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I finally saw the movie, "The Help". Have a ?


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I'm probably the last person in the country to see the movie "The Help". I had read the book in early 2011 but didn't really want to see the movie as I thought Hollywood would ruin it. Happily, I was wrong. :001_smile:

 

Seeing the movie made me wonder - has anyone ever put together a book on the real experiences of black maids in the South from that era and earlier? I know of and have read several slave narratives, but I don't think I've seen anything like The Help irl.

 

Does anyone know if there is a real book on this subject? and how real/true was The Help ?

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I believe that The Help (which I don't have handy at the moment) references several oral history books that supplied source material. I have not read them, but there was one key one that was referenced at the back of 'The Help' that seemed to dominate, and if I wanted to read more about this, I would look for that one.

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I saw it as grossly exaggerated. Every family I knew in my parents' hometown in Mississippi had a maid, and they were treated very well. No one would have dreamed of speaking unkindly to a maid. Maids stayed with families for years, and sometimes generations (my grandmother's maid stayed with her for over 50 years). Families didn't become "best buddies" with their maids, but these were employer-employee relationships.

 

I was horrified at the cake incident. I simply cannot envision something like that happening among the people I knew. The maids (and most of the employing families) I knew were all Christians, and they treated each other with kindness.

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Well, of course I think it's exaggerated. I don't have a maid now, but we did growing up, she was the boss and she brought her baby to work with her, not all the time but sometimes. When she told us to do something we all jumped, and I mean mom and dad too.

 

My brother and sil's maid brings her boys to work, they swim in the pool and play with my nephews. My youngest nephew thinks they are his cousins. I think they pay for her car. She is treated with huge respect and love.

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Oh, Remudamom, you just brought back one of my worst memories! One time a maid *switched* me for not obeying! She told me to do something. I was reading and I told her I'd get to it, but then I forgot. Fifteen minutes later she hauled me off and gave me the punishment I deserved. Ouch! My dad backed her up, too!

 

Oh, and I don't even want to get into the time I was at a neighbor boy's house and he brought out some issues of Playboy he'd found. We tried to hide them when his maid came in, but she found them and told our parents.

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Rebecca and Remudamom, thank you for sharing your perspectives. I suspected the book was rather over the top.

 

Carol, I'll have to go look for the referenced book, thanks!

 

AprilMay, let us know what you think!

 

 

I found an interesting discussion on Amazon - here is the link if anyone is interested -http://www.amazon.com/A-Dissenting-view-THE-HELP/forum/Fx2YKUR3AJKEGHQ/Tx1Y8CU5JAO8DW6/1/ref=cm_cd_dp_ef_tft_tp?_encoding=UTF8&asin=B001PYO3GC

 

Anyone else have any thoughts on The Help ?

Edited by Mothersweets
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I read the book several months ago, and just last week saw the movie.

 

In my honest opinion, no, I don't think it was exaggerated. I think it was very spot on.

 

There was also another thread in the book/movie about Celia Rae, which I found to be very moving as well. Wouldn't you say she showed Christian love toward Minny, though found herself the target of much hatred and spite? (FWIW, I still see this going on around me today.) So of course, no, not everyone behaved in the manner of Hilly Holbrook. But I'm sure there were more than a few who did, and that's what the book/movie wanted to depict. Remember, both sides of the issue were shown, not just one.

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I saw it as grossly exaggerated. Every family I knew in my parents' hometown in Mississippi had a maid, and they were treated very well. No one would have dreamed of speaking unkindly to a maid. Maids stayed with families for years, and sometimes generations (my grandmother's maid stayed with her for over 50 years). Families didn't become "best buddies" with their maids, but these were employer-employee relationships.

 

I was horrified at the cake incident. I simply cannot envision something like that happening among the people I knew. The maids (and most of the employing families) I knew were all Christians, and they treated each other with kindness.

 

 

Seriously!!!!???? This is why more truth is needed when it comes to subjects like this. I was raised in Jackson, Mississippi. With a looong line domestics throughout my family and community. This book and movie did not even tell the half of the mistreatment that they endured. Just because servants and nannies may walk around with a smile and things may seem delightful to the families that employ them, it is usually not so.

 

These people who endured mistreated did so because they needed to feed and edicate their families, not because they were bosom buddies with their employees.

 

I would almost compare your statement to when someone says that slavery wasn't all that bad!

