Film “The Help”- Katarina

“The Help”

The fifth movie we watched in our English class was “The Help”. and this photo was taken during the March on Washington in 1963. In the movie we could see a clip of Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech “I Have a Dream” , which took place at the massive protest march in support of the civil rights movements. On the photo you can see white and black people standing together and holding hands and protesting for equal rights.


Discussion questions

(Despite having these questions here, in the lesson we didn’t ask them all and had to improvise at times because we did not have much time to go over everything in detail and we adapted ourselves to the nature of the discussion.)

At the beginning of the movie, what does the following scene tell us (about the mindset of African-Americans): Aibileen is asked: “Did you know that you’d become a maid?”, Aib answered, “Yes because my mama was a maid, my grandma was a house-slave”? (even though dreamed of being something else)tt

How does Aib’s quote: “God minds no colour when he decides to let tornado loose,” describe her worldview?

A: It gives the feeling that she believes everyone is equal in front of god and this might be one of the reasons throughout the movie she endures the discrimination. Maids put great emphasis on religion; God knows the value of each person and despite the discrimination by whites, His judgement will be righteous if you have lived your life to the best of your capabilities (morally, physically) which inspires them to live correctly.

Let’s discuss the scene where the new maid, after Minny, in Hilly’s house asks to lend money for his boys to be able to go to college, Hilly refuses and responds: “As a Christian, I’m doing you a favour, god does not give charity to those who are well and able, u have to come up with that money on your own.” – Even though being miserly goes rather against the Christian values, what does her interpretation of it say about fulfilling Christianity’s purpose?

A: Christianity was created largely to prevent people from acting immorally, she is using it in a completely adverse way. Does this mean Christianity’s values might be described/propagated too vaguely if people are able to bend the 10 commands this way?-> and what’s the impact of religion on Southern white people? A: Big impact, always has been. Found justification from religion to profit from economic development.   

What do you think Hilly meant in the scene where she does not want to use the bathroom she thinks Aib had used and when Skeeter tries to make fun of the situation, Hilly says: “You shouldn’t joke about the coloured situation, I do whatever it takes to protect our children.” ->Describe the irony here.

A: the women made very little effort to even deal with their children and it was all done by black maids.

What made these  “housewives” be racist, why are they ‘blind’ and unable to see the injustice?

Social norms. Parents.

Why do the children turn out racist when they actually loved their maids in their childhood

Parents are their mentors, they don’t know any other way to be.

What were some of the things that black people/the maids were not allowed to do, compared to whites, that were shown in the movie? Why?

A: Use the same toilet, eat at the same table, talk to them informally, talk back, be interviewed, use the same books as a white person at school, ride on the bus at the same part. The white people thought of them as dirty and for that reason didn’t want to use the same items. They also felt superior and thought they could act however they want and have power over these people.

What details did you notice that the filmmakers had given to African-Americans’ everyday lives?

A: They had to ride a separate bus to white families. They were not allowed to talk to white people. They had work on top of work. Constantly disrespected.

Same question about wealthy white women.

Gender role differences? What were the strengths and limitations of being a woman

To elaborate on the subject, why was Stuart (skeeter’s bf) so upset with Skeeter?

A: probably cos of the book cos he was a racist.-> “U a selfish woman Skeeter,” – What does this tell us about his intelligence/ability to see the bigger picture,  elucidate us the irony.

What role does a man play in each family->how do the women react to those roles; are they satisfied, furious etc?

A: In most families, the man is the one earning the money, the white women seem to be pretty satisfied with sitting around the house all day and hosting parties. In Minny’s case, the man is abusive and dictating. It makes her angry and scared but she’s dependent on him, so she can’t leave. Skeeter, on the other hand, doesn’t really want to get married and is very independent, speaks bluntly what’s in her mind.

Aibileen kept repeating to the child she took care of “You is kind, you is smart, you is important”, why do you think was it so accentuated/ why was it so pronounced in the movie?

A: She probably wanted the child to grow up kind and not be racist like the women at that time, also she knew that her own mother wasn’t giving her any love but Aibileen loved all those children like her own. It might have been so pronounced to show that despite the rudeness of the white women and how much they hated them, the maids still cared for the children like their own and loved them.

Historical Accuracy and Opinion

“The Help” a moving story about the 1960s black experience in the deep South. It follows the lives of two black maids, Aibileen and Minny, and a young white woman, Skeeter, who is determined to get the help’s stories out. The movie takes place in 1963, Jackson, Mississippi and it’s based on Kathryn Stockett’s 2009 novel of the same name.

Firstly, many people feel offended by the fact that this movie gained so much poplarity.

“It is drawing fire from significant corners who are criticizing the glowing brush strokes with which the era is painted.”

I think I can agree with this, because was definitely fun to watch and didn’t leave almost any negative feelings.

“I was drawn into the characters and quite moved, even though all the while I was aware it was a feel-good fable, a story that deals with pain but doesn’t care to be that painful.”

However, to be honest, movies that are supposed to make you feel bad or think about the inequality (in this case black people vs. white people) have to be a little harsh and more straightforward, so that it would be unpleasent to watch even. This leaves a mark for everyone (like in “Glory” when one of the colored soldiers was whipped).

“The movie’s most powerful moment comes at the end, through the tears of a child, and it italicizes the pain of change. The Help is never better than in its closing moments.”

So, the movie made the whole situation too good and some people felt that the movie itself was racist.

Secondly, I would like to say that I really enjoyed watching “The Help” and its rather good historical accuracy. I also realized that while watching the movie, you don’t exactly have to focus on memorising the history, because for me they just stand out and I remember them. For example that the colored people were supposed to use different toilettes or that they had to sit on one side of the bus. However if the main goal for watching the movie is to learn aboout the history and the Civil Rights Era, I suppose the movie is not the perfect match, becuse it also focuses on making the whole situation fun to watch, whilst the maids themselves were not exactly enjoying their life situation at the time.

In conclusion, the movie was rather accurate but not harsh enough. I would definitely recommend watching it, if you want to have a nice movie night. It shows how things were in the past, yet you do not get bored at all at the same time.

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