The Help Controversy

The movie The Help is really raking it in at the box office. It opened a few weeks ago and so far, has made almost $87 million in the U.S. It is still in No. 1 place at the box office but it has not been without controversy.

In case you don’t know, The Help is about two African American maids working for white families in Jackson, Mississippi in the early ‘60s and a white woman who decides to write about the social injustice of the time.

It is based on the book written in 2009 by Kathryn Stockett. It was her first book and was rejected by 60 agents before one finally decided to represent her. Was it a case of racial injustice?

Hardly and that is where the controversy comes in. Stockett is white and many people are upset that she wrote about African American characters. Terry McMillan, herself a bestselling African American author, twitted that “No. I am not going to see The Help. Because I don’t want to. My Mama cleaned house in Michigan. I saw the real version. Past tense. She was not happy cleaning house. She also didn’t bring her work home with her.” She added, “When black writers write about black people white folks don’t read them. When they write about us: bestsellers.”

Some say Stockett can write the African American characters because she herself was raised by maids like she portrays in the novel. It seems that people either love or hate the movie.

But, that is not the only controversy. The real life African American maid of Stockett’s brother is suing Stockett, saying one of her characters in the book, Aibileen, is based on her. Ablene Cooper feels that not only did Stockett use her name and likeness in the book, but that the actions of that character paint her in an offensive and unflattering light. She is suing for $75,000 in damages. Stockett claims that she barely knew Cooper and all her characters are fictional.

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Libby Pelham

About Libby Pelham

I have always loved to write and gives me the opportunity to share my passion for writing with others. I work full-time as a web developer at UTHSC and most of my other time is spent with my son (born 2004). I love everything pop culture, but also enjoy writing about green living (it has opened my eyes to many things!) and health (got to worry about that as you get older!).