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One day away from its August 10th release, “The Help” is already getting serious Oscar buzz and some less than expected support.

The movie, based on 2009 bestseller by Kathryn Stockett, addresses the relationship between African-American housekeepers and their southern White employers on the eve of the Civil Rights movement. And while the novel raised a great deal of controversy, Roslyn Brock, chairwoman of the NAACP has become one of the movie’s biggest advocates.

Brock spoke of her support for the film, which stars Viola Davis, Octavia Spenser and Emma Stone, last week during the Los Angeles of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s annual meeting. After seeing the film, she is urging black audiences to head to theatres when it is released. Admitting she was initially skeptical, Brock told the audience:

“I didn’t have any great expectations for a movie based in the ’60s about domestics…I thought it would be a heavy, dark movie that would bring to mind segregation. After seeing the film, though, I felt so proud. My grandmother was a domestic in Florida, and when she passed, almost two generations of families whom she had taken care of sent condolences saying what an important part she was to their family. And it never really connected with me until I saw this movie….I ask each of you: Tell your friends, your family, your co-workers, your church. Organize screening parties. Go see this movie.”

Nicole Sperling of The Los Angeles Times reports:

Marketing executives at Disney Studios, the company distributing the DreamWorks’ production, held advance screenings for more than 250 audiences across the country, including book clubs, churches, temples and libraries. They have also reached out to African American leaders such as Cynthia M.A. Butler-McIntyre, national president of the Delta Sigma Theta Inc. sorority; and Kuae Mattox, president of Mocha Moms Inc., a group of some 3,000 highly educated black women who have left the workforce to raise children.

Source

The Help is hoping to follow off the success of Stockett’s book, with five day estimates holding between $25 million and $30 million. In many ways, the movie is a marketing challenge for the ages: take a subject matter that makes many Blacks and Whites uncomfortable and get them both to sit through two hours of viewing time. As such, there has been heavy promotion of the film both in mainstream media and targeted African-American markets.

Whether you love the book, hate the storyline or can’t wait to see the film, one thing is sure, there is a great deal of anticipation around “The Help.”

Are you planning to go see “The Help”? Let us know Clutchettes and gents- weigh in!

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  • TheBean

    Just speaking for myself, I’ve never seen Basketball Wives or any Real Housewives… because I don’t enjoy all that “drama,” especially with black folks. Not knocking people who do enjoy it, but it’s not my thing. I have seen exactly one Tyler Perry movie, with my family, at my parents’s house once when my dad was sick. Hard as it may be to believe, but all black people don’t love the same stuff.

    I’ve posted because The Help is a bad book: poorly written, shallow, with offensive depictions FROM the mouths of the poorly drawn black characters. Damn, the author couldn’t even manage to accurately record how Medgar Evers was murdered. She says he was bludgeoned to death. (He was shot.) And people give her a pass, saying “It’s fiction! What’s the big deal, people!”

    With all the acclaim over this book and movie — which has been magically reinvented as a comedy! — can’t a tiny, tiny population of dissenters get a minute to get a word in without being accused of hypocrisy. Dag.

    Now let met go finish Thong on Fire… Kidding! Stop reading that mess!!!

  • Penny

    I plan to see the movie. I loved the book – I literally could not put it down. The other day, I asked a friend if she planned to see the movie and she said she would not see it because she was tired of seeing us (Black folks) portrayed in that way. She also never read the book. I encouraged her to read the book and told her about my grandmother who at one time in her life was “the help.” She didn’t want to be someone’s maid, but she did it so my father could have food on the table (she was a widow – my grandfather passed away when my father was really young). Up until she was a maid, she had been a stay-at-home mother because my grandfather owned a small business (which wasn’t doing that well…long story). However, because she was never able to go to college, she did what she had to do, just like the black women in the book and in the movie. Because of her sacrifices, my father was able to have an education. And my grandmother’s white employers seemed to really admire her; they treated her extremely well. She was KNOWN for her cooking, a lot like Minny in the story, but my grandmother was soft spoken. And the gifts that those people gave her….I still have some of them.

