Don’t Watch ‘The Help’…Or These Other White-Savior Movies

Curated via Twitter from Glamour’s twitter account….

As with The Help, Oher has been critical of the movie inspired by his life story, saying that it was hurtful that it portrayed him as not knowing how to play football until white people taught him. “You don’t have to be saved by a wealthy white family,” he said in 2011, addressing children living in poverty. “You can do it on your own. It is possible.

Here’s what to skip—and what to watch instead. “In any civil rights movie, there’s two heroes,” says Chris Rock, talking about white-savior movies in the film Top Five. “There’s the black hero, and the white person who’s ‘equally’ as important.

But critics have been shouting since before the movie even came out that The Help is not a story that confronts current or historical racism. (Don’t take it from me, take it from Ablene Cooper, the real Black woman the movie focuses on who sued because she found the storytelling so untrue and offensive! ) In response to the controversy, Netflix rolled out a Black Lives Matter genre tab on the streaming site to showcase Black filmmaking alongside genres like Comedy and Thriller.

While it’s worthwhile to tell stories about a righteous person living among evil, the reality is that white people’s primary reaction to Black men being wrongly accused of rape in American history has been mob violence, not defense.

These stories are told to make white people feel better about ourselves, which is silly, but it’s also harmful—when white people don’t see historical and systemic racism reflected back in our own entertainment, or we see it but we always see a white person there to save the day, we think there’s not much for us to do.

But the movie’s screenwriter, Theodore Melfi, defended the historical rewrite to Vice, saying, “There needs to be white people who do the right thing, there needs to be black people who do the right thing.

Donald Shirley and his white driver, Tony Vallelonga, told in a way that The Root said “spoon-feeds racism to white people,” erasing most of the danger and violent racism that a Black man traveling through the Deep South would have actually experienced.

You can be moved by the pure humanity of the “You is kind, you is smart, you is important” speech and also realize that a fictional white woman who sort of criticizes other white women for making their Black servants go to the bathroom in a shed isn’t the hero America needs to see on screen.

The best solution for the problems of Black people, the movie seems to suggest, is white people.

One reason so many of these well-intentioned movies misstep is that they are movies about Black people struggling for power and dignity that are made almost entirely by white people.

But there are some really reasonable criticisms about the way the movie portrayed jazz, a traditional Black American art, as something that needs to be saved by white men.

Shirley’s family said it misrepresented his legacy, and the movie’s creators were called out for racism throughout their time promoting the movie. Speaking of Moonlight! (If you don’t remember, the two movies are forever linked thanks to the biggest mishap in awards-season history. ) Is La La Land a bad, racist, movie? No! It’s a delight.

The story focuses on a white man who takes great risks to defend an innocent Black man who has been wrongly accused of raping a white woman.

As our country reckons with police brutality and its impact on Black Americans in the wake of the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, among too many other names, it’s worth reevaluating how the media we’ve consumed has propped up racist stereotypes and historical inaccuracies while claiming to take on racism.

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