"Long time ago, back in the mist of time Back when the crystal waters flowed There was a world so strange and so beautiful All life would flourish and would grow
Years went by, time just fell away Love was worshiped like the sun But as we arrive at the house at the waterside We're living in strange times Do dodo do dodo doooooooo
Strange times, strange times" ~Moody Blues~
These are strange times indeed.
Consider the following: An anti Gay republican was accused of trying to get his freak on with a black male prostitute on the Internet. A mega church preacher from Florida was found dead up in a Zoo York hotel room with drugs in his possession. (Hold the offering plate.) WTF is going on with you preachers,lately? They are shooting at politicians in Brooklyn. (Wait, this isn't Jamaica.) Negroes are hanging from towers in Oklahoma and refusing to come down. White folks in Louisiana love Wal*Mart so much that they are literally masturbating in the parking lot. (Must be all the beautiful people coming in and out...)
I swear, those Moody Blues dudes were right on the money.
OK, speaking of money, The Help pulled in a little over 25 million this weekend. That's a decent opening by any measure. I am sure that most of you are not surprised. There is nothing A-merry-cans love more than seeing those "dignified" blacks of the civil rights era and the white folks who felt their pain telling us about it.
Over at The Grio the director and producer of The Help was lamenting the fact that some folks are just too critical of the movie:
"theGrio: What made you decide to direct 'The Help?'
Taylor: I am from Jackson, Mississippi, and this story really pulled at my heartstrings and my nostalgic urges. The moment for me, was when Aibileen and Mae Mobely's characters came to life in the manuscript. I was immediately thrust back, to years ago and I thought of Carol Lee, the woman who helped my mother raise me.
Kathryn Stockett had a very similar situation in her adulthood, where she began missing her nanny. It made her start writing short stories that ultimately became The Help.
I knew I wanted to direct the movie, as soon as I read the manuscript. I got the rights to the manuscript a year before the book was even in print. Kathryn had been turned down by 60 agents, and she said "Tate, I have this book, nobody's interested, you can read it if you want." I did read it, and I was immediately blown away.
So you had a black nanny growing up in Jackson, Mississippi?
Yes I did. Her name is Carol Lee. She is still in my life, she came out to the premiere of the movie and walked the red carpet and everything. I put her in the film too. You know the scene where Skeeter goes to the house and all of the maids have come together to help tell their stories? She is the first woman that tells Skeeter that she wants to help write the book.
So is Carol Lee proud of 'The Help?' Does she feel your depiction of maids in Jackson, Mississippi during the 1960's is authentic?
She was so proud of the movie. So thrilled. Absolutely. She has been one of my strongest supporters.
What was your most memorable experience while making this movie?
Every day was a memorable experience. What I remember the most was the sense of joy, that so many friends were together. Octavia Spencer, Allison Janney, and Kathryn Stockett and so many others. We were able to tell this personal story on our homeland and tell it in a way that we felt was accurate...
What do you say to people that say this film did not accurately represent black maids of south during the 1960's?
I want them to tell me, what their version of accurately is. People are being too critical of this film.
It's so perplexing to me. Kathryn set out to write a book not about victims. She wrote a book about four women that were victims of circumstances of their surroundings. The book is about courage and love and integrity, and talking to whom you consider to be your enemy and finding common ground. Kathryn has said, she would never be equipped or interested in writing a historical, fictional account of the civil rights movement. It's just a story. My job as a director and person who is adapting a novel that is a monumental success is not to go take what she did and make is something that it's not. That would be more offensive and wrong. This is art, this is an expression in storytelling, and this is the particular story that we are telling.
I think anyone who sees this movie will feel that Aibileen and Minny are the most courageous, brilliant, smart, and spiritual loving humans on the planet, and oh yeah they have on a uniform. I didn't film these ladies scrubbing toilets.
I didn't want to have a yard man beaten with a crowbar because he went to use a white bathroom. We have seen that, done before and we know it. That takes away time and moments for me to show the layers of these women. Conversely, that's why I had one of the maid, Yule Mae taken off of the bus and beaten with a club. That's not in the book, but I am trying to show that yeah, horrible things happened in the South, but through a character that means something to the storyline. That's filmmaking.
The scene where Viola Davis sitting on a toilet in a garage in 108 degrees, and then a white woman comes out and tells her to hurry up was visually brutal. To me that's worst than seeing a lynching. It just is." [Source]
I am sorry folks, maybe I need some Kumbaya juice or something, but I just can't get behind the whole I took my nanny to the premiere and she was on the red carpet with me thing. The word patronizing comes to mind.
Mr. Taylor talks about the book being about finding common ground, and about the maids being these "courageous" and "spiritual" human beings; which I am sure that they were. But something is missing. And it's the same thing I see missing every time I watch one of these movies about the civil rights era in A-merry-ca. The story is never being told by the oppressed but always the oppressor. The narrative is always the same: Oppressor finds their humanity and helps the oppressed and becomes a hero to us all.
Sadly, I guess it has to be that way. How else are you going to sell 25 million dollars worth of tickets?