Elizabeth Geitz is not sure whether the runaway popularity of the movie The Help, based on the bestselling book of the same name, is an altogether good thing. She writes:
Like many women in America, or let me be clear, white women in America, I devoured every word of The Help when I read it two years ago. The fact that an author had written in dialect for another race bothered me, but I believed the good of the book outweighed the bad. It revealed the Hilly’s of the world for who and what they are, racist self-absorbed bigots. It portrayed the South of the 50s and 60s as it was when I grew up there – with the ‘colored only’ water fountains, separate entrance to the balcony of movie theaters for African Americans, separate schools for blacks and whites, stiffly starched uniforms for those African American women who had no choice but to work as maids in white homes. It was a terrific book, I thought, for it revealed the South as I knew it and lived it.
However, she notes:
There is only one perspective portrayed in both the book and the movie, the perspective of white people. Black women are portrayed as one-dimensional, stereotypical ‘characters’ – not as real flesh and blood people with families, feelings, hopes, and dreams of their own. Real women who are just as able, smart, ambitious, and willing-to-take risks as Skeeter. Real women who cry like Skeeter did over ways they were hurt by their own Mamas.
Geitz points readers to a statement, critical of the film from the Association of Black Women Historians, but concludes that author Kathryn Stockett has at least initiated a helpful conversation.