Movie Title: The Help
The Help is the story of a young college graduate who writes the stories of the African American “help” in Jackson, Misissippi. This movie is set to take place when African American’s were fighting for their treatment along side of Martin Luther King. In this time, fraternizing with these black women, let alone telling their side of stories, would be considered extremely taboo and illegal.
This movie was able to receive ten points, giving it a grade of B! For the most part, The Help received its points through the category of women. This movie was able to hit every requirement for women through out the story. First, the main two protagonists are women. The first is Skeeter, the recent college graduate and newspaper writer. The second, Aibileen, the courageous African American women and maid. The combination of these two characters as the main, leading actresses, direct the plot through out the movie. Aibileen, is also a women over the age of 45. Through out Aibileen’s life, her main job has to been raising white women’s children until they are old enough to hire maids of their own.
Aibileen, along with the other prominent black women in the film, have major speaking roles that accurately depict what their lives would be in that time period. Scene’s depicts house owners building outdoor bathrooms so that their help cannot contaminate their own toilets, treating their maids with disrespect, and arresting them because they stereotype the African American race as being thieves. Fifty years later, we can confidently say that treatment, which we see in the movie in not acceptable in any means.
Through out this movie, men are rarely seen. In a few conversations between Skeeter and her mother, the discussion of a man and husband come up, but for the most part men are not the focus of the movie. This gives The Help points for passing the Bechdel Test and women being more the object for the male gaze.
For the category of men, only one standard was met. The Help did not promote nor glorify violent men. In one scene, it becomes clear that the maid Minny’s husband has become violent with her. In interactions with other characters, Minny is given the confidence to leave her husband therefore not condoning his violent actions.
Overall, I believe the film portrayed the racial problems of then era in a tasteful and accurate way. It was clear that the film did portray the African American characters in a historically correct manner and not to depict a cultural stereotype of African American's. For this, the film received another point.
I was surprised by the amount of points this film did receive. Unlike most films, The Help did not have a leading male character. I think that this was a main reason for the amount of points received in the women category.
I do believe that this test does give a fair way to rate movies. Unlike many rating and reviews that exist in the movie world, this test has exact topics to look for. This already makes the Representation Test fair. In the example of The Help, the movie meets most categories which pertain to the movie. Due to the period in which it is set, it is not strange that there are no LGBT people in the cast of characters. In current movies, I think that most would struggle with having LGBT and people with disabilities. This test has also given me insight into what the roles of women usually are in films. The Help was a major abnormality, in my opinion, that it was able to check every topic under women. One aspect that I think could strengthen this test would be to have a topic for how many leading women vs. leading men are in the film. In this case, there were two leading women and no leading men, but for most movies I think that could add an interesting perspective.
Overall, I was impressed that The Help was able to make a grade of a B. It is a very inspiring and heartfelt movie that I would definitely recommend watching if you have not already seen!