Oct 17, 2011

The Help- My Thoughts

So I finally got around to seeing The Help with Mama on Friday.  I know I am woefully behind on this viewing, but I was overwhelmed by hype and reviews for the movie, so I held off for a bit.

Anyway, it's time for a glaringly obvious statement.

I am so thankful  that the Jim Crow era has passed, and segregation is not a part of our laws.

I'm sure you are thinking, "Why in the world am I wasting my time reading this inanity? Unless one is a Ku Klux Klan member, you are obviously grateful that segregation is gone.  What an idiot."

I tend to romanticize the early sixties a good deal.  The clothes!  The music! Gloves and hats! The cars! The lack of reality television!  Yep, I really missed my era.

Now, Mad Men has done an incredible job exploring the dark underbelly of the time, especially sexism.  However, I normally brush off any Mad Men induced qualms about my missed era.  After all, they would not apply to me.  I don't live in NYC.  Hubs isn't a womanizer (he would travel eras with me as well in my imagination).  I live in a small Southern city.  Being a stay at home mom, homemaking and volunteering would be fulfilling- no need for affairs with older politicians.  Hubs doesn't have a secret life.  Idyllic!

Except not.

So much of the movie felt eerily familar to me.  Certainly times have changed, but so many social interactions have not- from the young wives squealing at an old friend's arrival to baby fever sweeping  said group of young wives.  And we all know the domineering Hildy, whom it seems is present in every group of girls.

So I could relate. And mourn the instituationalized racism that pervaded the era- whether blatant like Southern cities, or more subtle as demonstrated on Mad Men. So I bid adieu to dreams of shirtdresses and kid gloves, woody station wagons sans car seats, and children safely playing all through the neighborhood until called in for supper.

I'm still dressing as pregnant Betty Draper for Halloween though.  Complete with glass of scotch and a cigarette.  Hope people get it- otherwise it's going to be a long, judgey night!


  1. I agree with your comments. While I love some things of the 60s I think sometimes people forget all of the other happenings.

    I love your costume idea!

  2. I saw The Help tonight in London. I agree entirely with your comments (being a Mad Men fan too) that it is easy to dismiss the social & political gulf between then & now by getting swept away by the glamour. Whenever I watch Mad Men with my mother, who lived through the sixties, she tends to walk out because to her the casual sexism & dubious treatment of women were are too real & not entertainment. However as a woman in my 20s I find the shocking thing is that none of this occurred that long ago!

  3. Love this post because I see a lot of what you mean around being in a small southern town. (I was also born in the wrong era, it happens to the best of us!)

    Also, your costume idea is so fun and smart! I know people will get it!

  4. Great post, Samma! To be honest the reader/viewer reaction to The Help frustrates me endlessly... I feel like everyone is so quick to proclaim Progress!, without realizing how real racism still is, and how prevalent. Your nuanced take here and ability to see the gray everywhere - because nothing is black and white - is so right-on.

  5. Haha, love your costume idea. Can't wait to see pictures!

  6. I have always longed to live in a different era, and my father echoed a lot of your sentiments when I loved the show American Dreams years ago. I haven't seen The Help yet, but did think the book did a great job with the reality of life in the 1960s from the perspectives of the women as well as the help.

    Can't wait to hear about your costume! ;)

  7. That is a FABULOUS idea for a costume! I read "The Help," but have yet to see the film. While there is so much to love about the early 60s, it certainly wasn't a proud moment for the South. But, so much has evolved since that time and, as Garden & Gun calls it, the "new South" is a wonderful place to be and celebrate life.

  8. I still haven't seen this movie, but I'm going to continue to hold off. Movies like this tend to frustrate me when I look at how far we still have to come.

    I do love the costume idea!

  9. Best Halloween costume idea ever. Best!

    I struggle with that same romanticizing of the early 60s era. You do a good job of noting the grey areas then & now, as Maggie commented.


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