix family in Jackson in your youth? You can respond over there.

SophieMae said...

Speaking of wormy cans... just caught a snippet re DWTS new contestants. If ever I had a notion to watch again - I quit a few years back, having seen enough skin and hoochie-koochin' to last 3 lifetimes - it's been snuffed out forever. And there I was thinking I couldn't be any more disgusted with the whole mess. >:\

Aunty Belle said...

Czar,
heh...oh we could git us a good jaw goin' on atheism. essentially it is a non-scientific proposition. I reckon its a religion -- or belief system-- in its tenets. Certain ideas is allowed or not allowed based not on science but other factors. I mean to say, atheism is less solid on its premises than agnosticism.

Aunty Belle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Aunty Belle said...

Sophie Mae!

DWTS--oh Sweet Pea, thas' more'n thios ole biddy can handle.

Can ya believe--NANCY GRACE? gag. Chaz Bono?

We have become a nation of voyeurs --jes' cause the oddities is "dancin" in their BVDs do it make it ok to stare at 'em?

Ain't no kulture left.

SophieMae said...

Aint B, you said it! I watched a couple episodes back in the very beginning. That was all I could stand. I understand it's just gotten worse since then. Chaz will, I presume, be taking the man's place in a couple. *waving fan furiously* I would REALLY like to believe her/his (???) appearance will kill the show once and for all.

Boxer said...

I read the book, enjoyed it, had Mr. Boxer read it who spent much of his time fact checking parts of the book and said he thought it was sloppy writing.

I have no desire to see the movie. If the book was sterotypical I can only imagine what the movie will do when distilling pages into 2 hours. But I rarely have an interest in books made into movies.

I think you are qualified to speak about the holes in the story... much more so than anyone I know. You grew up in Jackson? Yes, that qualifies you. My Grandmother was born in the South and when she left to marry her Yankee, she brought "Mernie" with her. A black woman who essentially raised my grandmother and then my mother and her siblings.

Good post and good comments too.

Boxer said...

P.S.

"But good relationships were not exceptional"

I completely agree with this.

Aunty Belle said...

Thanky kindly, Boxer-Babe.

I'se real sad about this--how few folks know that thar's surely been very dear relationships--an I'se had them. Thas' why it hurts when some think it cain't be.

I should git a new post up--jes' lethargic I reckon.

czar said...

@Aunty: I just finished proofing a book of memoirs from a Yale Divinity-educated Southern Baptist minister from South Carolina who was heavily involved in the desegregation of Chapel Hill, NC, and related race issues through the 50s-80s. Book opened and closed at his retirement ceremony, with "the help" who raised him unexpectedly walking down the aisle at the end of the service. Very touching. Great writing. Actually, it's a second printing of his book from about 20 years ago. Talk of how the S/southern Baptists had very little trust of someone educated in his fashion . . . and a quick mention of overhearing his father tell someone that he lost his son at Yale -- that is, the boy just didn't come home with the same old-school, small-town southern attitudes of the 30s and 40s that he left with.

The relations with the help were always gracious, loving, and familial. The relations with the colored nonhelp were decidedly less so. Yet he did acknowledge throughout that relations between the races were generally better in the South than in the North. (I'm not talking about on-campus, of course, where equality was far more evolved at Yale in the 40s than elsewhere.) At least in the South, he said, the races had opportunities to get to know each other in bordering neighborhoods and in domestic situations. Not so in the North, where segregation may not have been as public, but was still far worse.

And where I grew up . . . Staten Island, NY . . . good lord. Has to be one of the most racist places around.

He spoke of the slow-to-change attitudes of his peers. One story dealt with college football. He knew that times were changing when he heard at a football game, "Look at how our colored boys are beating their niggers" -- "colored boys" being a statement of some acceptance. Progress all the same.

Another interesting story: In Chapel Hill during the sit-ins and whatnot of the early 60s, some demonstrators were doing a little civil disobedience at a restaurant -- laying down at the threshold of an establishment that refused to serve blacks, restricting entry. The wife of the owner came to the restaurant, straddled the protestors, and proceeded to urinate all over them. That would be quite the image for the big screen.

Don't know what my point is. Just relating some stories from my reading perch.