The Help

The Help focuses on Aibileen Clark (Viola Davis) and other African American women that are maids for the rich white families of Jackson, Mississippi during the Civil Rights era. The leader of the white women socialites, Hilly Holbrook (Bryce Dallas Howard), desires to pass a law to segregate all bathrooms. Skeeter (Emma Stone), an aspiring journalist, decides to fight the law and expose the terrifying racism of the state by gathering testimonies from Aibileen and the other maids to publish. However, they all face great danger for doing so. What is fascinating about the film is the racial dynamics of the home. On the one hand, the white women allow black maids into their homes to take care of their children. However, these same women fear black contact, thinking they will catch diseases. The home becomes a place of simultaneous integration and segregation. More interesting is how this set up is caused by the socially restricted roles placed upon white women at the time. Society expected these women to get married at young ages when they lacked the maturity to take care of children and the home. Therefore, the women resort to hiring older black maids to take on their responsibilities. Despite depending on the maids so much, the women look down on them, declaring themselves as racially superior beings. The Help argues that much of racism actually stems from white insecurity about themselves. --

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