'The Butler' and 'The Help': Why different receptions?

  • Article by: Helena Andrews , The Root
  • Updated: August 27, 2013 - 7:01 PM

It seems to have worked out for Forest Whitaker in ‘The Butler.’ So why were Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer criticized for ‘The Help’?

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jdlellis1Aug. 27, 13 8:13 PM

Here's a better question, "Why as a society is so much emphasis placed on the entertainment industry?" There's this thing called artistic liberty and Hollywood has a propensity to drive drama and ensure movies are crafted for entertainment more than reality. Here's a good example. the movie "42" was not the first movie about Jackie Robinson. Jackie Robinson himself played in a Black & White biographical movie. Critics, criticized Mr. robinson's poor performance in playing himself! Read a book people,

orpheus90Aug. 27, 13 9:26 PM

From the article: ...the onslaught of accolades for the recent batch of films starring black men in historically complicated roles, from Jamie Foxx’s Django ... Oh please, Django? Other than the fact that it was set in the antebellum south, Django had about as much to do with history as Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds - strictly pop-revisionist revenge fantasy. Black history has yet to find full faith credit in american cinema. Where oh where, for example, is the great film about the Harlem Renaissance and all the extraordinary figures associated with it? Slavery and servitude have become staples for "serious" black films, but that's getting too easy. Simple, there are other stories to tell about black America.

mav132Aug. 27, 13 9:33 PM

The Butler was good, but The Help was better. Have to agree with the comments by jdellis1 and orpheus90. The movie makers always take liberties with truth as opposted to entertainment.

hobie2Aug. 27, 1310:10 PM

When cinema portrays a society as it was, with people portrayed doing tasks that the people of the time did, why do some jump up and say it's bad and demeaning to portray the people as subservient?... In the settings of cinema, when in mixed segregated society where they were the hired help, they were if they wanted to keep the job.Apparently we should lie?... Arranging society and history to fit a false reality using race is what is racist... Think about this - the show "Copper" has an Irishman as a detective in New York city at a time when the Irish were looked down on as morally corrupt beings; and with rare exception, their actions are clearly portrayed as such. Where are the voices decrying the portrayal of the Irish as demeaning? There aren't...

unionbossmanAug. 28, 13 7:30 AM

From all accounts the story line of the Butler was mostly fabricated.....with drips and drabs of historical fact.....

barbjensAug. 28, 13 7:44 AM

I saw the movie the Butler and enjoyed it. But went home and looked up the "original" butler on the computer. It took me quite awhile but eventually found the original man the movie was based on. The movie took great liberties and is probably good that he did not live to see what the movie did to "his story".

northhillAug. 28, 13 7:46 AM

I feel that both The Butler and The Help were excellent movies and the actors and actresses in them did a superb job in telling their characters story.The same critics who were critical of the Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer love shows like Downton Abbey where British actresses play maids and perform the same demeaning tasks.In both The Help and Downton Abbey maids are portrayed as strong positive women.Why is a show like Copper on BBC America instead of NBC or CBS? It takes courage to tell the truth. It takes courage to write these shows,act in these shows and most importantly watch these shows and learn from them; and not place 2013 values on them. We will never understand where we are today unless we understand where we once were in this country.

Interested ObserverAug. 28, 13 9:08 AM

I thought The Help was a great movie and I thought it did a good job with depicting the lives of the black servants in those times. The reviews on The Butler were mixed at best and said that the movie strayed so much from the true story that it became pure fiction. For instance, the Butlers father was not murdered by a white man, the Butlers son was not a civil rights activist and neither was the Butler. The Butlers wife was not an alcoholic and did not have an affair with the next door neighbor. Ronald Reagan was not a racist and the list of lies in the movie go on and on. The story would have been fine to be told in a truthful manner.

decembersueAug. 28, 13 9:33 AM

Uhm, the Help was FICTION - written by a white woman who imagined another white woman rescuing poor black people during the Jim Crowe era. The entire purpose of the movie was to make white people feel good about their own attitudes on race (and yes, I am white). The "evil" racists in The Help are caricatures, designed to be so horrible the viewer can smugly distance herself from them. All the action in the story comes from a white girl, and the black actors are never much more than props. That this writer can't see a difference between the Butler and the Help is actually a fantastic example of just how messed up racial politics have gotten in this country.

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