I finally watched The Help. Is it worse than Green Book? (review)



hey guys it's me Kim how are you doing I'm great thank you so much for asking I feel like I have my fire engine red 50 slip on right now and that is appropriate because I'm gonna talk about the help even though the help is set in the early 60s anyways so in my last video I talked about all of my issues with green book and boy do I have a lot of issues with green book and somebody sent me an email asking about Octavia Spencer and the fact that she seems to be involved with a lot of these kind of movies you know she's in the she's in a lot of the hey made hey made hey may I say you gotta you may ask for like you always do movies and I could not send them back a thoughtful or interesting reply because I haven't seen the help I know so the help came out back in 2011 and for the past seven or eight years I've just been avoiding it but I reel in you'll say how have you been avoiding it you made a joke about the help in your last video because I'm really good at that I can pick up all of the jokes then I love you know the memes and stuff but I haven't seen it I have not sat down and watched the movie I've been avoiding it but I recognized that as a cultural critic and as an analyst I can't keep going without seeing the help because that movie has now become kind of a shorthand for white Savior films in general I mean that is like the contemporary exemplar of the white Savior movie so I have to watch it if I'm really gonna you know be talking to y'all thoughtfully about this stuff of course in typical confession I watched it I read up on the author really did a lot of research on the author and read lots of critiques of that film so the help came out as a movie in 2011 but before it was a movie it was a hugely successful book I mean this book sold over five million copies I don't know if y'all understand but that's like thriller okay that's the thriller of books 5 million books that's that's crazy and also that five million number is from an article from my 2012 the help could have sold like 8 million books by now that's nuts what's even crazier is I had never even heard of this book until the movie came out I mean this is a book that was on the New York Times bestseller list for a year I had never heard of it two Americas there are two Americas and I also think that that's us something about the target dough of this book I was in college at this time but still still how did it not get on my radar at all right cuz it's not for me I'm not the target demo I watched the movie it's a two and a half hour film with so many famous actresses the amazing Viola Davis Octavia Spencer Allison Janney Emma Stone is that her name Bryce Dallas Howard Sissy Spacek like all of these people that we know like famous actresses and I didn't hate it I didn't hate the move like much to my surprise I didn't hate it I actually enjoyed it and I understand why people would like it and I understand why so many black people that I know liked it on first watch I did really liked it but once I scratched that surface a little bit once I did some digging and some reading and some research and did some real good analysis that's when I noticed that there are huge issues with this film like colossal issues let's get into what made me like the film initially I love the South I love the stuff I don't want to live outside of the south I don't plan on doing that unless I'm unlucky enough to marry somebody who has to live outside of the South I'm not and I love Jackson Mississippi like love that frickin city I would move there absolutely I would move there no hesitation so those beautiful sweeping shots of Jackson were right up my alley right up my alley totally for me and speaking of those shots the look of the film was just beautiful the houses were beautiful the cinematography was beautiful the bright vibrant colors and the settings were beautiful the costumes were beautiful I like that I really like aesthetics I also like that this is a story about domestic workers I think we need more stories about domestics not fewer I love that Roma was made and widely celebrated you know if you are from where I'm from then you have some domestic workers in your family in your family tree I cringe when I see people say I don't want to see that and black people are and I'm like but that is actually a part of our history and that history deserves to be celebrated don't embarrass your ancestors or your four mothers by acting embarrassed of them like you that's really icky to me black domestic workers are so central to so much civil rights work domestics are the group of women who brought down Montgomery during the Montgomery bus boycott like they're the unsung heroes in a lot of ways of black history black American history and black culture and so I just am never in favor of trying to minimize that I think more stories about that I liked that this movie was more or less honest about white woman's role in racial terror I liked that the white women except for one in this movie were nasty they're a mean they were negligent to their children they were incompetent they were selfish they were spoiled I like that in 2019 every woke white woman thinks that she would be Viola Liuzzo but no you probably wouldn't okay you're probably not taking a bullet for the cause you probably be miss hilly and like let's be honest about that and I love that in comparison to the white women it was the black