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By The Quiet Voice

Review of The Help and its view upon society

There's a great deal to be said about a society in which people depend upon one another, and more so about a community in which the hardest working individuals are the least valued. In a story that is as common as the rise of night and day, The Help reflects a time in American history when African American women were not only looked upon as caregivers, housekeepers, and servants, but as highly replaceable and no more important than the silverware they shined or the vacuums they pushed across countless floors for barely enough to feed their families and keep their homes. As can only be adequate for a tale such as this, the caption "Change begins with a whisper" is the driving force behind this story, and the stark beginning of a revolution that swiftly becomes a rallying cry for those who have suffered under an unfair yoke for far too long. During the time period of the film, African American women were struggling for change, no matter how it might come.

There is no doubt about the scope of the movie or its purpose as the young girl, Skeeter, goes about trying to right the wrongs and bring to light the cruelty and unfair manner in which those who serve her community, raise their children, and otherwise keep the households of her friends and neighbors running are served. An idealist, Skeeter, who was also raised by a woman employed by her own family, whose name is Constantine, at first only notices the plight of those around her, and while she does not agree with their treatment she does nothing, to begin with. This is the plight of those who observe but fear the social stigma that comes with action against the accepted norm, as Skeeter shows. As the story continues onward, however, she begins to see less and less sense in staying quiet and more promise in exposing the truth of her small Mississippi town by documenting the true accounts of the help, aided at first by Aibileen, who hesitantly begins the project with the aspiring young journalist.

The danger in presenting such views to the public at that time was that many of those who were in need of jobs could not so much as offer up a simple opinion without being fired on the spot, depending upon the household and the employer. There were no masters and slaves in many areas at this point, as African Americans were a free people. However they were still treated as second class citizens in many areas, fit only to serve and never ascend higher than their supposed station. No matter that there are a few depictions of people of color within the movie that have risen above the level of servitude, namely Constantine's daughter Rachel and several other key figures throughout the movie, the south was still notorious for turning a blind eye to the socioeconomic plight of the African Americans.

The Help is a movie meant to evoke the emotions as it deals with a variety of hardships and injustices that were fought against for many years to ensure that society would become an equal and level playing field for all people of all cultures and backgrounds. With its own flair for drama it seeks to showcase the plight of the African American woman during such times, and how hard it was to serve those who showed little if any real appreciation for the effort. Despite being made for a great deal of entertainment value, The Help is without a doubt a glimpse back into a time that was much less civil and far more indicative of why change is so vital to a community. While the South is to this day a far more equal place, the country at large is still plagued by inequity between its people, be it color, socioeconomic status, or some other factor that plays just as big a role in determining who counts and who does not. Unlike the movie, the situation is not so clear-cut and obvious, but the thought of equality is surely tempting.

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