Sunday, August 7, 2011

Is Viola Davis Character In The Help Just The Stereotypical Black Mammy?

trailer for "the help

Is Viola Davis Character In The Help Just The Stereotypical Black Mammy?

by the blogger "GayblackCanadianman"

I cannot contain my anger and disappointment that Viola Davis decided to star in the new film The Help. Hollywood produces very myopic representations of black women. Black women are either whores like Halle Berry in Monster’s Ball or maids like Viola Davis in The Help. The social construction of the binary of black female sexuality is very limited.

I noticed a couple of things while watching the trailer for The Help. First, the white women are presented as the stereotypical pristine, upper class, and feminine. However, the black women in The Help speak in a Southern dialect, and constructed as inferior to the white women.

Of course, the white woman saves the day since the purpose of The Help is to promote the narrative that black people we cannot save ourselves.

The Help is just another form of the classic white saviour movies.

I am so tired of the racist white saviour narrative that black people need to be saved by whites.

Another problem, I have with The Help is the film promotes the racist narrative that black women have no agency. The only purpose black people have is to serve white folks. Black womanhood is constructed as just to be loving and nurturing. Hollywood consistently promotes the discourse that a black woman’s purpose in life is to exist in an anterior time. I cringed when I heard the line in the trailer “we love them and they love us.”

Yes, black women love working in the domestic sphere and serve rich white women. Of course, The Help ignores the fact in America, black women were blocked from higher educational opportunities for decades. Black women worked in the domestic sphere because this was the only work to make a living in America prior to the civil rights movement. Of course, there were black women such as Zora Neale Hurston that became a writer. However, the majority of black women had to work in domestic work because that’s the only form of work they were offered!

Two years ago, Sandra Bullock racist film The Blind Side also promoted this abhorrent narrative disavowing black agency.

I understand Viola is a black actress, and she needs to work. However, time really has not changed for black women in Hollywood.

I wish Viola Davis had more pride and decided NOT to take the role in The Help!

In the year 1940, Hattie McDaniel won an Academy Award for her role as mammy in the film Gone With The Wind. The black mammy stereotype of black womanhood is so pervasive in racist Hollywood!

McDaniel did not have a choice because in the year 1940 there were a paucity of good roles for black women in Hollywood.

I understand Viola Davis needs a pay cheque but taking on the role of a maid is demeaning.

The trailer for The Help is so racist and sexist against black women. I just feel so sick watching this racist garbage!

It is so sad that the best role Viola Davis can get since her Academy Award nomination for Doubt is just being the black mammy! It is so so deleterious and abhorrent that Viola would take this disgusting role as a maid to a white woman!

The Help engenders the discourse that a black woman purpose is to be subservient to white folks. I also find the racist narrative of the white saviour in The Help problematic. In the 1960s, civil rights movement my black elders helped themselves they did not sit and wait for white folks to gain freedom!


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