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Wow! What a lot of hostility! Well, my family didn't live in Jackson, and I never saw what went on in *your* family, but I can assure you that I never heard one unkind word spoken to a maid in her presence or about a maid in her absence. They were given a high degree of trust and were always faithful. My great-aunt (almost 90 years old at the time) spent every day at the hospital when our maid of 50-something years was dying. These were long-standing relationships, not only in our family but in the families of everyone I knew.

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Seriously!!!!???? This is why more truth is needed when it comes to subjects like this. I was raised in Jackson, Mississippi. With a looong line domestics throughout my family and community. This book and movie did not even tell the half of the mistreatment that they endured. Just because servants and nannies may walk around with a smile and things may seem delightful to the families that employ them, it is usually not so.

 

These people who endured mistreated did so because they needed to feed and edicate their families, not because they were bosom buddies with their employees.

 

I would almost compare your statement to when someone says that slavery wasn't all that bad!

 

Um, yeah, seriously. Betty Ruth was treated with utmost respect by all of us. We didn't want to lose her and like they say, good help is hard to find. Plenty of others ready to hire a maid looking for a change. Maybe you should clue us in as to how your family (mis)treated "domestics"?

 

I never heard of a maid pooping in food, or stealing. Sorry. Don't believe it. And for curiosity's sake, how do you know what they endured?

 

I know people in lots of different professions that walk around with a smile on their face and make things seem delightful when it is not so. Welcome to the world.

Why would it have to be only poor servants and nannies? I guess because of us evil Southerners, who think slavery "was not so bad".

Edited by Remudamom
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This book and movie did not even tell the half of the mistreatment that they endured. Just because servants and nannies may walk around with a smile and things may seem delightful to the families that employ them, it is usually not so.

 

 

 

Yep.

 

Something I think many here are overlooking is the fact that Celia Foote did not treat Minny unkindly. Instead, she saw her as a best friend, when no one else would be one to her. Didn't she insist on sitting down to eat with her, bringing her Cokes, and preparing a special meal for her?

 

So again, not everyone treated these women unkindly, but there were definitely some who did. And also remember that Celia was treated unkindly, simply because she came from the wrong side of the tracks, so to speak. My heart went out to her, for she truly endured much from the other women in town. I think that if Celia had come from a family of social standing, Hilly would have been mad about her marriage to Johnny, but she would have been a bit more polite to her, though through gritted teeth.

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This is great that you all or families had servants that were well treated but until you have walked in their shoes, you really have no idea. You also have no idea the impact it makes on the families. For the most people, these black domestics were no where near deemed in equal by the families that worked for.

 

For a person to say that the book or movie was exaggerated is a slap in the face for the ones that actually lived it.

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The book wasn't trying to make the point that every maid was mistreated, but that every maid had a story to tell and some of those stories were of mistreatment. Are people here really trying to say they don't believe maids were mistreated just because they didn't see it?

 

I am sure the friends of Skeeter (Hilly and the other one whose name escapes me at the moment) didn't think they were mistreating their maids at all.

 

There were also instances of kindness shown to maids in addition to Minny and Celia's story.

 

I have some problems with the book (but I enjoyed it anyway), but certainly not with the idea that maids may have been mistreated in the South!

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Um, yeah, seriously. Betty Ruth was treated with utmost respect by all of us. We didn't want to lose her and like they say, good help is hard to find. Plenty of others ready to hire a maid looking for a change. Maybe you should clue us in as to how your family (mis)treated "domestics"?

 

I never heard of a maid pooping in food, or stealing. Sorry. Don't believe it. And for curiosity's sake, how do you know what they endured?

 

I know people in lots of different professions that walk around with a smile on their face and make things seem delightful when it is not so. Welcome to the world.

Why would it have to be only poor servants and nannies? I guess because of us evil Southerners, who think slavery "was not so bad".

 

 

I know what they endured because my grandmother, her mother, and her mother, my great aunts, great cousins, the older women in my church and community worked as domestics in some capacity. My great grandmother and great, great grandmother even served as a wetnurse for the family she worked and still endured mistreatment.

 

As far as the "evil southerner" thing, you said that, I didn't.

 

I am a southerner, born and raised. My experince is different because I am Black.

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I grew up in the south in the sixties, and so did my dh. While I thought the movie was exaggerated, he found it spot on. We had very different experiences growing up.