women who were competent and caring and thoughtful and eloquent and witty oh and obviously they're the bravest people in this field I like that we saw abling and many as the most self-aware people in this movie you've know Lord but I'm gonna have to kill that woman I believe now she gonna couldn't pill some Alzheimer totally mm-hmm but I carry paper yeah from home damn house it was that double consciousness that the voice talks about right that they could see themselves and their world and very clearly they could see the white world for what it is and the white women were just you know ditzy and vapid and didn't do anything could not fend for themselves at all and I like that they didn't just run to Skeeter as a savior they were suspicious of her they were uneasy they didn't just welcomed her in particularly many maybe things can change what Moscow say you got to be nice to your maid I have to do this now a minute you damn right I don't you to give me heart palpitations I saw people critique how cartoonishly the racism in this film was depicted but I actually liked that the central tension in this movie is around bathrooms because it highlights how absurd segregation was how absurd racism is you don't want to share a bathroom with people who are cooking your food who are taking care of your kids like that's ridiculous and just what are you doing and reminding me of there's this book by Gunnar Myrdal he's a really famous social scientist it's called American dilemma and he talks about segregation really being about fear of miscegenation a fear of sex you know and there's like certain kinds of intimacy during segregation that people were just so scared of and so afraid of but other kinds of intimacy were perfectly normal and in fact white society could not exist literally it would crumble without certain forms of intimate contact with black folks it's interesting I don't know I'm fascinated by that and you know the acting in this movie was just good they hired the right people I liked who I was supposed to like I didn't like who I wasn't supposed to like I just I got invested in the narrative after this movie was finished I thought huh they did exactly what they were supposed to do they did what they set out to do I absolutely believed that the director Tate Taylor made the film that he wanted to make and I believe that this is the film that Kathryn Stockett the author of the help-wanted and that is good in a technical sense but really bad when you take a step back I had much bigger issues with green book as a film that I did with the help as a film because green book begins and ends with a Belene we hear her thoughts and we hear her voice and we also hear more from the maids throughout this film green book is a movie about a white man that's different you know saying at least in the help the white women and the black women are on equal footing most of the time Green Book is a movie by the white man that tries to pretend like it's about a black man that's the problem now as much as I appreciate this movie beginning and ending with a Belene once I took a step back and did some research on this book and how it was made and the author's point of view I thought oh well maybe we didn't really we didn't really hear from the help in this book we didn't and that's really why it's not it's not a good movie the help is a movie that is very structurally sound but somatically and in its storytelling it is piss-poor it's really really bad because we cannot trust Catherine stopped it as a storyteller that's usually what it comes down to when we're talking about movies about black life that are made by white folks can I trust you the help is complete fiction like a total fabrication and I was kind of appalled by that after watching interviews with Kathryn Stockett she said that she had this made or domestic or cooker whatever you want to call her name Demetri and she was so close to demetri demetri worked in her family for 50 years and Kathryn Stockett was so close to Demetri but she realized that she didn't know anything about dimitris life so she wrote a fictional novel to explore it that doesn't make sense Kathryn what Kathryn says Demetri worked with her family or for her family is probably more accurate to say for 50 years and in those 50 years she developed no intimate relationship with her she says that she only saw Demetri outside of her white maids uniform for the first time at her funeral yet she had such deep care and affection for this woman something is wrong there Kathryn who was only like 40 or 41 at the time that the book was published that means that she was not alive and kicking in the 60s that means this is a real fictionalized account didn't really indicate that she'd done any research to write this book no interviews no archival work no talking to scholars she just made it up that's troubling to me so you decided to write a story to amplify the voices of the black domestic workers of your childhood without actually talking to those domestic workers now that's just hubris I mean that is just straight-up arrogance to me but then there's another layer because one of the three protagonists in the help is named abling Clark but it turns out that Catherine's brother had a maid named a blinker and abling Cooper suit Catherine for using her likeness and her name without her permission not only the Catherine use a balloons name but the real abling had a son who died before she started working