My sister watched the movie online today and felt the need to come tell me about certain scenes, despite the fact that she knows how I feel about the movie, the author, and the book, and what I know from reading about its presentations of racism and Black women. I immediately felt myself getting angry, as I knew I would. So, sensing this, my sister left the room and went to finish watching the movie alone.
Instead of actually having a conversation about the book, I ended up addressing the behaviors of the two commenters and their personal attacks when they decided to stop by and repeat racist (the white commenter) or hostile, passive aggressive patterns of commenting (the Black commenter) on my blog as they have in other places with me or in my presence in online discussions.
I officially gave myself permission to boycott this mess on principle, but all joking aside—
Why should we continue to have racist literature and film created at the hands of white folks shoved down our throats or proffered as legitimate because of their attempt at writing on the subject matter? We’re not taking it lying down, some of us, but why should accept their racist portrayals of us when we know ourselves better and can express ourselves and our experiences just fine? Read my more nuanced prospective and criticism here.
Reading critical commentary, reviews, and impressions from other Black women saying NO to this movie and NO to this book added to my sense of vindication. I agree that you can’t completely judge a book or movie without seeing/reading it for yourself. But Black women and other Black people should be able to and have to choose what to give their time to and what they’re just going to say a plain NO to. The Help is something that I plainly feel the need to just say NO to, both the book and the movie. I have said NO and I will continue to say NO for a long time.
There were suggestions that I waste my money on it, take the time to get it from the library, and watch the bootleg if I didn’t want to pay for it. What I think Tosh Fomby and Beverly Diehl were missing was the most important part of my brief commentary on The Help: I am choosing NOT give the book or the movie my time or my limited resources aside from stating why I’ve taken this stance. It’s that simple.
I’m very resistant when I come up against “the read it/see it anyway” argument.
Call it intuition. Call it believing what I’ve heard about it. Call it knowing a disaster when I see it and read about it. Whatever. Contrary to sensationalistic hype and praise surrounding the film and book, I don’t feel like I’m missing anything that I haven’t seen before in a dozen racist movies a dozen times over again before.
Judging by my reaction to a two-minute conversation about the film launched on me suddenly in my home, I know I’m still not ready to engage the film or the book nor do I have any desire to do so. And I mean that.