The Help, Hollywood, and White Happiness

The latest in a long list of Mighty Hhitey (White Savior) movies The Help, has been getting largely positive reviews from, you guessed it mostly white film critics:

“The Help” is the sort of film that studios typically save for the holiday prestige season in November or December, when Academy Awards voters start thinking ahead to the films they want to anoint…Come awards time, many of them likely will be thinking of “The Help,” whose remarkable ensemble of women offers enough great performances to practically fill the actress categories at the Oscars.”

-David Germain

“The movie isn’t perfect; it sometimes shows its stitching. But mostly it’s a stirring salute to subjugated women who hold their heads high.”

-Owen Gleiberman

“A deeply touching human story filled with humor and heartbreak is rare in any movie season, especially summer. That’s what makes The Help an exhilarating gift…It’s an intimate epic, not a historical one. And the tale written on the eloquent faces of Davis and Spencer speaks to the heart.”

-Peter Travers

Although I’ve never seen it (and I don’t plan on ever seeing it), I know just by watching the trailer alone, that it’s a movie about a white person helping downtrodden black folks. Most critics have painted this movie as the ‘feel good’ film of the year worthy of awards galore. However, it recycles the usual theme in certain movies about race relations, that people of color (POC) are in an unspoken predicament (sometimes implying that they are the cause of their own plight) and that the only means to their salvation is a white person who becomes the story’s hero everyone should root for.

Audience members, mostly of the Caucasian persuasion, feel warm and fuzzy inside. They believe they know more about history and POC just by watching the films. Any sense of shame or guilt is eased by the image of the white knight saving those who are portrayed as helpless or hopeless, and it is replaced with a sense of happiness and hidden racial conceitedness and arrogance that feeds their egos. It matters if it was ‘based on a true story’ as they see it as proof that white people are not all bad. It doesn’t matter to them even if some such movies were written, true story of not, to make white heroes seem more like angels than human beings. It doesn’t matter if actual history has either been transformed or completely omitted to satisfy the plotlines. And it damn sure isn’t important if POC become offended or outraged.

At the expense of historical and contemporary facts and the self esteems of POC in general, Hollywood produces movies where white people are, in some way, shape or form, superior to everyone else.  The usual argument against that truth is that it is just a movie. It’s just entertainment. But Hollywood and the media in general are both powerful institutions. However, they are not immune from the sickness of racism. What can be considered ‘entertainment’ for one can be offensive to another, and race can never be ruled out of the equation. White savior movies help maintain the racist illusion that POC, usually black and brown, are the causes of their own problems, not the system or history of white supremacy. Nothing and no one else is responsible. They are simply ‘uncivilized’ compared to whites. Some films project the illusions that white people in general got their shit together, and that racism is an individual problem. Some films will even try to “lighten up” history itself as a way of teaching more lies, any lies to make whites look great. 

And some people simply can’t get enough of that garbage. They are addicted to happiness like a drug, and The Help will certainly provide them over two hours worth. In a white supremacist nation the constant mission to make white people feel good and supreme no matter the cost is more than obvious within the media networks. Does it matter to them what effect this has on POC. Hell no! All that matters is the money they would rake in from people still in the dark about this truth. We should not expect anything more from an industry owned and operated by mostly whites. After all, they only see things in white and green, and as far as they are concerned, it’s all good.

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21 thoughts on “The Help, Hollywood, and White Happiness

    1. Lol! Paul Mooney has always been on point.

      I see it like this: Why should I, a person of color, see a movie where white people save my people? Why should I feel happy about seeing this theme over and over again. This is not to say that there haven’t been whites who have helped POC, but for once, I want to see:

      An upper to middle class black family adopting a poor white boy and giving him a chance to succeed.
      A black man or black woman saving inner city kids not in sports but in the classroom.
      A black person, outside of stereotypes, saving the world without dying at the end.
      And so on…

      As long as Hollywood remains almost all white with POC who kiss their asses more and more White Savior movies will poor out like shit from an asshole.

      1. To be perfectly honest with you. me and my mom had the conversation that Smaurai and period films can be used in the Urban setting (without white people). Like the Last Dragon did a good job of merging Urban with Wu Xia films with a touch of the Warriors, but white Hollywood didn’t like it when a POC does something out of the norm.

        It’s the same as EMO white kids having powers. You see that in every film. What I like to see is a POC as the lead, (if it’s a female, not as a fetish for white guys)

  1. Hollywood is not going to notice when even our own POC directors and producers cannot pool their resources to get great films made and distributed.

    Take two big-time filmmakers at different ends of the spectrum: Spike Lee and Tyler Perry. Both have core audiences, name recognition, resources and assets, and drive. However, Lee has let it be known that he considers Perry’s efforts as sophomoric buffoonery, and shows him no respect or consideration. Perry, on the other hand, has taken his plays and made them into movies, with some uneven results, but overall, appeals to his fans. He cannot reach out because he has already been dismissed as a dress-wearing clown – and no respecting Black entertainer will allow himself to be continually treated this way. o_O

    How cool would it be if these two guys could meld their ideas and resources and learn something new. Tyler could use some info from Spike abut presenting serious topics and telling epic stories using historical perspectives, and Spike could learn to step out of his box and try different film genres with no fear. Perhaps they could be in a position to tell our story accurately with us being the heroes. Maybe even influence and inspire more black filmmakers and producers to step up to the plate and help create our own Hollywood, rather than waiting for the establishment to tell our stories for us.

    BTW…Spike and Tyler aren’t the end all to be all. Just Google around and see what I’m talking about. Start patronizing some of the amazing talent we have in our community, and this way, your only options aren’t these very one-sided “feel-good” tales of white rescue.

    P.S. – Viola Davis and the other sisters in the movie gave flawless performances, and it’s a shame the movie controversy outshines the star turns for these ladies.

    1. That’s true about Tyler Perry and Spike Lee. They have different styles, kinda like the actors Tatsuya Nakdai and Toshiro Mifune. if they both combine thier forces, they will be like Spelberg and Lucas.

  2. I would like to see a movie like the Nat Turner Rebellion. Oh wait, they probably won’t make it because there is no white saviour to save all the negroes!

      1. By all means, talk about it.

        There is so much, but it still needs to be said. We see it in movies, tv shows, newspapers, music, and even (trash) talk shows. You don’t have to say it all at once, but you can write about it with one blog entry at a time about a specific subject.

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