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‘The Help’ criticised for ‘white saviour’ tone as it becomes number one movie on Netflix

Viola Davis has said she regrets starring in the film

Clémence Michallon
New York City
Thursday 04 June 2020 21:27 BST
The Help trailer

The Help has come under renewed criticism after becoming the most watched movie on Netflix in the US.

The 2011 film was added to the streaming platform’s catalogue on 1 June.

By Wednesday 4 June, it had become the number one film on the US website, and it was the sixth most watched programme across both film and TV.

This increase in popularity prompted several Twitter users to point to the film’s “white saviour” tone, suggesting that other films would be more useful to people looking to educate themselves about racism.

The Help tells the story of a white woman who sets out to write a book told sharing the point of view of black maids in the Sixties in Mississippi.

Viola Davis, one of the film’s stars, has said she regrets accepting a role in it due to the way the story is told.

“I just felt that at the end of the day that it wasn’t the voices of the maids that were heard,” she told The New York Times in 2018.

“I know Aibileen. I know Minny [two maids in the film]. They’re my grandma. They’re my mom. 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.”

Twitter users appeared to echo Davis’s impressions, with one person writing: “The Help is a great movie, but when will we stop giving white-saviour films the most. And the fact that this movie is actually trending let’s me know that y’all have a f***** up idea of who saves who.”

The Help is about white saviour complex but y’all aren’t ready to have that conversation,” another person commented.

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