We'd love to get a few more comments about 'The Help' for this Sunday's Chapel Hill News and Durham News. Here are two responses to the movie, from Anastasia Bush, Durham County Library grant writer, and an excerpt from D.G. Martin's syndicated column, 'One on One'. Tell us what you think at email@example.com
BY ANASTASIA BUSH
I was not planning to see The Help, but I’m glad I did. The movie addressed some of the book’s limitations, plus it was visually lush.
The book disappointed me because the characters that I most wanted to learn about – Minny and Aibileen – were not given the depth of characterization they demanded as courageous women living in tumultuous times, while self-absorbed Skeeter’s concerns kept intruding on what was, to me, the real story. By contrast, the movie allowed talented actors to bring more depth to each character and it offered visual details to bring their world to life.
We saw Minny at home with her children, Aibileen’s commute to work, their church congregation, lots of summertime sweat, a real down home feast and the beauty of a small Mississippi town in the late afternoon. Finally, I’m glad I saw the movie and read the book because they have people talking, engaging in thoughtful discussion and expressing a wide range of views about real issues in the segregated South.
BY D.G. MARTIN
Last year, I tried to persuade a black pastor to organize some older women in his congregation to discuss “The Help” with whites. He made inquiries and reported to me that he could find no interest in his congregation in such a project.
Recently, syndicated columnist Leonard Pitts helped white me understand the mixed feelings that blacks have about “The Help.”
“As Americans,” he wrote, “we lie about race. We lie profligately, obstinately and repeatedly. The first lie is of its existence as an immutable reality delivered unto us from the very hand of God.
“That lie undergirds all the other lies, lies of Negro criminality, mendacity, ineducability. Lies of sexless mammies and oversexed wenches. Lies of docile child-men and brutal bucks. Lies that exonerate conscience and cover sin with sanctimony. Lies that pinched off avenues of aspiration till “the help” was all a Negro woman was left to be.
“I think of those lies sometimes when aging white southerners contact me to share sepia-toned reminiscences about some beloved old nanny who raised them, taught them, loved them, and who was almost a member of the family.
“Reading their emails, I wonder if those folks understand even now, a lifetime later, that that woman did not exist simply as a walk-on character in a white person’s life drama, that she was a fully formed human being with a life, and dreams and dreads of her own.”
Nevertheless, Pitts concedes that “The Help” is a triumph, an “imperfect triumph to have understood this and seek to make others understand it, too.”
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