    My friend seemed to think about it and then revealed that her grandmother was also a maid – it helped her to pay for her (the grandmother’s) own college education. She will never admit it, but I think that there is a small amount of shame about the idea that her grandmother cleaned white people’s houses to pay for her education, however, I think it is remarkable. Her grandmother earned a college degree during a time when a relatively (when compared to now) small number of black people were able to do so. I bring all of this up to say that we (black folks) need to stop being ashamed (for those who are ashamed) of what certain black folks had to do during certain periods of history. Whether my grandmother had been a maid or a doctor, she had a strong work ethic, she treated people well and she was admired by many in her community and outside of it. She helped to make me what I am today, just as so many other black women helped others in their families.

    • lei

      “Whether my grandmother had been a maid or a doctor, she had a strong work ethic, she treated people well and she was admired by many in her community and outside of it. She helped to make me what I am today, just as so many other black women helped others in their families.”

      Very well said Penny. Your family sounds like mine.

      I listened to the audio and loved it. My parents got to see an advance screening of the movie, which had a mixed audience, and they loved it.

  • lei

    It is a little sad that people are jumping all over this book and movie like it is the only thing out there that represents black people. It is a view of what life was like for some people. Saying that you are sick of seeing black people shown as mammies or maids, which they were, is like saying you are sick of seeing Jewish people portrayed as concentration camp victims. Which they were. Even if the story isn’t exactly how things happened. It brings things to light that people may not have even thought about or shy from talking about.

    I work at a book store and I have seen countless people, white women and men, black women and men reading this book. Maybe people will read it because it is popular now, but it might bring to light ignorance that they maybe carrying. Just like in the book, it isn’t always pleasant to read about yourself. Either way it has gotten people talking about race relations and views. That is what is really important. Maybe the older white woman who is reading it in her bookclub might realize that the way she views black people is truly ignorant. Maybe she will notice herself in the book and try to be a little differant. You never know.

    • Sepiastar

      Thank you for such a provoking argument. Many black people seem to desire a romanticized view of themselves and the culture and wish they could revise history to see themselves in a differing light. Our ancestors were maids, groundmens, slaves, and performed many domesticated roles in this country. We also produced inventors, philosophers, educators, physicians, and researchers and when we’re projected as such in movies, we STILL don’t overwhelmingly support them. So, technically, I don’t think we have any idea what will make us happy. I definitely plan to see the movie. It’s amazing that some of us seem to “think” we know the outcome of the movie you haven’t reviewed. We complain that we’re always ostracized from Hollywood movies or we’re being degraded but we claim a refusal to see this film because it’s revisionist history, we’ve seen this same story repetitively. Yet, I can locate a television show in any week of the year and find a documentary or fictional show about the Holocaust or Adolf Hitler’s genocidal quest to eliminate the Jews. Some people wish to forget their history by alluding that the past has no significance and others will never forget or allow anyone else to forget their plight.

  • Penny

    Lei, thank you – she was very special to me and to a whole lot of people (black and white). Lei and Sepia star, I totally agree. All of black people’s stories (whether they are about maids or college professors or Vineyard vacationers) are significant and worthy of portrayal. We (black folks) complain about the lack of “black” movies, the abundance of “hood” movies, the hyper-sexualized images of black women and men in music videos, the invisibility of black women in films…But then we turn our noses up at movies about black maids or black drivers (no matter how dignified the characters are) because we are tired of seeing us in that way. I remember hearing some of these same people complain that the Cosby Show was unrealistic.

    • lei

      Thank you Penny and Sepiastar. I am just so tired of people jumping on anything and everything. Just like there are so many differant sides to black people, there are to other nationalities as well. I do not support movies where black people are made to look like imbeciles, nor do I support movies where Asians are made to look like complete idiots, or “little people” as freaks. I have no problem supporting something that shows me a differant side to people than I would’ve thought on my own. It is called being open minded.
      Would black people support a movie where it shows Africans selling there own people to the white slave trader? Maybe, maybe not, but it is something that happened and it would show the other side of well known story. What about a movie showing the perspective of the thousands of white people who walked side by side with black people in the March on Washington? There a lot of differant sides to everyone’s story. Explore them. Everything isn’t a Black and White issue.

  • Isis

    Lawd is all I can say