Today's topic at my blog "Resurgence" on BigThink.com:
The Help Elbows Accepted Historical Narrative Of The South Aside
For some strange reason, I ended up watching the new movie The Help yesterday, less than twenty four hours after viewing Driving Miss Daisy for the first time. The most enduring conclusion I could draw from the whole experience? General Sherman should have burned every god damned thing in the entire Confederacy down to the ground during the Civil War.
In my mind, Viola Davis had already earned the Oscar for best actress for her portrayal of maid Aibileen Clark as soon as I saw the look in her eyes, a soul numbed stare that America had invested over three hundred years of intense and unceasingly relentless physical and psychological terror to produce. The combination of outstanding cinematography and astonishingly precise dialogue in both films had me, a middle aged African American man who has lived in the South his whole life, short of breath and anxious, even though I knew it was all make believe. The brown skinned actors on the screen who so artfully brought these two scripts to life were not just actors, but people who looked and acted just like members of my own extended family. They are my great uncles and aunts, they are my grandparents, they are stand-ins for the stars of my family’s own sagas from this same era. Much of this family lore ends benignly, just like these two movies did, which has always led me to wonder about the unspoken stories with much, much worse endings.