The leading ladies of The Help, Emma Stone, Viola
Davis, and Octavia Spencer grace the cover of
Entertainment Weekly
I went to the movies last night impromptu with the rest of the fam, like a family night, which is weird because we don't go to movies during the week much. My dad really wanted to go see Planet of the Apes, but I said, "Forget that. If I'm going to the movies, I'm going to see The Help." And that I did. Parents went to go see the monkeys attacking people, and I prepared myself for a to hide tears from my little sister, who I knew would probably laugh at me. 

I wrote yesterday on the LA premiere and showed the official trailer for the movie. For those who missed it, here's my mini spiel again. The book that the movie is based on was written in 2009 by Kathryn Stockett. It's the story of college grad Eugenia "Skeeter" Phelan (Emma Stone) who starts up a secret writing project with maids Aibileen (Viola Davis) and Minny (Octavia Spencer) on their experiences working as maids for whites in Jackson, Mississippi. Bryce Dallas Howard plays a snooty white woman named Hilly Holbrook, who you just want to slap upside the head a good amount of the time. The ladies' book, involving several other maids around Jackson, becomes published and really makes a stir around town! The book & movie take place in the early 1960s, when segregation was high, and the fight for civil rights had really just begun.

*Sigh* Can I say that the book captured my heart, and the movie did too. I even spoke with a few women who had read the book as well, and we agreed that the cast did an amazing job! And as I figured, by the end of the film, I was in full-on tears. My sister was looking at me like I was crazy. I had to write my feelings out on it. Now, don't worry for those of you who haven't seen it, it's not a full recap! No spoilers here, PROMISE! Well, maybe minor details, but that's just so you can remotely keep up with me. Nothing major, though. It's just me getting my emotions out. May not be perfectly written, and long, because I write too much. But sometimes, I just have to write. With no limits, no cares. Writers know how I feel.

Read my take after the jump!

Like I said the movie was incredible. GO SUPPORT IT! And read the book when you find the time! I told myself that I was going to read the book, before I see the movie, which I rarely do. However, I remember my friend telling me how good it was, so I ordered myself a copy. I read it everywhere I went for hours on end--home, the car, the Metro. I even brought it to read before church this past Sunday. That's how good it was. Finished a 500 page book less than a week when it came in from Amazon. The movie for the most part stayed true to the book. Missing some details, but all movies based on books do. You have to cut it down, so I wasn't all that upset by it.

This film is the breakout film for all four major actresses, Emma, Viola, Octavia and Bryce. Especially Emma and Octavia. Emma's only had about 4 years in the business, with her major roles being Zombieland and Easy A. And she's growing, getting into more and more roles, like the upcoming remake of Spiderman she has. I really think though that this is the film on her resume that will have more and more people calling. She played Skeeter very well, skittish around Minny and other maids out of fear, bold with her boyfriend, emotional in dealing with issues with her mother who just wants her to get married and is very judgmental at times. All at the right times. And Octavia? For as long as I've been seeing her in films, I NEVER remember seeing her in a major supporting role like this. And now she had the role of Minny who couldn't keep maid jobs in the book because of her sass. AND SHE MURDERED IT! It was like the role was made especially for her.

It's a movie that had me really thinking about life in America, as all movies that I see with racial plots from the 60's and 70's tend to do for me. I broke out in tears at several points in the movie, not just because they were emotional scenes, but because they made me that much more appreciative of my life. Now I hope that no one takes this as "Angry, black woman syndrome," because it's not. I can only write from MY perspective on this. Films such as this are not reflecting on all whites, but it is reflecting on the time. That part of America's history can never be erased. Even though there are some minorities who take it to the extreme, still trying to hold on to a past that most of them weren't even really a part of, when I look at old footage, documentaries, and films based on times around the Civil Rights Movement, I get emotional out of GRATITUDE, not bitterness.

I'm a young black woman, working on my Bachelor's degree (ONE YEAR LEFT!), trying to make something of myself. It makes me emotional to think that many of the opportunities I have had in my life were not available to my parents, my grandparents, others in my family, people in my church, ancestors and other blacks simply because of the color of their skin. Having to look down when white people passed so there would be no trouble. Working less than minimum wage, struggling to take of their families. They were mistreated so badly in those days, beaten, had dogs let loose on them, some even killed, for fighting for rights that they should have had in the first place because they were HUMAN. And it wasn't just blacks who were in this fight either. Some whites that decided to join the movement also risked their lives, and suffered this same treatment, and for that, I'm grateful too.

