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By Ployphet RastameephromFilm studies
Dr. Anngieline Lu
TMC Academy – School of IT, Digital Media & Mass Communication
Middle Road, Singapore
October 18, 2018
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Have you ever watch racism film? I would like to recommend this film, named The Help. I chose this movie due to many topics that have notions in this film and for me, nothing is more salient than the topic of racial intolerance.
“The Help” is a dramatic film about a volatile subject. Presenting itself as the story of how African-American maids in the South viewed their employers during an era of civil rights movement ( Jim Crow days) in Jackson, Mississippi, during the early 1960s, it is the story of how they empowered a young white woman to write a best-seller about them. This essay highlights black people in a patronizing way. The movie is an example of narratives of difference and the representation of the characters Miss Skeeter, Minny and Aibileen. The colored people are described as the slave whereas the whites are comprehend as the norm. Moreover, the essay includes analysis of drama genre, the representation of three characters, sociological and political representation.
Drama Film is serious story with facts, setting or life situation that portray realistic characters in conflict. This shows us human beings at their best, their worst, everything in-between and aims to tell an honest story of human struggles. This film shows a lot of dramatic issues. For example, Jackson was a flashpoint for the civil rights movement and it was a dangerous and violent place. Due to the news of the murder of Medger Evers, he joined the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). As a field worker for the NAACP, Evers traveled through his home state encouraging poor African Americans to register to vote and recruiting them into the civil rights movement. After that, He was killed by white supremacist named, Byron De La Beckwith. This case shows how the whites intimidated black people and it is one of the reason why the blacks are not dare to resist the whites. Refer to the scene in movie, when Skeeter ask for help to write the book that she believe the book would help put an end to the brutality against black people, a number of maids refuse it because of fright and anger . “what makes you think colored people need your help? , Why you even care about this? You white” One of the maid named, Minnie says. It shows fury and those two reasons makes movie into drama film.
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The representation of three characters
There are three main characters of this movie; Skeeter, Minnie and Aibileen. I would like to present analysis how different those three persons represent social issues in America 1960s in their own ways.
First, Skeeter is in many ways described as an innocent and educated. In the beginning of the movie she says, “by sixteen I wasn’t just not pretty, I was painfully tall. The kind of tall that puts a girl in the back row of class pictures with the boys. The kind of tall where your mother spends her nights taking down hems, yanking sweater sleeves, flattening your hair for dances you had not been asked to” (Stockett 57). By picturing herself as not pretty and tall can give me an innoxious view of her, although it can also point her as weak and in need of saving. Furthermore, her behavior makes her friends overstate the feeling of her as feeble. For example in movie, when Skeeter and her friends Hilly and Elizabeth are talking and Aibileen ;black maid comes to serve them tea, her friends start to talk about separation toilet for black maid. “They carry different diseases than we do, that is why I have drafted the Home health Sanitation Initiative ” Hilly says. Skeeter knows it is not proper, she try to talk in other news because she cares about the feeling of Blacks. However, she never confronts her friends about their bad behavior. Furthermore, Skeeter is described as naive. When she asks Aibileen if she wants to help her write the book, Aibileen answers ” ‘Miss Skeeter’, I do this with you, I might as well burn my own house down” (Aibileen). This scene present Skeeter or most of the whites do not seem to realize how dangerous it can be for Black people telling their views in the relationship between white and black people. Instead, she thinks about the sarcasm of the relationship between the maids and their employers: “I would like to write about this showing the point of view of the help. They raise a white child and then twenty years later the child becomes the employer. It is that sarcasm, that we love them and they love us but we do not even allow them to use the toilet in the house” (Skeeter). This scene, Skeeter try to clarify the relationship, which results in neglect not only of the reality of racist violence but also of the individuality of the black. She represent that the whites are not only intimidate but some of them still would like to help Black people. Even if in the movie Skeeter is the one who is supposed to fight for the colored people, shows her patronising attitude towards people who are not the same as she is.
