Uh oh: the author of The Help, the wildly popular novel about black housemaids and nannies in the 1960′s racist, segregated South that everyone has read and loved, is getting sued! Kathryn Stockett has been accused by her brother’s maid, Ablene Cooper of Mississippi, of stealing her likeness for the main character, named Aibileen, in The Help, and portraying her poorly. She’s asking for $75,000 in damages and allegedly has the support of Stockett’s own brother and sister-in-law in her litigious quest. Ablene Cooper, who still works for Stockett’s brother and sister-in-law, claims that she was the inspiration for Aibileen the character — a black maid who is arguably the hero of the book. Both Ablene the woman and Aibileen the character are called “Aibee,” had a gold tooth, and lost a grown son just as the family she cares for welcomes a new child. One claim from the lawsuit is that Aibileen the character sees a cockroach and describes it as “black. Blacker than me.” Ablene Cooper said she would never say such a thing and claims the use of her name and likeness makes her seem like a person “who uses this kind of language and compares her skin colour to a cockroach.” Um, okay.
Stockett’s publisher said there is no merit to the lawsuit and I’m inclined to agree: all fiction is based off something. I guess you’re not really successful until someone tries to get their hands on your pile of money, right?