Last week, amid global protests over the death of George Floyd, Netflix US reported that The Help had become its number one most-viewed film at the time. One of its stars, Bryce Dallas Howard, thinks you can pick a better movie.
Despite originally debuting to positive reviews, The Help was later criticised for its white saviour narrative. The film itself was directed by a white man, based on a book by a white woman, about a white woman’s decision to write about the lives of black maids.
In 2018, Viola Davis – who starred as maid Aibileen Clark – said she regretted being in the movie.
“I just felt like at the end of the day that it wasn’t the voices of the maids that were heard,” Davis told The New York Times. “I know Aibileen. I know Minny. They’re my grandma. They’re my mum. 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.”
So instead of watching The Help, Howard – who starred as racist Hilly Holbrook in the film – suggested other movies and TV shows that are more educational about black history and racial injustice.
“I’ve heard that The Help is the most viewed film on Netflix right now!” Howard shared on Instagram. “I’m so grateful for the exquisite friendships that came from the 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.”
She continued, “Stories are a gateway to radical empathy and the greatest ones are catalysts for action.”
The actor and director then listed a number of films that focus on black lives, stories, creators, and performers including 13th, Selma, Say Her Name: The Life and Death of Sandra Bland, and When They See Us.
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I’ve heard that #TheHelp is the most viewed film on @netflix right now! 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. 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: 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 When They See Us This is not a comprehensive list so please add to it in the comments below!
Howard also encouraged her followers to share more titles in the comments.
As for the films promoted, you can find 13th and When They See Us on Netflix Australia. A number of the other titles, including I Am Not Your Negro and Malcolm X are available to rent on services like Google Play and Amazon. And you can find Watchmen on Foxtel’s new streaming service, Binge.