“The black artist cannot live in a revisionist place. The black artist can only tell the truth about humanity, and humanity is messy. People are messy. Caucasian actors know that. … We as African-American artists are more concerned with image and message and not execution, which is why every time you see your images they’ve been watered down to the point where they are not realistic at all. My whole thing is, do I always have be noble? As an artist, you’ve got to see the mess.”
– Actress Viola Davis responds to journalist Tavis Smiley regarding their roles in “The Help,” which has been criticized for being a “Hooray, White People Solved Racism” movie. Smiley told his guests, Viola and Octavia Spencer, that “I want you to win [an Oscar], but I’m ambivalent about what you’re winning for.” Whether you agree with Viola’s reply or not, it was earnest and, in my opinion, a refreshing response to the litany of complaints about “The Help” that have dogged it since the film came out. She’s probably sick of people saying this to her face and knowing people are saying it behind her back, too. [New York Times via YouTube]
“We have conservative African-Americans who will not see certain films, will only see Tyler Perry but will not see Spike Lee. …I know a lot of African-American women that didn’t want to see ‘The Help’ because they had lived it as little girls and it was a circumstance that shouldn’t have been and it was so problematic for them. It brought back horrible memories and they couldn’t see it, nor will they read the book.”
– Legendary actress Pam Grier offers a different take on the popularity of some African-American films over others. [ONTD]
Unavoidable this week: everybody going coo-coo-bananas about “The Help,” which opened in theaters last night. “The Help” is based on Kathryn Stockett’s novel of the same title, which tells the story of Skeeter, a young white woman who gets a job writing for her local newspaper in a small Mississippi town, and Aibileen, a black maid who works for one of Skeeter’s childhood friends. Skeeter returned from college to find all the friends she grew up with are married with children and employers to black “help,” who are second-class citizens in 1960′s Jackson, Mississippi. The story follows Skeeter as she interviews Aibileen and other black maids for a secret book project that exposes the ugly day-to-day racism in Jackson’s domestic life to the rest of the world.
Some critics, both armchair and professional, say the new flick starring Emma Stone, Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Bryce Dallas Howard, and Allison Janney is a white-washed, even racist version of the civil rights movement that praises a white woman as the savior of the poor black folks. (Cough “The Blind Side” cough.) They ask why Hollywood makes films about civil rights through the lens of white people, instead of giving due credit to the African-Americans who fought for their rights. And that is certainly a worthy question to ask.
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The Help by Kathryn Stockett
was one of my favorite books of 2010 — and millions of other readers agree. This summer, “The Help” hits the big screen, starring Emma Stone
as Skeeter, a white recent college graduate writing for the local newspaper in her Mississippi town, and Viola Davis
(“Doubt”) as Aibileen, a black maid who works for one of Skeeter’s friends. Skeeter comes home from college to find all the friends she grew up with are married with children and employers to black “help,” who are second-class citizens in 1960′s Jackson, Mississippi
. The story follows Skeeter as she interviews Aibileen and other black maids for a secret book project that exposes the ugly day-to-day racism
in Jackson’s domestic life to the rest of the world. While I was originally unconvinced that teen sex comedy queen Emma Stone was the right casting for the role of Skeeter, judging by the trailer for “The Help,” she carries it off with just the right amount of sass and spunk. [AOL
] Keep reading »
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. Keep reading »