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Apr 17, 2012

The Help

The Help is  a Civil Rights era chick flick, if ever there was one. By calling it a chick flick I don’t mean to demean it, I just mean that most of the characters are ladies, it tells the stories about the lives of women – black and white in the Deep South in the middle years of last century. Engrossing, in the way we all secretly cater to gossip without admitting and informative from a historical perspective.

It’s kind of unsettling to me that the most of pop fiction best sellers, which later got labeled as classics showcasing African American life are/were written by white people. Harriet Beecher Stowe, Sue Monk Kidd and now Kathryn Stockett (whose novel is the basis of this movie) joins the ranks of non-black writers telling the tales of oppression and struggle of the black community with black characters in their books.

Except for Alex Haley’s Roots(a phenomenal book, thank God this Bible of African American fiction was indeed written by a black man), I cannot imagine the general public making a beeline for a single book of fiction written by an African American author at airport kiosks or at the beach. Of course there is Tony Morrison, Maya Angelou, Zora Neale Hurston and many other talented African-American writers, but their impact on the general public who are hard to be enticed to read serious fiction is almost nothing outside high school English classes, compared to the ones penned by white writers I mentioned in the paragraph above.

Stove, Monk Kidd, Stockett all have produced extraordinary absorbing novels, whose movie rights were probably bought long before the books hit the stands. I wish there was an African American novelist, you know I like it straight from the horse’s mouth. That said The Help is a highly watchable film, especially for women – thus my label Civil war chick flick.