It’s not an essay just need about 7-10 complete. sentences.
Instructions: Read the following passage. Answer the ethical question following the passage. Respond to the question in 5-7 complete sentences.
One of the most successful movies of the summer of 2011 was also one of the most controversial. Set in the South during the pre–Civil Rights era, The Help, based on Kathryn Stockett’s 2009 best seller, depicts the relationships between upper-middle-class white women and the working-class black women who took care of their homes and families. On the surface, the film seems to challenge racism and offer a richer view of the lives of the black domestic workers. However, it sparked debate among film critics and audiences about its representation of race, questioning whether or not the black maids and their co-cultural experiences within a dominant white culture were accurately depicted or if the film relied too heavily on stereotypes about race and racism that have long permeated popular culture.
The narrative of this film centers on the daily struggles of two black domestic workers, Aibileen (Viola Davis) and Minny (Octavia Spencer), employed in white households in Jackson, Mississippi, during the early 1960s. Their struggles as domestics are brought to light when Skeeter (Emma Stone), the white daughter of Aibileen’s employer, writes a book based on interviews with Aibileen, Minny, and other black maids.
For many African Americans in particular, The Help resurrected negative stereotypes about black culture. Prior to the release of the film, a statement issued by the Association of Black Women Historians challenged The Help on many levels, including its reliance on the “Mammy” stereotype that frames black women as “asexual, loyal, and contented caretakers of whites” who support the physical and emotional development of white children to the detriment of their own families. This stereotype, they argue, fails to recognize the economic realities that historically forced black women into such low-paying and often exploitative domestic work, as well as racist political and social discourses that framed relationships between black domestic workers and white families. By framing the film as “a progressive story of triumph over racial injustice,” they argue, “The Help distorts, ignores, and trivializes the experiences of black domestic workers.”
This is not to say that all black audiences rejected The Help’s representation of race relations in the United States. Patricia Turner, African American studies professor and vice provost for undergraduate studies at the University of California–Davis, suggests that because the film in fact tackled the complex issue of race in America, it does indeed represent an important step toward successful intercultural dialogue in this country. As a black woman raised in the era of Civil Rights by a mother who, like the women in the film, worked as a maid, Turner argues that The Help creates the opportunity for an important public dialogue about race (“Dangerous White Stereotypes”). She challenges audiences to recognize the underlying messages about race and racism called up by the film and compare its fictionalized representation of black and white relationships to historical realities. Similarly, Entertainment Weekly film critic Owen Gleiberman calls on audiences to engage with the film and its problems rather than simply condemning it as “racist.” He “envision[s] audiences, black and white, watching The Help, all sharing a greater understanding of our past” (“Is ‘The Help’ a condescending movie for white liberals?”). He hopes that instead of simply rejecting the film as “racist,” audiences will use the potential problems of the film as a starting point for discussion about how this depiction of race in America’s past speaks to our understanding of race in the present.
Do you think films like The Help offer audiences a way to challenge our own co-culturally ingrained stereotypes or do they simply reinforce them in the name of entertainment?
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