 

We had a maid, Irene, when I was growing up. We loved her, and I believe she loved us too. I got the worst spanking of my life for talking back to her. She didn't do it, my mother did. It was her I wanted when I was upset or afraid as a child. She came back to take care of my daddy when he was near the end of his life, even though she was retired, because she didn't want anyone else to do it.

 

My dh on the other hand, saw his family mistreat their help horribly. Which is probably why they told us we were not welcome in their home when we adopted black children.

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I haven't seen The Help either so I can't comment on that. I am just amazed that people mentioned they had a maid growing up or know of someone that has one now. I can't imagine having enough money or a large enough home to have a maid. Is a maid another name for a nanny?

 

The economy in the south was different than what it is now. Loads of elderly people that we know here had maids growing up. Almost no one does now. Someone might have a person come in once a week, but they could be of any race.

 

 

Even when my dad was in the military making less than $80 a month, my parents had a maid overseas. She was only $10 a month.

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I haven't seen The Help either so I can't comment on that. I am just amazed that people mentioned they had a maid growing up or know of someone that has one now. I can't imagine having enough money or a large enough home to have a maid. Is a maid another name for a nanny?

 

I barely knew anyone who didn't have a maid. My aunt had a maid and a cook.

Everyone had a yard man to do the yard work. When I was in college someone came occasionally and cleaned my apartment.

 

I don't have one. Never have. One sister and one brother have help. One sister and one brother don't.

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Of course the pie wasn't real.

 

To say that the stories of The Help were exaggerated is to minimize/invalidate the very real experiences of blacks in the Deep South.

 

YOUR experience may have differed - and that is great - but you cannot speak for the whole of that segment of society. Really, though, unless you lived that era as a black person, you can't speak for a single one of them.

Edited by TammyH
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Of course the pie wasn't real.

 

To say that the stories of The Help were exaggerated is to minimize/invalidate the very real experiences of blacks in the Deep South.

 

YOUR experience may have differed - and that is great - to you cannot speak for the whole of that segment of society. Really, though, unless you lived that era as a black person, you can't speak for a single one of them.

 

 

No, I can't, and neither can I speak for every white woman that had help. And neither can a black woman speak for every black woman.

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And that's how it always swings back. Racial.

 

I'm sorry for what your family had to go through. Everyone goes through something.

 

Excuse me Remudamon,

Do you think that race does not play a part in how these women were treated?

 

If so, I can't continue on.

 

Have a good day.

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Sorry, I won't believe the **** in the pie was factual.

 

The book is fiction, that incident was a part of the plot of a book. It was important to the book, no one claimed it was a true incident

Historical fiction is set in a time period, may include some real people, but are fiction none the less.

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Of course the pie wasn't real.

 

Really, though, unless you lived that era as a black person, you can't speak for a single one of them.

 

I think this is spot on.

 

People often forget that race does matter when it comes to perspective. My father is from the South, and found a real learning experience in marrying my mother. (from Mexico) There were things that he would not have thought of as cruel, hurtful, or even racist in anyway that appalled my mother. It was not a matter of him being some "horrible Southerner." It was just a matter of perspective. When they came to Mexico for visits, the roles often switched. There is also racism here, and my father was often shocked by it, while others were not. Just perspective.

 

Danielle

 

Danielle

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My husband is from Jackson, MS as well as his entire family. My husband's grandfather was mayor of Jackson in the 40's or 50's. They all had "help". Many of them still do. My mother and father-in-law both saw the movie and they all felt it was very believable.

 

In fact I have only visited my husband's family in MS a few times and have always been surprised that they still have black "help". Dh's aunt and uncle have the children and grandchildren of dh's grandparent's "help" still working for them. (Hope that makes sense). I found it odd and it reminded me of slavery. From my own experience Jackson is VERY segregated even to this day.

 

I loved the book and movie and hope it will educate a new generation to the injustices that have occurred and unfortunately continue to occur in America.

 

God Bless,

Elise in NC

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Having lived in the deep South most of my life (and having read the book as well as seen the movie), I think that those who see this as exaggerated are as correct as those who see it as accurate - because (just as the book intimates) both sorts of lifestyles were occurring side by side.

 

There were good people who loved those who worked with (not for) them most of their lives. They saw them as friends if not family. There was mutual respect and love from both sides of that sort of equation.

