I'd told some friends that, at the end of 2011, I was not going to address some of the social issues I see pertaining to "the community." I've realized that some things are totally beyond my control. I'm getting older and can't be stressin' about things I really cannot change. Friends are dying. Life is passing. In fact, you will soon see a change for me here at Psychology Today.
But after seeing the results of the SAG Awards, and learning that the movie The Help "won big," I just need to make one comment, and offer the thoughts of someone else.
Before doing so, let me say that I KNOW jobs are hard to come by for Black actresses in Hollywood; that's because the slight is still there. So to get any gig in the industry is wonderful, and I AM happy for Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer and the other ladies. I am. Work on! Rock on, ladies!
But, having said that... WHAT is the deal with the movie The Help?
Why do movies that continue to show Black women as slaves, whores, maids, etc., get lauded (think Halle Berry for sleeping with the "white trash" character portrayed by Billy Bob Thornton, etc.), but not exalted, recognized, or lauded in other movies in which Black women are accomplished, polished, beloved, intelligent (or educated might be a better word, since yes, the domestic workers in The Help were intelligent)?
During the 2012 SAG Awards, apparently The Help beat out The Artist and other movies for many of the top awards. This stuff--these images--go all over the country, all over the world: The persistent perpetual image of Black nanny, slave, domestic toilet cleaners.
I did not see The Help; have no desire to do so. But I SO wish this solo-imagery would come to an abrupt halt.
Please make sure you're clear: My comments are not a slight on the people in those fields; the issue is the perpetual pattern of the movie industry to laud movies in which such is the go-to, universal image of Black women, to the basic exclusion of other images.
It is 2012. Black women are CEOs, entrepreneurs, doctors, lawyers, accountants, astronauts, and scientists. They/We are physicians, real estate developers, and architects. We hold MAJOR positions in the companies that rule our world (click here to see a list of just a few; and here and here for related topics). We are loving, and loved wives, and mothers, and live in quite lovely homes; mansions, even. Many have "help" helping them.
When I asked a lawyer-friend about this, his comments are: "Yes, I saw it. Thought it was one sided, shallow; poorly-written, acted and directed, except that [she] was good. The movie was a ‘return to the comfort days' for white people. Blacks went to see it but it was a movie for whites. They remembered or wanted to remember their nannies. Or the nannies they wanted but never had. This movie had nothing to do with you or yours, just them and theirs."
I'm checking out of this conversation, or trying to. I just needed to share my concern. All the more reason why the likes of Tyler Perry (Madea character), Eddie Murphy (Norbit [I mean, really, Eddie?]), and Martin Lawrence's (Big Mama) movies need to stop. These guys have the money, and platform to promote POSITIVE imagery for the Black community and Black women. Make it happen. Stop with the buffoonery b*llS*it. It is destructive.
And to let other people tell the Black story...? Black movie producers have the means to tell it as it need be told. But the other problem is...many--even many in the Black community--won't and don't support the more positive films, so whats a filmmaker going to do? He follows the money...even to the negative imagery of his own people. I guess I just have a different social consciousness.
As I said, I just needed to share my concern about this issue...this one last time...I hope. (PS: The Super Bowl is coming; let's not have a repeat of the slap-a-brother-on-the-head imagery we saw last year.)
Be Healthy, Be Blessed...and make sure you are Living Well in 2012!
Living Well, Despite Catchin' Hell, a book about health, sex and happiness, with a foreword by Pauletta Washington, musician and wife of Academy Award winner, Denzel Washington; and endorsed by psychologist Dr. Jeff Gardere and others. The book includes current comparative data for Black, White, Hispanic, Asian and Native American women. The first book in 8 years addressing Black women's health. Some of the "hell" in the book is the negative media imagery of Black women. Peek Inside the Pages and view more info here. (print and eBook).
Copyright © 2012 Dr. Melody T. McCloud. All rights reserved. Any excerpts reproduced from this article should include a hyperlink to this--my original post on Psychology Today, with author credit. Feel free to post the link to this, and any of my PT posts, to your social network pages. Follow me here at PT (mostly); and now (I've finally joined the fray) on Twitter: @DrMelodyMcCloud.
Medical Bloopers! Amusing & Amazing Stories of Health Care Workers (foreword by Dr. Neil Shulman, author of Doc Hollywood). (now as an eBook)