One of the most sickening parts to me was with Bryce's character, Hilly. She fought for half the movie on this "Help Sanitation Initiative," which, if passed into law, would require the help to have their own bathroom outside, because coloreds had "special diseases" that whites could easily catch. And no, it wasn't a pretty little bathroom like the whites had. Viola's character, Aibileen, got her own bathroom and all she had was a small little room the size of a closet, with only a toilet and a roll of tissue to see her through. Not even a sink to wash her hands. I wasn't upset that Kathryn wrote that in her book. What killed me was when it hit me that some whites really thought that way then.

Another part that I will never forget was when the film had a scene the assassination of Medgar Evers, NAACP Secretary at that time. In front of his house. His family saw him die. No dramatized footage or anything, just a radio host announcing the bad news. It was an emotional scene as Aibileen was riding home on the bus, and the bus driver made her and another black man get off and walk because "some nigger just got shot." His words. The black man took to running, and Aibileen did too, even falling once. She reached Minny's house, where Minny gave her the bad news. And she said these lines, which I paused at when I read it in the book. "Things ain't ever gonna change in this town, Aibileen. We living in hell, we trapped. Our kids is trapped." I froze at that final part. Minny's own daughter Sugar had to drop out of school to become a maid herself to help her family. Some did have the opportunity to go to school, and even college, but I'm sure a lot of kids had to help out their struggling families. I froze at that line because now we are living in a day and age where my generation and the future generations of black kids aren't trapped as those back then. Yes, we have quite a few obstacles still ahead of us, but still so many opportunities that blacks then could only DREAM of. Maybe not even dream of, because it probably seemed hopeless and stupid to dream. And I cried a good cry when I got home, listening to Mary J. Blige's new song for the movie, "The Living Proof." One of the few things that kept me going in getting this degree, that keeps me going in pursuit of my dreams, was thinking that this isn't just for me. This is for God who granted me this opportunity. This is for my family, my church family, my teachers, my mentors, everyone who poured in my life in some way. This is for my ancestors and those who came before me that didn't get their opportunity. That's a good part of why I'm so ambitious. I do this for them. I work hard for them. I do my best to shine deep down FOR THEM. I always felt like it was my obligation to, to make them proud, to make them see that even if they didn't make it with me, I was still here working hard to make sure their hard work didn't go to waste.

It also made me again how I wouldn't have a lot of the friends I have if I was living in those days. I'm proud to say that I have friends from all different cultures--black, white, Latino, Malaysian, Ethiopian, Japanese, Chinese, etc. Friends from all sorts of backgrounds who I've learned from, and who have hopefully learned from me. Diversity of my friends in my life is something that I'm extremely thankful for. However, back at that time, it wouldn't have been that way. I remember watching Spike Lee's documentary 4 Little Girls (watch it in full here), one of my favorites in his list of works, which covered the 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. The bombing killed 4 young girls, and was a story covered throughout the nation, one of the most terrible events during this time. I was pretty young when I first saw it, about 7 or so, and I remember crying and asking my daddy, "So you mean, Danielle and I wouldn't have been friends then?" Danielle was my best friend then, and she was white. I loved her. It shook me up then to picture not having her in my life. So again, I'm grateful for the progression our nation has made. I'm grateful that most of us We may not be where we want to be, or ought to be in terms of equal rights for everyone, not just blacks, but all races, gender, sexual orientation. I was reminded of that just this morning when a guy was indirectly making racial and gay slurs on my way to work. However, as I went to get my daily Red Bull, I saw white and black co-workers talking and joking, getting along just fine. Thank God we aren't were we used to be.

That's my spiel. Just had to get that out right quick. Thanks for bearing with me. Point blank period, if this movie doesn't get some Oscar nominations, I'm PROTESTING! The Academy will hear it all and then some from Brittany Shawnté! Anyway, I encourage you all to go and see the movie, and read the book when you have the time. I promise you you'll be touched.

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