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The Help , based on the best-selling novel by Kathryn Stockett, is a film about race and class relations in Jackson, Mississippi in the early 1960s. A century after the American Civil War, the work makes clear, African-American women had few options but to website articles les roches international school of hotel management, labor as exploited domestics for wealthy white families. While socialites entrusted the raising of their children to writing comparative essays Niagara College, the maids, the latter were barely able to tend to their own families. This is provocative and potentially fascinating subject matter. Unfortunately, the film falls short of a credible presentation, as the reality of the situation is not tackled with any degree of seriousness. One of the most jarring elements is the absence of any reference to the mass struggles that shattered the Jim Crow structure in the South at the time, or any indication of their influence and atmosphere. This is not the concern of either the movie or the book. In fact, the book’s jacket cover informs the write a college essay university of exeter (into) potential reader that “Change begins with a whisper.” And elevated to writing comparative essays Niagara College, historical catalyst—or whisperer-in-chief—is the middle class do-gooder. The narrative centers around three characters: Skeeter Phelan (Emma Stone), a recent college graduate from a background of how to write opinion essay windermere school white privilege intent on a career as a journalist, and words for essay writing fanshawe college, Aibileen Clark (Viola Davis) and Minny Jackson (Octavia Spencer), black maids who agree to writing the perfect college essay les roches jin jiang international hotel management college, speak out about their lives at great personal risk. writing comparative essays Niagara College! The three embark on a project to write an anonymous exposé. Aibileen, who has raised 17 white children, acutely feels her lineage as the daughter of a maid and the granddaughter of a house slave. She suffers chronic indignities while attempting to compensate for the emotional blows delivered to the white offspring by their insensitive and absentee parents. Hilly Holbrook (Bryce Dallas Howard) is the ringleader of a hair-sprayed crowd of Southern belles. One of the charities she hypocritically heads up is Hungry African Children. Her main effort, however, is promoting an initiative to require white families in Jackson to maintain racially segregated toilets in their homes. A wicked, heartless employer, she fires her maids without cause and sees to it that they are unemployable, going so far as to have one jailed for taking desperate measures to obtain college tuition for her twin sons. The feisty Minny takes her revenge and Hilly’s malevolent deeds don’t go unpunished. When Minny is booted out of Hilly’s house, she is eventually hired by Celia Foote (Jessica Chastain), the wife of a wealthy businessman, who treats her like a human being. Celia herself is an outcast, whom Hilly views as white trash because of her humble origins and also resents because she secretly carries a torch for Celia’s husband. While there is much focus on Hilly and her band of bigots, the assassination of prominent NAACP leader Medgar Evers in Jackson in writing comparative essays Niagara College June 1963 by a white racist, an earthshaking event in the region, by contrast, is given short shrift by the filmmakers. The Help is not simply a reductive—to say the writing comparative essays Niagara College least—period piece, whose main dynamic is a skirmish between good and evil, with blacks on one side and whites on the other. It rewrites, probably out of write a college essay university of exeter (into) light-mindedness and lack of writing the perfect college essay les roches jin jiang international hotel management college knowledge more than anything else, the history of social struggle in America and postwar history in general. It is not, however, directly for those weaknesses that the film has generated a certain amount of controversy, although one confined to a narrow social segment. The film’s defenders tout it as heartwarming and website articles les roches international school of hotel management, uplifting, with a Hollywood-type happy ending that symbolizes the progress made since the 1960s. writing comparative essays Niagara College! In truth, there are several moving moments and the performances of all the leads are committed and passionate. Though not articulated, the subtext here has much to do with elation over the ethnicity of the present occupant of the White House. After all, the book was published in 2009 and the film released in 2011. The Help ’s detractors—certain types of “lefts” and culturalist nationalists—complain that the film appropriates and distorts the black experience with the goal of pleasing a complacent, white audience. (One review headline suggests that it is “a feel-good movie for how to write opinion essay windermere school white people.”) These elements also claim it is writing comparative essays Niagara College demeaning to portray African-American women in this manner, period dialect and all. Neither the film’s admirers nor critics have an attentive or penetrating insight into history. Writing feature article NABA, Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti Milano! For one crowd, this episode was an unhappy deviation from the general course of American democracy, warts and all. For the how to write good descriptive essays fryeburg academy other, it is further proof that America is a hopelessly racist country, as they seek to bolster identity politics and their claim to exclusive rights in the chronicling of African-American history, as they perceive it. For this lot, it is unforgivable that the film’s director and the book’s author are white. Film and book purport to deal with the atrocious reality of racism in the South in the 1960s. No such feat is accomplished. Rather a tepid presentation is offered up in a self-satisfied, albeit well-intentioned, manner. Life in poverty-stricken Mississippi for much of the 20th century was harsh and oppressive, especially for the black population. From 1882 to 1930, some 537 blacks were lynched in the state, and as late as 1955, 14-year-old Emmitt Till was brutally tortured and murdered. Southern Democratic governors, including Mississippi’s Ross Barnett, were semi-fascist types. Beatings, assassinations, such as the murder of Evers, gunned down in the driveway of his home, and writing comparative essays Niagara College, Klan violence were quasi-legal, state-approved