Racial and Ethnicity Issues in the Movie “The Help”, Movie Review Example

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Movie Review

The movie, “The Help, is a 2011 drama movie adaptation for the novel, The Help, written by Kathryn Stockett.  The movie was directed by Tate Taylor.  The movie was based on the relationship between a young Caucasian woman, Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan, and two African American maids during early 1960s when the Civil Rights movement was occurring in the United States.  Initially, when the title is read and the main basis for the movie is described, the first two subjects that come to mind are ethnicity and race. This is the concept of the movie.  The main character, Skeeter is a journalist that writes a controversial book from the point of view of the African American maids, more commonly referred to as “the help” during that Era.  This brings up many issues of racism that the maids had to undergo with while working for Caucasian women.

The origin of the controversial book that the character Skeeter begins to write in the movie, starts when she visits a friend and the friend begins talking about her African-American help.  Her friend describes how she doesn’t understand who would let their African-American help use the same bathroom as them.  In fact, in the movie the character named Hilly Holbrock lobbies for a town law prohibiting African-Americans from using the same bathroom as the white people.  In the movie, the law is passed.  In addition, Skeeter disapproves of how her friends treat their maids with racial condescension.   Skeeter believes that hearing the side of the African-American maids would make not only a great book, but would get insight into how they feel about the way they are treated by their white bosses.  This subject in the movie brings up the racial segregation issues that happened in the United States during 1950s and 1960s. Racial segregation was a direct physical separation between the whites and blacks from all types of facilities during that time period.   In the movie, the writer does a good job a touching on this important subject.  It is interesting to see the separation that existed.  The white families depended on the African American help for everything, such as cooking, cleaning and taking care of the kids; however, they wouldn’t let them use the same bathroom as them.  This allows the viewer to think about how only a half of century ago the United States of America was completely segregated in regards to race.  In addition, the movie is somewhat ironic in the fact that the person who is trying to convey the side of the African-Americans is a woman.  Woman were also segregated during those times and had to partake in woman’s suffrage and movements as well.  Therefore, the fact that a white woman was trying to write a book about African-American maids is in itself controversial. Additionally, the fact that the woman in the movie were the individuals partaking in the racial segregation was disturbing, considering woman were also trying to make their way to the equality of men.

The other issue that is brought forward in this movie is the civil rights movement.  The woman in the town in which the movie is based are aware of the civil rights movement and are against the book because they do not want to expose their racial segregation acts toward African-Americans.    A good example of this is when Hilly’s maid, Minny, disobeys Hilly’s order to not use the family bathroom, even when a horrible storm outside was making it difficult to use the outhouse. Hilly fires Minny due to this incident.  This is comparable to Rosa Parks, who is referred to as the first African-American woman civil rights activist.  Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on the bus for a white person.  She stood up for what she believed and resisted racial segregation. This is what was being portrayed in the movie.  Minny used courage and stood up for her beliefs and no longer wanted to undergo racial segregation.  Like Rosa Park’s incident, Minny’s incident led to some severe consequences; however, in the end it helped lead to the decrease in racial segregation.  Although it took several years for change in real life for racial segregation, it is satisfying to see some changes and growth in some of the characters after the events in the movie and Skeeters book.

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