I gotta tell ya, ever since I saw the trailer for “The Help,” I have been cringing at the thought this movie would be every bit as excruciating as the preview suggests. Yes, a movie about how a plucky white girl in early-’60s Mississippi empowers the black domestic class by putting on cateye glasses and telling their story:
Skeeter (the plucky one) gets a job as a newspaper cleaning-advice columnist, but when she asks Aibileen for some tips, she realizes that the real story lies in the emotional lives of black women who virtually raise their white employers’ children, but who are treated by those same families as unfit to share a kitchen utensil, much less political or economic power. “You is kind, you is smart and you is impo’tant,” Aibileen repeatedly intones to her young white charge.
I gather “The Help” has been a book-club and best-selling sensation since its publication. I haven’t read it, so I suppose it would be wrong to judge, but just from the capsule plot summaries, it sounds fairly excruciating. Does Skeeter also teach her town’s domestics to dance? No?
The Times’ critic isn’t impressed, except by Viola Davis, who could class up a clown car. She’s so good, I fear she’s in danger of becoming a 21st-century distaff Sidney Poitier, but fingers crossed she still has a comedy or three in her. Has anyone read this book? Am I being unfair? I is not an impo’tant critic, but still.
Ah, the heat has finally broken. We can lay our heads against autumn’s cool cheek this morning, although just for a bit. It’s still summer, and I intend to enjoy it, if I can ever get my work done.
Which I’d best do. Fortunately, some bloggage:
Via Jeff the Mild-Mannered, a Guardian look at the psychology of looting. Pretty clearheaded:
How can you despise culture but still want the flatscreen TV from the bookies? Alex Hiller, a marketing and consumer expert at Nottingham Business School, points out that there is no conflict between anomie and consumption: “If you look at Baudrillard and other people writing in sociology about consumption, it’s a falsification of social life. Adverts promote a fantasy land. Consumerism relies upon people feeling disconnected from the world.”
My community has a library millage on the ballot this November. So: Useful things to remember about librarians.
Oh, wow, look: Tina Brown’s being “provocative” again! I’m so totally provoked.
And I hate to bug out of here with such a weak, phoned-in offering, but I have a lot to do in two days, and I’d best get to it.