for the sockets it's just unethical so after watching and reading all of these interviews with Kathryn Stockett I've kind of come to the conclusion that her writing this book over several years was the way that she processed all the guilt she felt about not recognizing that this lifestyle is wrong until she was in her 30s she said her early to mid 30s was when she recognized something wasn't right but is this the best way to process that guilt now we have this wildly successful book written by a white woman about black woman's lives that also centers a white woman that's kind of in in Catherine's own image and the book is already bad it's already bad but the film exacerbates the flaws of the book so I haven't really described what the hell the the movie slash book is actually about it's about Skeeter who graduates from Ole Miss and goes back to her home in Jackson Mississippi where she decides that she wants to be a writer she gets a really crappy job at the local newspaper and she's reintegrated into this society that she grew up in with basically spoiled brat white debutante she doesn't fit in anymore she's the progressive one she's liberal one and she recognizes that the way that her old friends treat their domestic help their domestic workers is horrible Skeeter decides that she is going to be on the side of righteousness she is going to work with the maids to tell their story so Skeeter with the help of abling and Minnie publishes an anonymous book about the horrors of being a domestic worker in Jackson Mississippi it becomes a best-seller and it's happily ever after I mean that's basically any blame played by Viola Davis and Minnie played by Octavia Spencer are great they are wonderful in this film but this is also a film very much about Skeeter who's played by Emma Stone Emma Stone Skeeter is the one who was curating these women's voices it does not happen without Skeeter there's no real reason for this book to be written in this way black American history is American history as a kid who has loved history for all my life I have always been expected to be able to see my life in George Washington Crossing the Delaware but we have to have movies and books like the help because white people literally cannot see themselves in black people they literally cannot empathize with black folks so they have to artificially insert themselves into black narratives there's no real reason why you would make a book about black women questioning inequality in the south black women fighting for their civil rights and have a white woman in their doing the same amount of work or more work than the black woman that does not it's not the truth it's that's a lie that's a lot there are just so many layers of foolishness in this film and one of them is at the very beginning before we really get into the real action of the movie and it is Skeeter becomes a columnist at the local newspaper and she gets a cleaning column and she decides that in order to complete her cleaning column she is going to mine a blintz ideas she's going to take ideas from a baleen for her cleaning column and pass them off as her own so that she can boost her own career in journalism and that's not even presented as a problem in this movie the fact that Skeeter is stealing from a baleen is never rectified in the film at least in the book a baleen gets the job at the newspaper and Skeeter goes off and becomes you know a best-selling journalist or whatever in the movie is just we just shrug it off we never talk about it and back to white women and black women being placed on equal plain so this is very much an all lives matter movie like we all have to hold hands and come together but that's not real that's not historically accurate when we pretend like the work and the stakes of black women and white women during this time period were the same we ignore that the risks for black women questioning the system at this time were astronomical Skeeter risked losing her friends she lost her boyfriend she got into fights with her parents and her family or whatever but the black women who were fighting back were literally risking their lives and we never in this film get an accurate feel for what the stakes are the movie is so sunny and so bright and so vibrant that we don't ever really get to internalize the darkness of all this like when many goes to Hilly's house and she feeds her the pie mini feeds hilly the pie and it's funny and hilly gets sick and she runs away and the sissy spacek character who is Hilly's mom says run away mini run away and I'm like me is running for her life right now yeah like that scene is played for laughs and it's like hard even whatever but then you realize what the real stakes are I mean if this is like a ring if this were a real incident many would be risking literally being strung up we don't we don't feel that in this movie and I think that tension is very important I don't even really think we feel the stakes after Hilly's new-made gets arrested and we kind of see a little bit of police brutality but it's not on screen I mean like it's not a fun light thing you know it is disorienting to go from like light-hearted romp to these very serious and potentially lethal situations and then we get to the very end of the movie when we see Skeeter has risked relatively little I mean she don't have a man she fell out with her friends but ultimately she gets everything she wanted in life she gets to be a writer she gets