“The Help” had a controversial debut on Netflix last week as the 2011 drama became the streaming giant’s most-watched movie amid global protests over the killing of George Floyd. Several film critics and journalists spoke out against the film’s white savior storyline and offered better films from black storytellers to watch in the current climate. One critic of watching “The Help” in this moment ended up being actress Bryce Dallas Howard, who plays the villainous Hillary “Hilly” Walters Holbrook in the movie. Howard took to her Facebook profile to admit “The Help” is perhaps not the best film to learn about civil rights.
“I’ve heard that ‘The Help’ is the most viewed film on Netflix right now,” Howard wrote in a post. “I’m so grateful for the exquisite friendships that came from that film – our bond is something I treasure deeply and will last a lifetime. This being said, ‘The Help’ is a fictional story told through the perspective of a white character and was created by predominantly white storytellers. We can all go further.”
“Stories are a gateway to radical empathy and the greatest ones are catalysts for action,” Howard continued. “If you are seeking ways to learn about the Civil Rights Movement, lynchings, segregation, Jim Crow, and all the ways in which those have an impact on us today, here are a handful of powerful, essential, masterful films and shows that center Black lives, stories, creators, and/or performers.”
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Howard proceeded to list films that are better-suited for streaming right now: “13th,” Eyes on the Prize,” I Am Not Your Negro,” Just Mercy,” Malcom X,” Say Her Name: The Life And Death Of Sandra Bland,” Selma,” “Watchmen,” and “When They See Us.” Both “Just Mercy” and “Selma” are streaming for free on digital platforms for the month of June.
Howard is far from the only “Help” cast member to express criticisms of the movie, which did earn an Oscar nomination for Best Picture and won Octavia Spencer the Best Supporting Actress prize. Viola Davis, whose role in the film landed her an Oscar nomination for Best Actress, has acknowledged she regrets acting in it.
“I just felt that at the end of the day that it wasn’t the voices of the maids that were heard,” Davis told The New York Times in 2018. “I know Aibileen. I know Minny. They’re my grandma. They’re my mom. And I know that if you do a movie where the whole premise is, I want to know what it feels like to work for white people and to bring up children in 1963, I want to hear how you really feel about it. I never heard that in the course of the movie.”
Read Howard’s Facebook post below.
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