The Help is being called out after trending on Netflix amid George Floyd protests
8 June 2020, 15:51
Tessa Thompson shares peaceful Black Lives Matter protest video
The Help has been widely criticised by black viewers for being a white saviour film.
The Help has just topped Netflix's Top 10 streaming list in the US amid protests for George Floyd and Black Lives Matter.
Last month (May 25), George Floyd, a black man, was murdered by a white Minneapolis police officer. His death came after the killing of Breonna Taylor, a black woman, who was shot by a Louisville police officer in her own home (Mar 13). On May 27, Tony McDade, a black trans man, was shot by Florida police officers.
Following their murders and the racist killings of countless other black people, people have taken to the streets to protest police brutality, demand justice and call for genuine change. Black people are also asking white people to educate themselves about racism and the ways in which they are complicit in it.
Following these calls to action, The Help has trended on Netflix but people are now explaining why that's problematic.
Released in 2011, The Help tells the story of a white journalist who writes a book about black housemaids and racism in the US in the 1960s. Despite Octavia Spencer winning an Oscar for her performance in it, The Help has been widely criticised for being a white saviour story. The movie is also based on a novel by a white woman and directed by a white man.
In his review for The Help, Wesley Morris wrote: "Skeeter’s exposé is meant to empower both the subjects and the author, but The Help joins everything from To Kill a Mockingbird to The Blind Side as another Hollywood movie that sees racial progress as the province of white do-gooderism. Skeeter enjoys all the self-discovery and all the credit."
Viola Davis, who was nominated for Best Actress at the Academy Awards for her standout performance as Aibileen in the movie, has also since revealed that she regrets that she ever chose to star in it. In 2018, she explained to the New York Times: "I just felt that at the end of the day that it wasn’t the voices of the maids that were heard."
White peoole love the idea of putting racism as a problem of the past, that’s why these man are watching The Help, feeling like they did something.— Tolly (@tolly_t) June 7, 2020
The movie also has clear-cut villains and heroes. It does little to examine the many ways in which well-meaning white people are racist. What's perhaps most toxic about it being so popular on Netflix now is that those of us who are white can watch it without being made to think about how we are complicit in racism. It's designed to make us feel good about ourselves.
In other words, The Help is not the educative movie that white people think it is and people are calling out those watching it at the moment. Writer Manny Fidel tweeted: "The Help just became Netflix's most-watched movie amid Black Lives Matter protests." alongside a video which explains why white saviour movies, like The Help, are dangerous.
Meanwhile, another Twitter user wrote: "Movies NOT to watch when trying to educate yourselves on racism: The Help, The Blind Side, The Green Book, Freedom Riders, Any other White Savior movie..."
"The Help" just became Netflix's most watched movie amid Black Lives Matter protests. Before I go bang my head into the wall, let me explain why "white saviors" movies are extremely dumb:pic.twitter.com/qFP4LSwTYM— manny (@mannyfidel) June 5, 2020
Movies NOT to watch when trying to educate yourselves on racism:— Cynthia (@cynthiacide) June 5, 2020
The Blind Side
The Green Book
Any other White Savior movie...
Okay but be a soldier and delete The Help from Netflix https://t.co/vf9l1aZeda— Ira Madison III (@ira) June 4, 2020
"The Help" trending on netflix is all we need to know about how some ppl are educating themselves.— Ashanté M. Reese (@AMReese07) June 4, 2020
THE HELP IS TRENDING ON N*TFL*X I HAVE TO LAUGH— kimberly rose drew (@museummammy) June 3, 2020
.@netflix Hi I work for you at the moment. You should STOP EMAILING PEOPLE TO WATCH 'THE HELP' RIGHT NOW! WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU? ARE YOU THAT IGNORANT? OUT OF TOUCH? DO YOU SIMPLY NOT FUCKING GET IT? NOT CARE? FUCK! Ok now back to other people's thoughts and info. SEND— Gabe Liedman (@gabeliedman) June 7, 2020
What to watch instead of “The Help” :— Mrs. A!, M.S.- HSEM (@AyYoMrsA) June 7, 2020
1. Do the Right Thing
3. The Hate U Give
4. Malcolm X
5. The Color Purple
6. The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till
7. When They See Us
8. The Central Park Five
10. Fruitvale Station https://t.co/YGphiccy8I
honestly i cannot think about the help without thinking of the columnist that said viola davis was ungrateful for saying she regretted making this movie https://t.co/NPlHG99Bas— positive attitude hunter™️ (@hunteryharris) June 6, 2020
If someone told me they watched “The Help” to get a better handle on the moment, I’d cease to be a part of their life before they finished their sentence. https://t.co/2p2FIBurna— Saeed Jones (@theferocity) June 6, 2020
Bryce Dallas Howard, who played Hilly in The Help also addressed the controversy. Taking to her Instagram, she wrote: "I’ve heard that #TheHelp is the most viewed film on @netflix right now! The Help is a fictional story told through the perspective of a white character and was created by predominantly white storytellers. We can all go further."
She continued: "If you are seeking ways to learn about the Civil Rights Movement, lynchings, segregation, Jim Crow, and all the ways in which those have an impact on us today, here are a handful of powerful, essential, masterful films and shows that centre Black lives, stories, creators, and/or performers."
She then went on to list: "13th, Eyes on the Prize, I am Not Your Negro, Just Mercy, Malcom X, Say Her Name: The Life And Death Of Sandra Bland, Selma, Watchmen and When They See Us." She also added: "This is not a comprehensive list so please add to it in the comments below!"
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I’ve heard that #TheHelp is the most viewed film on @netflix right now! I’m so grateful for the exquisite friendships that came from that film -- our bond is something I treasure deeply and will last a lifetime. This being said, The Help is a fictional story told through the perspective of a white character and was created by predominantly white storytellers. We can all go further. Stories are a gateway to radical empathy and the greatest ones are catalysts for action. If you are seeking ways to learn about the Civil Rights Movement, lynchings, segregation, Jim Crow, and all the ways in which those have an impact on us today, here are a handful of powerful, essential, masterful films and shows that center Black lives, stories, creators, and / or performers: 13th Eyes on the Prize I am Not Your Negro Just Mercy Malcom X Say Her Name: The Life And Death Of Sandra Bland Selma Watchmen When They See Us This is not a comprehensive list so please add to it in the comments below!
In other words, there are plenty of movies you can watch to educate yourself about racism but The Help is not one of them.