to be a best-selling author but what did the women get what did a Blaine and Minnie get did they get to ride off in the sunset and get everything that they want out of life now the end of this movie is abling quitting her job and kind of telling off her former employer but then she just kind of walks down a Jackson Mississippi Street and in reality like if we're being honest about what the trajectory of what her life was probably like it was not a crystal stair I don't know it's a glass over that a little bit irresponsible you know because these women are still left in segregated Mississippi and not one of them doesn't have a job I think one thing that the book does do better than the film is the book does actually talk more about the violence that accompanies violating these boundaries in the book a woman is actually blinded for accidentally using the wrong bathroom and you know what maybe the moral of this story is we shouldn't make fictional pg or maybe this is a pg-13 movie about segregation maybe maybe we don't need to do that because a lot of people are actually getting their historical knowledge from films if you are a why person watching the help this history is presented to you in a way that makes you feel like you're Skeeter thankfully we live in a time where historians have dedicated lots of resources to studying the lives and the political work and activism of domestic workers so we don't just have to make it up what would have really made the storytelling of this movie good is it's the filmmaker or Kathryn Stockett really reckoned with the sentimentality so much of this story is about Skeeter's love for Constantine and of course Constantine is Demetri in Kathryn Stockett SRI life but in the movie Constantine is still painted as a magical negress I mean there is a scene in there where Constantine is basically like Tinkerbell like clap you can do it you can do it Skeeter and it's like come on now come on now let's really think about what Constantine is in your life who she is to you what she does for you and how little you give back to her in skeeters mind there's this real deep love and affection between her and Constantine but that is something that we really need to interrogate because real love fundamentally is about reciprocity it's about mutuality so we see what constatine has given to Skeeter over all these years that Skeeter is basically a mess without Constantine but we never got a feel for what Skeeter or her family gave back to Constantine the help does allow Skeeter to avoid the fact that she and her family have been exploiting this woman for 30 years and then they threw her out over something relatively minor that is what we need to interrogate okay so the hell does with all-white say free movies do which is have the the white savior role always pointing the finger out right I'm the good racist you're the bad racist but the good racists need to be taken down too oh I forgot to mention that Kathryn Stockett and the director of this film take Taylor were childhood friends they grew up together and to Mississippi so they're both coming from this very narrow idea of what life was like as a white person in as a black person like it's just too myopic and when I really thought about this movie and what I really liked about it what really drew me in is the brilliance of Octavia Spencer and Viola Davis if this movie does any work to chip away at that mammy ideal that is completely fictional by the way it's because those women are so good and so brilliant and they brought so much life and fullness to these roles and you know Octavia Spencer won an Oscar for this role so of course for the longest time I've never heard Octavia Switzer say anything bad about the help but last year for the first time Viola Davis came out and said that she is not proud of this movie because it is not coming from the point of view of the help you know we had this with green book – you're trying to pass this off as something that it's not this is a movie about a white girl and about a white woman's voice and her experience and her understanding of race in Jackson Mississippi in the 60s it is not a movie about the experiences of black women domestic workers in the 60s that's a completely different movie that's all I have to say about that I enjoyed this film much more than I thought I would but ultimately it is another poorly researched white saviour film that is rescued by the brilliance of the black actors in it if I didn't have the critical eye that I do if I didn't love to do research as much as I do I would have loved this movie a lot a lot more because I didn't like it when I first saw it I did I did liked it a lot when I first saw it but then you know you unwrapped the gift and you know it's a piece of coal inside ultimately but like I said this is a better film to me than Green Book I think it got closer to its intended goal than Green Book did but you know neither of them are accurate depictions of Black History which is a real issue thank you guys so much for watching I appreciate you of course I made a companion video up on patreon right now of course there's a companion video up on patreon right now it answers the questions if I trust white women and if I think I could be friends with white women so obviously that's patrons only hit over a man to check that out send me an email leave a comment sign up for the email newsletter by some March I appreciate you thank you bye have a good day

