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Jun 7, 2020

"The Help" Has Been Trending On Netflix — Here's Why It's Not A Good Idea To Watch It Right Now

Two words: "white savior."

As George Floyd and Black Lives Matter protests have continued this weekend, The Help has been trending on Netflix — even reaching the #1 spot.

Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Skeeter Phelan (Emma Stone), an aspiring writer, listens to advice from her editor in New York as she embarks on a secret writing project that puts her, and especially the women she is working with, at great risk.

In case you didn't know, The Help is a 2011 movie about a white woman who writes a book about the experiences of Black housemaids. The film — which is based off a book authored by a white woman — was written and directed by Tate Taylor, a white man. It even got a Best Picture Oscar nomination, as well as a win for Octavia Spencer for Best Supporting Actress.

Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

However, The Help has been criticized for being a white savior movie. This trope is basically when white people are portrayed as "saving" Black people and POC from their circumstances.

"The Help" just became Netflix's most watched movie amid Black Lives Matter protests. Before I go bang my head into the wall, let me explain why "white saviors" movies are extremely dumb:

In the words of Wesley Morris' 2011 review, "Skeeter’s exposé is meant to empower both the subjects and the author, but The Help joins everything from To Kill a Mockingbird to The Blind Side as another Hollywood movie that sees racial progress as the province of white do-gooderism. Skeeter enjoys all the self-discovery and all the credit."

If it is true that "The Help" is the No. 1 movie on Netflix, I invite you to Wesley Morris's 2011 review of the film. After writing it he won a Pulitzer. The last paragraph ... https://t.co/4rgGV2SFd1

You can read the full review here.

And The Help is far from the only Oscar-nominated movie to fit the white savior narrative:

Movies NOT to watch when trying to educate yourselves on racism: The Help The Blind Side The Green Book Freedom Riders Any other White Savior movie...

Please note that Freedom Riders was put in error and Freedom Writers was intended.

Subsequently, as The Help continued to trend, lots of people took to Twitter to criticize the movie's popularity right now:

"The Help" trending on netflix is all we need to know about how some ppl are educating themselves. LOLOLOL

After all, Viola Davis herself said in 2018 that she regrets her role in the movie: "I just felt that at the end of the day that it wasn’t the voices of the maids that were heard."

Alberto E. Rodriguez / Getty Images

"I know Aibileen. I know Minny. They’re my grandma. They’re my mom. And I know that if you do a movie where the whole premise is, 'I want to know what it feels like to work for white people and to bring up children in 1963, I want to hear how you really feel about it,' I never heard that in the course of the movie."

Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

And, in 2011, The Help's author Kathryn Stockett was sued by Ablene Cooper — a real-life nanny who worked for the Stockett family — for allegedly using her likeness against her will in the character of "Aibileen Clark."

Berkley / Amazon

The lawsuit said that the book's portrayal "is not a mere insult, indignity, annoyance or trivial matter to Ablene. Kathryn Stockett's conduct has made Ablene feel violated, outraged and revulsed." The case was dismissed because the judge said that the statute of limitations had run out.

As many pointed out, there are plenty more movies out there that are about racism and don't fit into the white savior narrative:

The Help is #1 on Netflix? Fuck that. Click on "Malcolm X". When They See Us. 13th. LA 92. Dear White People. On My Block. HiphopEvolution. Spider-Man into the Spider Verse...and that show with the bald bulletproof muhfucka. What's his name again?

Please don’t watch “The Help” to understand this moment we are in. Or “The Green Book”, or “Crash” (ugh) The three movies I would recommend this weekend as a primer to race issues and racism: “I Am Not Your Negro” -Raoul Peck “13th” by @ava “Get Out” by @JordanPeele https://t.co/GV0MFeCWrN

If you're looking for movies you can stream right now about racism, you can find a few here.

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