Elizabeth Eckford trying to go to school
Link to the picture: https://www.history.com/topics/black-history/central-high-school-integration

To visualize the Civil Rights era, I chose this picture of one of the Little Rock Nine members named Elizabeth Eckford walking to school for the first time. It is one of the most famous pictures from that time and is often used in history textbooks. The girl with the angriest expression in the background is called Hazel Bryan and she immediately became a symbol of white hatred. As of now, Hazel has apologized for her behavior and for a while, she and Elizabeth became friends and went to speak in different schools about racism and their story but after some time Elizabeth still felt like Bryan was using the story to get fame and the two haven´t spoken since 2001. Nevertheless, Hazel is working with a lot of charities and organisations helping minorities as she realized that what she did in her youth is wrong and nobody should have to tolerate that. I found this picture and story to be really interesting and it shows how on stupid thing you did while being 15 years old can haunt you and your children for the rest of your life. Even though Hazel has apologized, the picture will never go away and will be brought up for a long time. It also demonstrates the situation in the south as there are other white girls looking down on Elizabeth and the crazy thing is, it was only a little over 60 years ago.

The Review

“The Help” was a good film, on of my favorites we have watched. It had a nice combination of comedy and seriousness to convey the reasoning behind the film. But it definitely was not a perfect film either and had its flaws. I am going to bring out and discuss over some aspects of “The Help”.

To begin with, lets look over the main point of the film:

The Help wants to be a film about white women and black women coming together to work against injustice. But ultimately it’s too small and too petty a story that is too removed from the real atrocities of the Jim Crow South to be anything other than a vehicle through which an rich, white woman profits from the retelling of the histories and experiences of black women.”

Link to the review: https://genprogress.org/review-the-help-trades-historical-accuracy-for-a-cheery-story/

I must agree with this statement, I also felt like the idea of the film was to give the maids a right to speak and get to hear their side of the story but after watching “The Help” it seemed to be about a young white girls story to her dream job. Of course we had the maids stories and saw into their lives but the main character was Skeeter and her struggles were depicted in half of the film that leaves the other half to ALL the maids. What really made it for me was the ending of the film. We are left off at a place where Skeeter got her dream job and a new wardrobe to go to New York. The maids are still the maids, Minny is now working as a maid for a white couple who is not as racist but she still cleans and cooks for them. Aibileen got fired at the end and even though she speaks about the fact that she will be a writer, we know nothing else about it. I can´t imagine that she quit and became a successful writer just like that. That for me really robbed away from the idea I could feel was behind “The Help”.

Secondly, I will go over the historic accuracy of the film:

“The ABWH released an open statement to all the fans of The Help, citing their specific concerns with the “representations of black life and the lack of attention given to sexual harassment and civil rights activism.” The ABWH concluded by saying that they find it “unacceptable for either this book or this film to strip black women’s lives of historical accuracy for the sake of entertainment.” […] In the end, this is entertainment and the performances of the actresses and efficacy of the film should merit discussion and attention. Also, the book and film is historical fiction, right? I don’t think the author of the book, or the filmmakers, went about trying to “strip black women’s lives of historical accuracy.” I think, instead, they set about to make a moving and emotionally stunning film, and they succeeded.”

Link to the review: https://wegotthiscovered.com/movies/controversy-legitimate/

I can see where the Association of Black Women Historians (ABWH) are coming from and as a matter of facts, the film did focus more on the characters than the civil rights activism. “The Help” had many little easter eggs hidden throughout the film about real historically accurate things that happened during that time, for example the black man that was shot when Aibileen was riding on the bus (it stopped, the black people were demanded off the bus and whites were given rides home by the police) wasn´t made up. The man was Medgar Evers, a civil rights activist who was shot in front of his house on the driveway while his wife and three children were inside. But we cannot forget that the main focus was never to make a documentary about the black maids and their lives. I agree with the writer of the review that at the end of the day it is a film and quite frankly it is historically accurate in a lot of aspects, the fact that they did not go into detail about every thing that happened during that time in the South States was not a problem for me while watching “The Help”.

To sum up, it was a well-made film with incredible actresses. I do think that maybe the maids could have had a bigger role than Emma Stones´ character Skeeter to convey the idea of “The Help” a bit better. All in all, I enjoyed watching it, there were scenes that were hilarious, ones were I almost cried and isn´t making the audience feel something the point of every film?

Links used for the review:

The Notions

Little Rock Nine
Picture source: Bettmann/Bettmann Archive
Rosa Parks
Picture source: Rosa Parks / Ida Berman / 1955 / National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution / © Ida Berman
Martin Luther King Jr
Picture source: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

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