Today Claudia is going to her new book club to discuss the popular new book the Help. We decided to go to the movie yesterday and we both had different reactions to it. It was pretty much what I expected. Still, I thoroughly enjoyed it. For Claudia it was distracting because it had significant enough deviations from the book for her to think about them rather than the course of the movie. Not having read the book I came unencumbered.
Her comment was that the movie made the white employers more sympathetic than the book. Frankly, that doesn’t surprise me. The movie had to thread the difficult terrain between being faithful to the book, which was unsparing in its mostly unflattering portrayal of the white population and Hollywood’s need to make a buck by not sticking it into the eye of its biggest share of the American audience – white America.
There was nothing in the portrayal of the Junior League of Jackson, Mississippi that was in anyway appealing. Perhaps a movie viewer could generate a little sympathy for the pathetic need to keep the group’s approval but that barely qualifies. The movie also gave the one heroic white person a sympathetic Mother who told her daughter grandly that in her case courage sometimes skips a generation. The book did not giver her that great line to excuse her sins.
Still, although the brutality of the postbellum peeked through it was mostly a romp for today’s audience which ought to go visit one of the websites with souvenir photographs and postcards, yes postcards, of pre civil right’s Era lynchings. That will put things back in a non-Hollywood perspective.
The days of Jim Crow are however more than just a memory. There are still plenty of folks who deserve a few bites of the terrible-awful.