 

There were other people who could never see themselves as equal players on the same playing field and who could not or would not (for a large variety of reasons) let down the barriers (at least not all of them) that separated black from white at that time.

 

And there was a huge shading of relationships between those two extremes, so both viewpoints are viable, in my opinion.

 

Prejudice remains an unspoken barrier that permeates life in some areas even today. I am always somewhat surprised by it when we're back in Baton Rouge for a visit long enough for me to roam around town to any extent and speak with a variety of people. I certainly saw it loud and clear as if I were still in the 50's the summer I spent working in Tunica, MS and trying to place people in jobs in Memphis....

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I didn't see the movie and I'm not from the South, so please excuse my ignorance. Were maids really that common in that time period, even in middle class families? I don't know anyone who had a maid. Even in my parent's generation, maids were not common and my mom talks about how her mother worked night and day to keep up with the house standards of the day while raising five children.

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I know there was some input. The author of the book and the diirector were friends and grew up in Jackson Mississippi and were raised by maids. In fact, after the one maid is arrested and skeeter goes to the house and all the maids are there. The first one to say that she will help, that one is the one who raised the director irl. I thought that was interesting.

 

Of course it was over the top and a work of fiction. It was based in reality, but is not reality. I enjoyed it. My Dad read the book with me and told me it was good that it was out there to give my generation a little bit better of an idea of how things were.

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We had a maid. She came to our house four and a half days per week. She ironed our SHEETS! I knew lots of people who had black maids. Ours did not cook, but the lady who worked for the neighbors across the street did. I knew lots of people who had maids.

 

I felt like some parts of the book were exaggerated but not all. Though my family treated our maid kindly and with respect, I am sure that was not the case with everyone. I could relate to some parts of the book really well. Our maid wore a uniform and always ate in the kitchen. She was with our family for years. She didn't ride the bus as she had a car, but several maids who worked in our neighborhood rode the bus. They all wore uniforms. We have some family friends whose maid was with them for nearly forty years. When the daughter got married their maid sat on the front row with the family. She was the only black person in attendance at the wedding.

 

Interestingly, my mom didn't hire a maid for the purpose of looking after me. It was rare that Alta was in charge of me. My mom wanted a maid so she could have time with me. I do remember one time when my mom ran to the grocery story, and I sassed off to Alta. Believe me, my mom 100% took her side, and I caught what for!

 

Has anyone ever heard the expression that in the South they hate the race but love the person, but in the North they hate the person but love the race? Thoughts on the truth to that???? Just curious.

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Has anyone ever heard the expression that in the South they hate the race but love the person, but in the North they hate the person but love the race? Thoughts on the truth to that???? Just curious.

 

I've never heard that, but have experienced it for sure.

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I know very little about the South and civil rights...but I was always under the impression that black people were treated much worse than what was depicted in the film. I grew up mostly middle class, white, and liberal, so perhaps my view is skewed.

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I know very little about the South and civil rights...but I was always under the impression that black people were treated much worse than what was depicted in the film. I grew up mostly middle class, white, and liberal, so perhaps my view is skewed.

 

My mom was raised in the south during the time period of this story. They were poor and certainly didn't have a maid....but she says the attitudes are spot on. She loved the movie and found it very believable (although for plot furtherance I am sure some things were exaggerated).

 

If you had a maid during that time I think you can tell how YOU felt about them and their service/work for you and your family, but would have no way of knowing how they really felt about their lot in life.

 

Class divisions are always easier for the ones on the top.

 

Edited to add---I am almost finished reading the book right now! Can't wait to see the movie.

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Injustice is wrong. Treating people in a humiliating and degrading fashion is wrong. Hiring someone to do a job for you because you can afford to, don't want to do the job yourself, and they need the money is not wrong.

 

I say this because sometimes it seems people bristle at the word "maid." You have string a lot more words than that together to make me think something horrible is going on.

 

I can't speak to the accuracy of The Help. I enjoyed both the book and the movie but didn't grow up in the Deep South and have not experienced that culture in that time, nor talked to anyone who did.

 

My one burning curiosity was the bathroom thing. Did people really have special bathrooms added to their homes? I don't remember seeing any books referenced in my copy of The Help to look into the matter further.

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Injustice is wrong. Treating people in a humiliating and degrading fashion is wrong. Hiring someone to do a job for you because you can afford to, don't want to do the job yourself, and they need the money is not wrong.

