Amid the ongoing protests against the unfair treatment of the Black community and police brutality, many have been searching for literature, movies, and content that centers around the story of Black life in America. So when The Help skyrocketed to the top of Netflix’s most viewed movies, things got a bit cringy.
The Help is a 2011 period drama, based on a book authored by a white woman, that told the story of race relations during the mid-20th century civil rights movement in Mississippi. The film tells the story of a girl named Skeeter (Emma Stone) who returns from college with dreams of being a writer. She freaks out her whole town when she decides to interview the Black women who have spent their lives taking care of prominent white families.
The #BlackLivesMatter community was not exactly thrilled with the sudden resurgence of popularity for the film considering the controversy behind the film, in that, the entire story is coated in the concept of the “white savior.”
'The Help' has been criticized for being a white savior movie.
The “white savior” narrative basically tells the story of white people “saving” Black people or other people of color from some sort of lesser life. Film critic and journalist, Wesley Morris, wrote about the issues with The Help back in 2011 for The Boston Globe.
He wrote, "Skeeter’s exposé is meant to empower both the subjects and the author, but The Help joins everything from To Kill a Mockingbird to The Blind Side as another Hollywood movie that sees racial progress as the province of white do-gooderism. Skeeter enjoys all the self-discovery and all the credit."
‘The Help’ actress, Bryce Dallas Howard, doesn’t recommend the movie either.
When the news that The Help was trending on Netflix, actress Bryce Dallas Howard, who portrayed the film’s socialite villain, tried to steer fans in another direction.
“I’m so grateful for the exquisite friendships that came from that film — our bond is something I treasure deeply and will last a lifetime,” she posted on Facebook. “This being said, The Help is a fictional story told through the perspective of a white character and was created by predominantly white storytellers. We can all go further.”
Bryce suggested adding the following titles to add to your streaming list: 13th, Eyes on the Prize, I Am Not Your Negro, Just Mercy, Malcolm X, Say Her Name: The Life And Death Of Sandra Bland, Selma, Watchmen, and When They See Us.
Viola Davis confessed that she regretted appearing in the film in 2018.
Actress Viola Davis told The New York Times that she wasn’t proud to be part of The Help despite even being nominated for her portrayal of Aibileen, in the best-lead-actress category for a Golden Globe and an Academy Award.
"I just felt that at the end of the day that it wasn’t the voices of the maids that were heard,” she told The New York Times, “I know Aibileen. I know Minny. They’re my grandma. They’re my mom. And I know that if you do a movie where the whole premise is, I want to know what it feels like to work for white people and to bring up children in 1963, I want to hear how you really feel about it. I never heard that in the course of the movie.”