Discussing
Loving one’s enemy in ‘The Help’

Josh Larsen

LaShawn B
September 2, 2011

Excellent, excellent, excellent post. This is exactly what I was thinking as I watched the movie. Although it is quite different from the book, I was so moved...actually to tears for probably half of the film. I couldn't even really laugh at the 'funny' scenes because I was a) reminded of such hatred - such a dichotomy for me in this 'new millennium' and 'post-racial' society and, yet, b) inspired by the utter compassion of the "Aibleens" that came before me. It was a true pinch in the arm to imagine my own great-grandmother and her mother (and so on) in that last scene...one of redemption and an exercise in their faith in the Lord. So moving. Thank you for pointing this out to the body of Christ at large. We can learn quite a bit about "The Way" through this example.

Wweber
September 2, 2011

I thought after about how the girls would grow up with these loving nannies and became their bosses and how awkward that must be, no matter what the race. That seemed to me an important lesson on how to treat your fellow man that was perhaps a little too glossed over for the more obvious lessons of the movie, although it certainly came out in Skeeter's story. I hope it is dealt with a little more deeply in the book, which I have not read yet, but I look forward to reading. <br>I read a few reviews which chose to focus on individual lines of dialogue or anything the critic could find to miss the point. I feel sad for the people who want to rush to say this is a white person telling black womens' stories. This particular story is what it is. Read another book or see another movie if you want to see something else, but don't tear down this one for being what it is.<br>

Rickd
September 2, 2011

I experienced the blessings of loving my enemy 15 years ago. I had an employee who falsified his time and billing records, wooed my clients privately, took credit for work he did not do and set up a competing office on the side. He managed to take one of our largest clients setting the stage for our eventual business failure. Several years later I saw him in an airport in another city waiting for my same flight. The Holy Spirit prompted me to approach him without malice and shake his hand. He was startled and we chit chatted about busines for a few minutes before parting. I felt any malice I had drain from me, I was able to forgive him and I truly wish he experiences God’s mercy and salvation just as I have.<br><br>I think this is the correct application of Jesus command to love your enemies. It is not about setting national policy for military defense, coming to the aid of treaty countries, or just war theories. It is talking about personal enemies. In Exodus 20:13 God (Jesus/the trinity) commands the Israelites, “Thou shalt not kill”. 21 verses later God begins listing the crimes that were to be punished by death. 3 Chapters later He (Jesus/the trinity) gives the command to kill the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hivites, and Jebusites. Correct interpretation and application of scripture requires context and intent.<br>

Obiwen
September 2, 2011

I thought after about how the girls would grow up with these loving nannies and became their bosses and how awkward that must be, no matter what the race. That seemed to me an important lesson on how to treat your fellow man that was perhaps a little too glossed over for the more obvious lessons of the movie, although it certainly came out in Skeeter's story. I hope it is dealt with a little more deeply in the book, which I have not read yet, but I look forward to reading. I read a few reviews which chose to focus on individual lines of dialogue or anything the critic could find to miss the point. I feel sad for the people who want to rush to say this is a white person telling black womens' stories. This particular story is what it is. Read another book or see another movie if you want to see something else, but don't tear down this one for being what it is.

Guest
September 2, 2011

I love your post today Josh. It almost doesn't need any feedback but I'll stick my 2 cents in anyway. <br><br>I think a lot of people use the word "enemy" too loosely, what with video games and sci-fi movies making enemies of everyone who isn't your best friend. Wiktionary defines enemy as : "Someone who is hostile to, feels hatred towards, opposes the interests of, or intends injury to someone else."<br><br>I think we often apply the label of "enemy" to someone who could care less about us because they are the kind of people who move on and then we are the ones bearing the weight of the hostility and hatred. Hatred opposes the interests of a christian heart and holds joy and Christ out. Hate is a heavy tangible thing and as the woman in the movie alludes to, it makes you tired. Love is the only antidote to hate. Love accepts that the real enemy is often probably more in need of God's love and forgiveness than we are. The stale enemy in our minds is a memory of past wrongs and entirely at our control to banish with God's help and maybe some therapy.<br><br>I love the movie "Amazing Grace". There is an amazing scene where the former slave reveals his brand and says they mark you to remind you that you belong to man and not to God. Hate is like that. When you hate an enemy you take something of yourself that should belong to God and you give it to someone who doesn't deserve it. At first it feels like they took it from me. Eventually I realized I was giving it away and had to take that back. <br><br><a href="http://vevo.ly/ekJcES" rel="nofollow">http://vevo.ly/ekJcES</a><br><br>Damage to my body is nothing compared to the damage of allowing hate to fester in my soul. Love doesn't mean I have to have tea with someone who hurt me. I means I need to choose to actively oppose hate. <br><br>Hate is a choice. I see that now.<br>