 

I say this because sometimes it seems people bristle at the word "maid." You have string a lot more words than that together to make me think something horrible is going on.

 

I can't speak to the accuracy of The Help. I enjoyed both the book and the movie but didn't grow up in the Deep South and have not experienced that culture in that time, nor talked to anyone who did.

 

My one burning curiosity was the bathroom thing. Did people really have special bathrooms added to their homes? I don't remember seeing any books referenced in my copy of The Help to look into the matter further.

 

Never heard of or knew of anyone with a separate bathroom. I was born in 1964, so my experience is a slightly later time period.

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I'm probably the last person in the country to see the movie "The Help". I had read the book in early 2011 but didn't really want to see the movie as I thought Hollywood would ruin it. Happily, I was wrong. :001_smile:

 

Seeing the movie made me wonder - has anyone ever put together a book on the real experiences of black maids in the South from that era and earlier? I know of and have read several slave narratives, but I don't think I've seen anything like The Help irl.

 

Does anyone know if there is a real book on this subject? and how real/true was The Help ?

 

I found this book on Amazon, but I haven't read it yet; I requested it from my library, so I should have it in hand sometime next week. The author worked as a domestic starting at age 9.

 

http://www.amazon.com/Coming-Age-Mississippi-Anne-Moody/dp/0385337817/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1325966599&sr=8-1

Edited by LizzyBee
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Excuse me Remudamon,

Do you think that race does not play a part in how these women were treated?

 

If so, I can't continue on.

 

Have a good day.

 

 

Look at Hilly. She was a b!tch to everyone. She didn't care what color they were. Look at how she treated her own momma. Then look at Skeeter. She treated everyone with kindness, except that jerk date, and she even gave him a second chance.

 

What played a part in how the women were treated were the people doing the treating. They either treated people well or they didn't.

 

Treating people badly does not make you a racist. It makes you an @ss. Generalizations about a race make you a racist.

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We were absolutely middle income. My father was a government worker and we lived in Northern VA. We lived in an apartment and we had a maid come in. Many middle income people did. It was very common. It still is very common in many countries. When I lived in Belgium, almost all the wives had a cleaning lady come in. These were primarily white women. When I lived in New Mexico, the maids were mostly hispanic or Indian. Who the maids are just depends on where you live. When I was in the DC area last, my cleaning people were all South American. When I do get cleaning help here, and I will once my house is more in order from moving, I don't know what race or nationality the workers will be. I don't hire that way. I hire people who come well recommended.

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I think that those who see this as exaggerated are as correct as those who see it as accurate - because (just as the book intimates) both sorts of lifestyles were occurring side by side.

 

There were good people who loved those who worked with (not for) them most of their lives. They saw them as friends if not family. There was mutual respect and love from both sides of that sort of equation.

 

There were other people who could never see themselves as equal players on the same playing field and who could not or would not (for a large variety of reasons) let down the barriers (at least not all of them) that separated black from white at that time.

 

And there was a huge shading of relationships between those two extremes, so both viewpoints are viable, in my opinion.

 

 

:iagree:

 

Treating people badly does not make you a racist. It makes you an @ss. Generalizations about a race make you a racist.

 

:iagree:

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I didn't see the movie and I'm not from the South, so please excuse my ignorance. Were maids really that common in that time period, even in middle class families? I don't know anyone who had a maid. Even in my parent's generation, maids were not common and my mom talks about how her mother worked night and day to keep up with the house standards of the day while raising five children.

 

My mom grew up in Ohio, and her family had a full-time housekeeper (Polish, not African-American) in the same time frame as The Help is supposed to take place. My grandparents were not wealthy, just regular middle-class. There were a lot fewer jobs open to women at that time, and many women who needed to work had to become domestics.

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Whenever a system is set up in which one group has power over another, there will be abuses. I cannot comment on the veracity of The Help, but I could imagine every incident in it being transposed to Hong Kong in the 1990s and the treatment of Filipina maids by middle class families there. The Filipinas' visas were dependent on their contracts with a particular family: if the contract was cancelled for any reason, then they had no right to remain in Hong Kong. The salary that they were paid often supported a large extended family, or was putting children through university. The power was all with the employers and abuse was common; there is also a racial aspect to this relationship.

 

Laura

Edited by Laura Corin
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