A black Hollywood actress lamented the socio-political climate of filmmaking and wondered if the Oscar-nominated film she starred in just a decade ago would even make it past the approval stage today.
Octavia Spencer, who turned in a remarkable performance in the Civil Rights-era drama The Help, spoke up during a podcast with celebrity restaurateur Bruce Bozzi about how the prevailing social attitudes of modern life seem vastly different than when the film was produced in 2012.
Fox News described the film as being set in 1960s Mississippi and focused on the stories of African-American maids living “under the pressures of racism” in the households that they served.
The film, based on the bestselling novel by author Kathryn Stockett, took place in 1960s Jackson, Mississippi, and called attention to racial discrimination against Blacks in the Deep South at the dawn of the civil rights era.
The story follows the perspectives of African-American maids who live under the pressures of racism from the White, wealthy Southern families they serve, an aspect that garnered criticism from one of the film’s stars in recent years.
“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,” Spencer said. “And if we can’t point to our historical references, and we can’t point to things like that in art, in history, we’re repeating history now, because we’ve been stripping those truths away.”
“Could ‘The Help’ be made today? I don’t know,” she continued. “Should ‘The Help’ be made today? Absolutely. It represents real people who made real contributions to society who were never rewarded for those contributions.”
Spencer correctly notes the fervent madness permeating our culture. Ironically, the same people that would likely hate to see the historically-accurate portrayal of black women in 1960s Mississippi are often the same people who keep shouting that CRT needs to be infused in kindergarten classrooms because it’s important to tell the truth about America’s supposedly sin-filled past. So which one is it?
On the flip side of Spencer’s daring honesty, one of her co-stars on the same film took a lot of heat for bemoaning the actual plot line of the 2012 critical success. Speaking to Vanity Fair, she actually said she felt guilty about her realistic depiction of a black maid in the Deep South.
“Not a lot of narratives are also invested in our humanity. They’re invested in the idea of what it means to be Black, but … it’s catering to the White audience,” Davis said.
“The White audience at the most can sit and get an academic lesson into how we are. Then they leave the movie theater, and they talk about what it meant. They’re not moved by who we were,” she added.
Although most people could care less what spoiled and entitled adult pretenders have to say about the larger world they inhabit, it is nonetheless refreshing to hear a break from the monotonous lecturing on “doing better.”
Marvel’s The Eternals actor Kumail Nanjiani likewise took a similar stance as did Spencer when he sat down for an interview with Esquire UK. During that appearance, Nanjiani lamented the sorry state of modern storytelling, vis-a-vis the refusal to cast non-white actors in the roles of villains.
“I think that Hollywood now — even though they’re trying to be more diverse — is still weird,” he said. By refusing to cast the best person for a particular role, he added, then“good intentions can sometimes lead to misguided solutions: If the bad guy is a brown guy, what message is that sending?”
“And that’s just as limiting as anything else. I want to play more bad guys,” Nanjiani later added:
Referencing fellow MCU actor Stan Sebastain, he noted that the actor was able to transition from a comic book superhero to a legitimate psychopath in The Fresh. “He does these big Marvel movies, and then he’ll play a psychopath,” Nanjiani said. “I was told that’s going to be hard because people don’t want to cast nonwhite people as bad guys.”
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