Black People : Why Hollywood keeps white-washing the past

Discussion in 'Black People Open Forum' started by oldsoul, Aug 15, 2011.

  1. OldSoul

    OldSoul Permanent Black Man PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Why Hollywood keeps whitewashing the past



    "The Help" is just the latest movie to sugarcoat oppression by painting enlightened white people as heroes


    American historical films are forever refighting old wars, congratulating themselves for being on the right side, and encouraging viewers to pat themselves on the back for being on the right side, too. They view the war from the general's tent up on a distant hill and imagine that they're right in the thick of it. That's how Paul Haggis' "Crash" swept the Oscars in 2006 -- by serving up a contemporary story of Los Angelenos who said and did brazenly racist things in public constantly, as if it were 1967 and everyone was wearing love beads, Afros and hard hats. The characters seemed crude and primitive, lacking in self-awareness, unenlightened; this made them easy to label, judge and dismiss. A variation on this strategy has enabled another race drama, "The Help," to become an instant hit, a likely Oscar contender, and yet another reminder that when mainstream cinema depicts discrimination, it tends to ask the same two questions: "How did this affect white people?" and "Aren't you glad you're not bigoted like the creeps in this movie?"

    Based on the 2009 novel by Kathryn Stockett, and endorsed by Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry, this civil rights-era movie about a young Caucasian writer telling the harsh but true stories of African-American domestics appears to grant the stories of its white and black characters equal weight. It even gives the voice-over narration to one of the maids, Aibileen Clark (Viola Davis). But the pretense of dramatic equality collapses if you look at what's actually happening on-screen, and what got marginalized or omitted.

    This isn't the story of beleaguered domestics standing up for themselves during a time of American apartheid. It's the story of a perky proto-feminist writer (Emma Stone's "Skeeter" Phelan) cajoling black women into standing up for themselves by telling her their stories and letting her publish them in book form. It's about what a good-hearted and tenacious person Skeeter is, and how lucky the maids are to have met her. When Skeeter's insufferable childhood friend, a heartless, racist social climber, pushes her to publish an article in their Junior League group's newsletter urging whites to build separate restrooms in their homes for black domestics, she resists for several weeks, then engineers a spectacular, lowbrow prank as a protest. When her book is finally published, we see a clerk displaying it prominently in a downtown bookstore window and old white ladies openly reading it in public, as if it were "Profiles in Courage" or "Calories Count."
     
  2. jamesfrmphilly

    jamesfrmphilly going above and beyond PREMIUM MEMBER

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    that is why there will never be harmony…….
     
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