The 2011 film, ‘The Help,’ is an American film adaptation as well as a drama from a 2009 novel by Kathryn Stockett. It was later on directed after being adapted for the screen by Tate Taylor. The cast of this film is made up of both white and black characters. The film is about Eugenia Phelan ‘Skeeter,’ a woman who is young and white, and has a friendship with some two black maids. They are Minny Jackson and Aibileen Clark who lived during the American Civil Rights Era. Skeeter is a graduate journalist and thus decided to come up with a book that will focus on the lives of the maids, who in this case are known as ‘The Helps.’ The film has done quite a commendable job of exposing the evils associated with racism when black people work for white people in the capacity of help (Tate, et al, 24).
The setting of the film was in Jackson, Mississippi during the early 1960’s. It features some known names in Hollywood, such as Bryce Dallas, Octavia Spencer, Viola Davis and Emma Stone. Furthermore, the film was distributed by the label Touchstone Pictures, owned by Disney and was even produced by DreamWorks Pictures. The film was extremely successful to the point whereby despite having a budget of $25million, it had gross sales of $211.6million. Furthermore, the film had four nominations in the 2012 Academy Awards. Even though it did not take home any awards, it won in the category of a Cast in a Motion Picture for outstanding performance in the Screen Actors Guild Award (Tate, et al, 27).
‘The Help’ provided a very unique and perfect snapshot of the intercultural differences that exist between blacks and whites, and especially in a small town setting. Skeeter had gone to Ole Miss to study for a degree in journalism and upon graduating, she returned to her hometown. Her character can be described as being tenacious and fiery, and is extremely motivated to become a well-known writer. Upon her return back home, her perspective on the world changed quite significantly. It even reaches a point whereby she did not approve of the manner, which her friends as well as other members of the society treated black maids. It is evident that when Skeeter was far away from home, she was in a multicultural environment. This means that she easily associated with many black people who might even have been in the same class as her. In this case, Skeeter’s communicative choices affected the two maids positively.
The film had quite a number of racial inequalities that were present in many of the scenes. In my opinion, I believe that the lack of understanding between the black and white cultures could have been the reason why the helps were mistreated. Furthermore, during the era of the Civil Rights Movement, blacks were starting to fight for their rights, and the whites were not ready to accept this fact. As an African-American female, I can apparently relate with the two main black characters, Minnie and Aibileen, because they were humiliated because of their race. Many scenes in the film show how they were mistreated; for example, on their way home, they had to sit at the back seat. The black maids had to eat in a different kitchen and even use a different bathrooms than that which was used by the whites. The excuse that the white people came up with for this inhumane behavior is that they did not want to be infected by diseases spread by the blacks. In this case, the communicative choices by the whites have had a negative impact on the blacks.
It is quite fortunate that such incidents do not happen or exist in the modern United States. If this still takes place, it is only because some white people have the same mentality that existed a long time ago. In the film, it was evident that the culture of the black people was one that was helpless and powerless. At the same time, the white culture was quite dominant because they wanted their presence to be felt all over. For example, the black maids had to endure overwhelming suffering inflicted by their white employers. In this case, Aibileen was meant to be fired by Elizabeth because Hilly kept insisting that she engaged in an inappropriate act. On the contrary, Elizabeth who loved Aibileen could not make her stance known because she feared confronting Hilly about the issue. In addition, in both cultures, there is a desire to bring about the needed change in society. Skeeter, Aibileen, and Minnie come together in order to expose the evils that were taking place in their hometown. It did not matter to Skeeter how people would perceive her as she choose to continue with the duty of empowering the black maids. Therefore, the communicative choices that people make are based upon how they view each other. Some people such as a Hilly and her friends will respond negatively to blacks as opposed to the manner in which Skeeter relates with blacks.
The film was extremely enjoyable as well as being informative on the problems that existed in society during the era of the Civil Rights Movement. It shows that the society had many issues such as race, gender, and class inequality (Tate, et al, 34). The three themes were helpful in shedding light on some of the problems that are still present in today’s world. Furthermore, black people were the ones who were treated in the most inhumane way because they were believed to be from an inferior race. However, some white people such as Skeeter proved that not all people are prejudiced against blacks. She was able to inspire Minny and Aibileen to ensure their voices were heard. People need to follow the examples of Aibileen, Minny and Skeeter, in order to ensure that all cultures tolerate and respect each other.
‘The Help’ provided me with many valuable lessons that will ensure I lead a life that is not prejudice towards other cultures. All human beings are the same regardless of their class or gender, and no one deserves to look down upon others. The world has had great leaders who have promoted desirable virtuous such as kindness, empathy, and love for each other. One such leader is Martin Luther King who will always be remembered for his efforts of ensuring that blacks and whites have equal rights. I appreciated the fact that the film highlighted the possibility for blacks and whites to be friends. Indeed, ‘The Help’ is a film that I would recommend to anyone to watch because of the value it adds to human intercultural communicative choices.
Dir. Tate Taylor. Perf. Bryce Dallas, Octavia Spencer, Viola Davis and Emma Stone. The Help. DreamWorks Pictures, 2011. Film.
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