The movie The Help

Susan and I went to see a very good movie the other night: The Help. Guys, you may think this is a "chick flick," but I'm telling you there is a lot of substance here for all of us. While trying not to give away too much of the story, here are some of the elements of the movie I appreciated:

  • The movie is about race relations. I half expected to see familiar cliches: people of one skin color are good, and people of another skin color are evil. Not so in The Help. Characters are varied, and their views on race are not uniform or necessarily predictable.
  • Faith plays an important part in the story. Aibeleen, one of the movie's primary protagonists, makes decisions based on an inner conviction that God is leading her. For Aibeleen, living out her faith means taking dangerous risks and requires immense courage. It is a story of doing what God requires no matter what the consequences might be. And not all turns out rosy for Aibeleen. God does not make all her problems go away because she is obedient. However, she finds that ultimate good comes from obeying God, although good comes in unexpected ways.
  • The act of listening also plays an important part in breaking down the barriers between people who, in that culture, should not have been talking to one another. It was a reminder that listening breaks down barriers of many kinds. In The Help, listening is the tool by which Skeeter, a young white woman, is drawn into genuine friendship with black domestic workers. For as much as racism fundamentally revolves around dehumanizing others, the act of listening rehumanizes them and is one of the few forces that is capable of undoing racism.
In fact, for me, watching The Help was an act of listening. I don't know what life was like for black domestic workers in the deep South in the early 1960s. The Help tells a story that opens up their world to me just a little. When good movies are few and far between, this is a story worth listening to.

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