The Help, Emma Stone, pleas, captive, force

Discussion (14) ¬

  1. Brian

    I remember the Sixth Sense being in theaters so long fondly. It was partly my fault it was out in my local place. I wasn’t old enough to see R-rated flicks that summer, but there was always a showing of the Sixth Sense conveniently around the time of some R-rated flick I wanted to see with a friend. It got to be such a habit that I bought tickets for it a couple of times that summer for PG-13 movies too.

  2. daniel

    Last panel – epic

    • David

      I concur. That last panel is very epic, and very well done. Kudos Tom.

  3. Britt

    I’m glad you felt the same way about The Help that I did. I’m not sure it’s possible to make a movie about Jim Crow laws in the 1950s/60s and not have some unintentional racial commentary on it, so I suppose there’s not much the filmmakers could have done differently. But I too felt like the main point of the movie was to make white people feel better about themselves. The audience identifies with the main character Skeeter, who, in “being brave and standing up for rights of the maids” makes the audience feel like they’re doing the strong and brave thing, too. It lets the audience say, “We don’t tolerate racial injustice! We’re proving it by seeing and enjoying this movie about black women standing up for themselves!” (*sigh*)

    But even though we’re meant to see her as brave, what Skeeter did was not necessarily courageous. Would SHE have gotten into trouble with the law for talking to the maids? Not nearly as much as the maids would have.

    And I felt like in the ending, (SPOILER) with Minnie and Aibileen being supportive of Skeeter’s move to New York and promising that they would take care of each other… it almost turned them into that “magical black person” trope you mentioned earlier. And the truth is, they probably *wouldn’t* have ended up okay. And Aibileen certainly isn’t going to make enough money writing to make up the difference of losing her already-low-paying job as a maid. It all just felt a little too…. neat and tidy for me.

    In the end, though, as you said — a perfectly reasonable entertainment. I just wish I felt a little better about it.

  4. Liam

    “To me, The Help looked like one of those movies specifically designed to make white people feel good – Emma Stone in the role of a “white savior” helping to liberate black women serving as maids to white families in early 60s Jackson, Mississippi.”

    I’ve seen this same sentiment expressed elsewhere.

    • Gordon

      In the New York Times, in my comic, in about a half a million blogs…

      It’s because there’s a whole lot of validity to it.

  5. Historyman68

    I like what you did with the format! I haven’t seen you use panels that shape or page layout like that before- it’s very effective.

    • Tom

      I’ve switched things up a a few times. Sometimes even doing single-panel comics!

      I try not to chain myself to the four-panel format. But it’s also a comfortable habit at times.

      • Historyman68

        Oh of course, yeah I didn’t mean to say this is the first time I’ve seen you do an irregular format, just that I like it when you do!
        And yes, I am believing more and more in the value of the regular grid- after all, Watchmen was almost all 3×3 grid!

  6. joule

    Not so much as a white savior as much as a comforting mirror with which liberal white women can look at their own personal choices in life and feel good. It’s all about how the young are morally superior because they can like see the hypocrisy in your boring middle class lives maaaan.
    I’m never going to be arrested, have dogs set upon me or be threatened with bodily harm. But hey! this movie says thats OK. I can join in the great cause by just..writing..gossip.
    A modern version of this movie would be called “The Private Jet” because back then only the uber wealthy in the North and South had maids. The “help” for the rest of us was Hoover, Kitchenaide, Frigidaire GE.

    • Tom

      As I’ve come to understand the trope of the white savior and the magical black man… the resulting affect is for whites to feel affinity toward black culture without having to know a black person on an individual level. So that kind of speaks to the level of comfort you were talking about.

      But you made an excellent point about the movie essentially being about gossip. I hadn’t thought of it like that before.

  7. Phil

    Good comic Tom, I’m sure we’ve all felt a little bit like that at one film or other. Call me cynical if you will ( I prefer sceptical ) but this film strikes me as the first Oscar bait of the year. This is how I see a year in cinema: there’s the summer tsunami of mostly rubbish blockbusters with a riptide of kids’ films ( mostly Pixar wannabes these days ). As the leaves turn the big budget films with worthy storylines and earnest characters played by Serious Actors like Tim Robbins and Meryl Streep start to pop up, like autumn mushrooms. There’s a few months of this, before the Christmas romcoms and more kiddie films roll in with the inevitable Coke adverts. This is punctuated around Halloween by a short rash of bad horror sequels, and the whole process is padded out with bad comedies, romcoms and Bourne ripoffs. After the Oscar winter kills all this off, there are a few weeks where films which were either so bad they were put back or far enough away from the mainstream get a release, before the cycle starts again. Once in roughly every thirty films something good appears.

  8. Jarod

    Hmmm… this situation seems familiar.

  9. Hello, Mr. Anderson

    I get what you’re saying about the whole “white savior” aspect of the film – that was an early criticism from even before The Help was released – and I agree with you about the whole Jessica Chastain storyline seeming out of place in the grand scheme of the story. Since it was based on the book, I guess they felt obliged to keep it in, especially when the director is the childhood friend of the book’s author.

    Still, is it wrong that I think this is the best movie released so far this year?

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