34 thoughts on “I finally watched The Help. Is it worse than Green Book? (review)

  1. I was in my junior year of high school when this came out and had read the book in book club. I enjoyed both the book and the movie but it did give me a feeling I couldn't quite place which I now realize the white savior complex kinda made me feel weird and how this white woman wrote a whole book where she had to draw from her experience (and research?) of black folks to make the story feel real and that always makes me feel odd. But even in all of that I guess it was a decent and pretty successful attempt.

  2. totally normal and basic for me to be able to empathise with the position, emotional range and personal struggles from the perspective of another human that happens to be of another race or gender.
    Your broad brush strokes paint a really depressing and uninformed picture of the human condition.
    Im sorry that things are the way that they are.

  3. I went to high school in Shreveport, Louisiana and I watched this in one of my all white classes. It was not fun

  4. I think an interesting thing said here is that white people can't relate to black characters or anything until they have a white surrogate. my initial response was, well I can relate to black characters most of the time in stories, obvi i have no idea what the real black experience is like but… and then I realized that it wasn't until I came out as transgender, and felt rejected by my family and culture that I started relating to black characters in that way. I felt rejected by my own culture so being LGBT became a culture, and because my people(the gays) include a lot of black people, like the mother of our community herself, Marsha Johnson, and other activists and such, I have this mindset now where I don't have to look like the character to put myself in their shoes. I think it's really sad that we're so racialized that white people have to feel rejected to break out of that rigid "you're not like me, you're less than me" mindset.

  5. I’m always fascinated about the fact that during slavery, black women would often breastfeed the white children that they were forced to take care of (wet nurses)…but felt black people were subhuman…

  6. My biggest critic of The Help, and most movies that depict black domestic servants, is that middle aged black women are always cast as the maids. Not that middle aged women are not beautiful and sexy but casting is intentional so the movies do not have to address the rampant sexual assault that black domestic workers endured. Most domestic workers were young black women and if they casted Halle Berry as a maid, they would have to talk about it. If rich white women are being raped by their bosses in nyc penthouses, imagine what disenfranchised black domestic servants were going through.

  7. I'm a new subbie I love your energy, intelligence, fairness, and wisdom as a young black woman. 👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾Great commentary. 💯

  8. I did not know that there was an actual book out there🤦🏾‍♀️. Glad I only watched the movie

  9. I had never heard about the book until the movie, then when the movie came out it was raved about by every fake-woke self-righteous white lady I know so I actively avoided it.

  10. The "good racists" are so much more of problem than the bad ones. Even when they are confronted by the fact that they prop up a system still with their "good works" they will still continue tbh

  11. I'd be interested in your views on Hidden Figures because it definitely still has the white savior narrative and takes some liberties with history that I found bothered me, but I'm a white person so maybe there's an aspect of that which I am missing.
    Like, the bathroom segregation stuff with Katherine. It was dramatic and emphasized inequality but it just didn't happen. I think it's true that there was only one Colored Restroom at NASA and that it was far away but Katherine didn't use it. Katherine just used the White Restroom. And it's not like there was any resistance to Katherine doing so either.

    I dunno it definitely took me out of the movie. But it was effective. I saw the movie with my parents and one of them loved that scene.

  12. I guess I'm not evolved enough and my great grandmother was a domestic worker. This movie had a few good scenes but sucked over all and I have no intrest in reading the book or books provided in this type of narrative. Your review is on point. Thank you!

  13. That a white woman wrote a fictional story about African American women and the possible impact or meaning it can carry seems interesting when viewing it through Barthe's theory of the death of the author.

  14. It's kind of odd that the author would use Aibleen's likeness like that, when in the book itself, the characters bring up about changing all the names, including the name of the town.

  15. I love your critiques on movies and TV shows. You give such a colorful and closer real view about over-praised hollywood works, the breakdown of the white savior, and the racism that exists. Please don't stop this is so needed in our culture today.

  16. As an asian girl in Canada I watched this movie with my mom when it came out and never considered the problematisms with this film. Thanks for rehashing it’s plot and the way deeper problems of race are not addressed within this iconic film!

  17. I think green book was more “heinous” for lack of a better term. Like Green Book was a whole fucking lie and white boy was supposedly racist af. With The Help, aside from being exploitative, it doesn’t seem as bad as Green Book. But the white savior bullshit is ALLLL over The Help. You ain’t never lie about that.

  18. Well I wouldn’t say the Minnie and Abilene got nothing because Minnie finally was able to find a family that appreciates her and doesn’t make her feel like she can’t take a shit in her house

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