The title alone was enough for me to know to stay away. The synopsis confirmed that I had made the right decision: A young southern white woman with dreams of becoming a writer comes home from college and upon hearing the news that her mammy has abruptly left Mississippi for Chicago, realizes that black maids are treated differently from white people and thusly decides to write about them from their perspective. This, folks, is a classic case of cinematic enwhitlement…and exactly how Hollywood–and the rest of America–addresses race: A well-meaning (often southern) and heretofore racially oblivious (shall we say color-blind?) white person randomly discovers that the Negro they love most (and by extension other black people) is treated “differently,” becomes tragically affected by the epiphany, heroically takes up the cause (on a micro or macro level), and gets some Colored Only signs removed. Oh and a whole bunch of funny shit happens in the middle. Like Klansmen becoming comic relief. Yep. That’s exactly how Jim Crow was.
i know it’s fucked up but i’m still seeing it.
Of course, it is actually based on a book, which was based on the real life of the writer of the book.
Admittedly, the book’s writer was born in 1969, which was after (according to educational sources, not necessarily reality) the Civil Rights Movement was over. She was raised by a black maid, but she still wouldn’t have understood the intricacies of the time or of what her surrogate parent went through. Still, from what I’ve heard from people of various races and backgrounds, the story is a pretty good portrayal of things that went on.
Even if it isn’t the most sensitive portrayal of the story of 1960’s in the Southeast, it is still a more respectable piece of American film when it comes to portrayals of black folks in this country. Most movies and films feature people of different races as stock characters. This film actually tries to break from that kind of mold by giving talented people like Octavia Spencer, Cicely Tyson, and Viola Davis the opportunity to have strong, intelligent characters to portray, which is something that Hollywood is sadly lacking for black women. Even if the story isn’t completely understanding of what went on during the time period, it will show society that we, as a society, need to provide roles of integrity to women and men of different backgrounds.