activities. It took four decades to successfully jail Evers’ killer, white supremacist Byron De La Beckwith. Taylor and Stockett portray the white socialites as the main tormentors of the black population. But in writing comparative essays Niagara College reality, this is how to write good descriptive essays fryeburg academy the periphery of the periphery. Writing feature article NABA, Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti Milano! At issue is the ugly face of American capitalism. The violence and terror in the South were not some inexplicable aberration. The lynchings which swelled horrifically in number in the post-Reconstruction period were rooted in the explosive development of modern American capitalism and the inequality and writing comparative essays Niagara College, social misery, and social struggle, it generated. writing comparative essays Niagara College! Racism was consciously used as a weapon to divide whites and blacks, and maintain the entire system of class exploitation. Portions of the most backward and oppressed of the white population bought into the racist argument, but economic and social transformation, including the organized rise of the industrial working class in the 1930s and postwar years, undermined the apartheid system—despite the reactionary role of writing comparative essays Niagara College the Democratic Party and the scandalous betrayals of the trade unions. The movie opens in Jackson in 1962. Very few places and times in American history seethed so with rage and social tensions. This was the context of the Evers assassination, not Hilly’s bridge club shenanigans. Further, it has to be said that the film is a sanitized version of the book, which itself offers a sanitized view of how to write good descriptive essays fryeburg academy the period. A few horrors described in writing comparative essays Niagara College the book are tellingly omitted from the film. For example, in the novel, a son of writing comparative essays Niagara College one of the maids mistakenly uses a bathroom designated for whites and is chased down, beaten and blinded. And another: the book states that in 1963 a man named Carl Roberts was “found cattle-branded and hung from a pecan tree” for calling the governor “a pathetic man with the morals of a streetwalker.” Such politically motivated sadism—all too common at the time—is avoided by website articles les roches international school of hotel management the filmmakers. writing comparative essays Niagara College! Why? Hollywood films, even in a frightfully conservative era, were able to deliver far more complex pictures of race and class relations. One could cite, for instance, Douglas Sirk’s 1959 masterpiece, Imitation of writing the perfect college essay les roches jin jiang international hotel management college Life , and Raoul Walsh’s 1957 Band of Angels . Both works, in one fashion or another, point to the source of racism in social relationships and writing feature article naba, nuova accademia di belle arti milano, conditions. The Help , however, cringes in website articles les roches international school of hotel management the face of hard facts and removes the writing comparative essays Niagara College blemishes of its “good” characters, even refusing to show Minny’s husband’s transgressions against her on screen. In several interviews, Stockett states that “I grew up in how to write good descriptive essays fryeburg academy the 1970s, but I don’t think a whole lot had changed from the ’60s.” Perhaps in her constricted world, this is writing comparative essays Niagara College true. It is also true that no section of the working class has been liberated, although a layer of the black middle class has been cultivated and co-opted by the ruling strata. The titanic battles in writing comparative essays Niagara College the 1960s did make a difference. The black population and its white allies took up a courageous fight that inspired and moved the whole population. It had a worldwide impact. It is ironic that the filmmakers choose 1963 to writing comparative essays Niagara College, illustrate their notion that “Change begins with a whisper.” An unfortunate choice! The combined conditions of poverty and racism were provoking a powerful popular response. Words for essay writing Fanshawe College! President John F. Kennedy, whose own murder late in the year spoke to writing comparative essays Niagara College, the explosive contradictions of postwar American society, was obliged to writing comparative essays Niagara College, order his advisers to look into the conditions of economic deprivation. The government feared that riots would erupt that summer. In fact, some 900 demonstrations took place over writing comparative essays Niagara College, civil rights and jobs in 1963 in 100 US cities, culminating in the massive March on Washington in writing comparative essays Niagara College August. Twenty thousand people were arrested and writing comparative essays Niagara College, 10 killed in the course of those protests. This was also the year in writing comparative essays Niagara College which a New York Times headline in how to write opinion essay windermere school October raised the specter of death by starvation in Appalachia during the coming winter. In eastern Kentucky, a state of virtual civil war existed between miners and writing feature article naba, nuova accademia di belle arti milano, coal operators. writing comparative essays Niagara College! Michael Harrington’s The Other America appeared, documenting the persistence of social misery in the US. Of all this—which influenced the writing comparative essays Niagara College lives and thinking of millions, especially in the South—in The Help , not the hint of a hint. Insofar as they have a worked out conception, Stockett and the filmmakers apparently see social change occurring through the benevolence of liberalism extended from on high. Again, it would be mistaken, in writing comparative essays Niagara College our opinion, to view this as the product of racism, or even as something exceptional to The Help ’s makers. Much of it is simply the product of the shallowness and, to be blunt, ignorance of this social layer in regard to how to write good descriptive essays fryeburg academy, all burning social and historical questions. This is an insipid view of the civil rights era from an writing comparative essays Niagara College, industry that currently offers colorless and website articles les roches international school of hotel management, ahistorical versions of nearly every era. Google is blocking the writing comparative essays Niagara College World Socialist Web Site from search results.