August 24, 2011

Film Critic Quote of the Week

John McWhorter, defending "The Help"

AT THE END of the day, it is hard to see what The Helpís creators could have done that would have passed muster. Those ever seeking for Hollywood to ďcome to termsĒ with black people have developed such an imposing battery of objection tropes over the past forty years that I suspect they would reject even Raisin in the Sun as a bag of stereotypes if it were new... Letís try a version of The Help that might pass muster with its current critics. The maids would hold the white children at a polite armís length. Eversí murder would be the dramatic focus. The white men behind it would be the main characters, while the maidsí women employers would be background figures. Also, to assuage a common strain in the criticisms, an obscure, very humble working-class black maid of modest education in 1963 would sense it plausible to pen a protest manuscript herself and send it to publishers, rather than rely on Skeeter to do the writing and submission.

To wit: The film that The Help should have been would be psychologically implausible, dramatically reductive, preachy, and not The Help at all. I cannot accept that this would be preferable for any reason to the solid, affecting Hollywood drama that I took in.

I see all the criticisms of the film, but I liked it anyway.

Posted by Stephen Silver at August 24, 2011 02:43 PM
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