Second-class status is just as intolerable today as it was in the 1960s. Today, fear and intimidation comes in the form of actual abuse to the potential of deportation, preventing workers from more aggressively challenging the status quo.
This film tells a story many blacks and whites would rather forget, how black women stepped up and did what they must to survive. That's a story important enough to make all the film's faults minor by contrast.
The Help tells the story of several white women who employ black maids in Jackson, Mississippi in the 1960s. The film purports to tell it like it was but for one who grew up in the South during these times, it doesn't provide a full picture.
I read an Amazon review of the novel that told a reader not to worry that they would have to read over 400 pages of depressing oppression. This is true -- "The Help" makes Jim Crow palatable. I don't think this is a good thing.
Octavia Spencer may be best known to devotees of Ugly Betty as Constance Grady, the IMS agent who stalked Betty's father. Her film resume is varied, but she says, The Help was especially close to her heart.
The Help paints a powerful, all too painful and more importantly, accurate picture of a snapshot in time. It's all there -- the racism and mean-spiritedness and compassion and love. No matter what region you are from, it is a story that transcends.
We had two cleaning ladies, Mary and Nancy, a pair of sisters who alternated their weekly visits. One day, Nancy came to work in tears, unable not to cry in front of my mother. "They gonna take Mary's kids away," she sobbed.
Some will say: This is yet another movie about the civil-rights movement moment in our history, in which the white people are the heroes, saving the black characters. But that's far too simplistic a reading of The Help.