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Second, Minnie represents for maid who has fury to her old employer. During the terrible storm, Minnie refuses to go out to use the help’s toilet where is outside and uses the guest’s bathroom, resulting in her getting fired by Hilly, who then slanders her name with claims of theft, rendering her essentially unemployable. This is example confirm why Minnie hate whites and why she revenge Hilly. Minny calls Aibileen and tells her “I ain’t telling. I ain’t telling nobody about that pie. But I give her what she deserve! I ain’t never gone get no work again, Leroy gone kill me” (Minnie). This shows the reason why she tells herself to tuck it in at Celia’s porch, since she is afraid not to get work ever again. Minny’s actions she both obeys and resists the white culture. Her act with the pie shows her resistance against the white system and its values, but she also tries to conform to the white norm. In my opinion, her role represent Blacks who are accused and also who is accuse whites.
Third, Aibileen is portrayed as a stereotypical maid. In movie, She is really attached to Mae Mobley, the white child she takes care of. Mae Mobley says “I know, I’m your real baby” This sentence shows a social issue that is whites are not care their children enough and it makes kids feel unimportant. Some of them grow up without enough love and attention. Mae Mobley is neglected and verbally abused by her mother Elizabeth. She start to believe these things are her fault. Therefore Aibileen changes the girl’ s mind, she always tells the girl how important she is and when she is dismissed from her work, she wants Mae Mobley to remember what she has taught her. “Baby Girl, ‘I need you to remember everything I told you. Do you remember what I told you?’ ‘You are kind’, she say, ‘you are smart. You are important'”. This represent how kind black maid is, they are not poor and uneducated as whites think they are. Aibileen is not only portrayed as the stereotypical maid. One example is when Mae Mobley goes to Aibileen’s toilet and her mother screams to her “this is dirty out here, Mae Mobley. You’ll catch diseases! No no no!” (Elizabeth). In the movie white and black people were supposed to have separate bathrooms since according to the white people, black people were dirty. This in itself tells about one of the many conflicts that occur in the movie. On the one hand, the colored people are not allowed to use the whites’ bathrooms because they have diseases and are dirty. However, the white people want them to clean their houses, cook their food and take care of their children. In addition, at the end of the movie Mae Mobley has colored herself black in nursery, because she was told to draw what she liked the most about herself. However, her teacher said to her that black means that she has dirty and bad face. When Aibileen hears about this she feels disappointed,
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“After all the time I spent teaching Mae Mobley how to love all people, not judge by color. I feel a hard fist in my chest because what person out there don’t remember they first-grade teacher? Maybe they don’t remember what they learn, but I’m telling you, I done enough kids to know, they matter” (Aibileen). This shows that Aibileen is the one who actually shows some reasonable thoughts about how the relationship between whites and colored people could be.
Refer to the Home health Sanitation Initiative. This is a bill that would require white homes to have an outside toilet for the Negro help. By introducing this new law, Hilly is giving new guidelines to how Americans are supposed to live and what they are supposed to do, if they’re living in the south especially. I believe that everyone has good inside of them and a positive conscious that tells them what is wrong and what is right and that is why Skeeter was more open to the idea of integration than her social group of friends. But those other women grew up being told how to think and how to behave and what their actions are supposed to say and do say about the kind of person that they are. (American dream) Moreover, I think this represent the political issue that why their government allow to do this the Home health Sanitation Initiative. In spite of knowing that is racial discrimination.
To sum up, the book is to highlight the relationship between white and black people. Skeeter marks black people as not as good as whites, both through their language and the way they are addressed. Thereafter the patronizing attitude towards them just continues.
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The Help, 2011. Online (updated 20 Oct.2011) Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Help_(film) Accessed 31 Sep.2018
Buffam, N.,2011. Drama Onine (updated 14 Mar.2011) Available at https://thescriptlab.com/screenplay/genre/952-drama/ Accessed 31 Sep.2018
The Help Film,2012. Onine (updated 12 May.2012) Available at http://the-help-film.wikia.com/wiki/The_Help_Film_Wiki Accessed 7 Oct.2018
Malley, S.,2011. A movie about a white woman who told the story of the suffering of black women Online (updated 8 Sep.2011) Available at https://www.politico.com/states/new-york/city-hall/story/2011/08/ Accessed 7 Oct.2018
The American dream,2011. Onine (updated.2011) Available at https://margeekolozsvary.weebly.com/home-health-sanitation-initiative.html Accessed 8 Oct.2018