Hollywood actress Octavia Spencer has expressed doubt over whether the hit 2011 movie The Help could be made today, saying society has taken a “very, very dangerous” turn.
Her comments come as woke tastes have turned against The Help because it tells the story of black maids working in the segregated South from the perspective of a white character. Following the race riots of 2020, stars Viola Davis and Bryce Dallas Howard have expressed regret or reservations about their participation in the movie due to its racial dynamics.
Octavia Spencer, who won an Oscar for her performance in The Help, explained her perspective in a conversation with restaurateur Bruce Bozzi on his “Table for Two” podcast.
“Why can’t the story be told? I think what’s happening in society right now is very, very dangerous because, you know, we are scrubbing the history books. And if we can’t point to our historical references, and if we can’t point to things like that in art, in history, we’re repeating history now, because we’ve been stripping those truths away,” she said.
Spencer added: “Could The Help be made today? I don’t know. Should The Help be made today? Absolutely. It represents real people who made real contributions to society who were never rewarded for those contributions.”
“Their stories should be told,” she said.
The Help tells the story of a young, white woman (played by Emma Sttone) who decides to jump-start her writing career by penning a book from the perspective of two black maids, Aibileen Clark (Viola Davis) and Minny Jackson (Octavia Spencer).
The movie was written and directed by Tate Taylor, who is a white male. It was adapted from the novel of the same name by Kathryn Stockett, who is a white female.
Viola Davis, who received an Oscar nomination for her performance, slammed the movie in a Vanity Fair interview in July 2020 at the height of the Black Lives Matter riots.
The movie is “invested in the idea of what it means to be black” but catered “to the white audience,” she said.
“There’s no one who’s not entertained by The Help. But there’s a part of me that feels like I betrayed myself, and my people, because I was in a movie that wasn’t ready to [tell the whole truth],” Davis said. The Help was “created in the filter and the cesspool of systemic racism.”
Bryce Dallas Howard expressed her reservations about the movie in a Facebook post.
“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 wrote in 2020.