StrngeFruit
September 4, 2011

The problem is that millions of movie goers WONT see any other movie about race this year. It is THIS one that as being hail as the 'feel good racial movie of the year,' when so many others can barely get any momentum and publicity. So that makes the stakes higher and the missteps more frustrating.

StrngeFruit
September 4, 2011

The fact that Hilly is characterized as such as the blatant enemy is a source of frustration for me. Scapegoating her as an evil-racist is such a dangerous, yet common, practice in white racial literature. We (white folk) are allowed to distance ourselves from her clearly-inappropriate 'racist' views. Thus, we are free to identify with the white-savior heroine, congratulating ourselves that we would never be so obviously racist.<br><br>These sentiments play into white folks' tendencies to associate the word 'racist' with people that blatantly espouse hatred, rather than examine the nuances of systemic racial advantage and subconscious bias. Similarly, setting the book in the 1960's, invites a congratulatory look on how far we have come, rather examining the modern consequences of that era. As long as we're not that bad, we must be alright (read: "I'm basically a good person, I'm not a sinner"). Macon D of 'Stuff White People Do' notes: "While The Help is about people who risk their lives to challenge the status quo of their day, the book itself does very little to challenge the status quo of its own day." The fact is, the attitudes articulated in the book are still alive and well today, if more hushed.

Josh Larsen
TC Staff
September 4, 2011

I agree that some audiences will unfortunately react to The Help in this way ("See how bad those racists were back then. I'm so glad I'm better than them.") In fact, if it wins a Best Picture Oscar, it will be because of this sentiment. Hollywood is nothing if not self-congratulatory come Oscar time.<br><br>That being said, I also feel you're criticizing the movie for not being something it never even meant to be. The Help is a feel-good period piece, not a fire-starting contemporary racial drama, as Do the Right Thing was in 1989. So to demand that it serve the same purposes isn't fair. Of course, because Do the Right Thing's purpose was more noble (to challenge its audiences by exposing the racism of its time) and because it accomplished that purpose with startling artistry, it has come to be considered a contemporary classic. As much as I enjoyed The Help, I have a feeling its place in film history will be somewhere near that of Driving Miss Daisy, if it's lucky.

StrngeFruit
September 4, 2011

A 'feel good movie' about a subject that in reality just not feel good, to me is exploitative. But ok...if we are taking The Help as merely entertainment why does it merit a blog discussion at all? Can't have it both ways. If we're going to discuss it on an academic level, then lets do so. If its just entertainment, then it shouldn't receive so much laudation and hype for it's "innovation."

Josh Larsen
TC Staff
September 4, 2011

Feel-good movies aren’t always “merely entertainment.” Certainly The Help is more than that. The movie made me feel good about something very deep and powerful: the way Aibileen met the hatefulness of racism with the reconciliatory love of the Sermon on the Mount. I can take her example as inspiration, while still recognizing that racism in the United States is hardly a problem of the past.<br><br>Of course, I’m not denying that manipulative, dishonest “feel-good” movies exist. That’s pretty much what I wrote about previously for ThinkChristian in regards to The Blind Side: <a href="http://bit.ly/oNPGzg" rel="nofollow">http://bit.ly/oNPGzg</a>

StrngeFruit
September 4, 2011

Yeah, I tend to think we are too quick to jump to the feel good of reconciliation, and skip right over the injustice part. That doesn't feel as good. It's nice you can feel good about that saintly act, but it wasn't a feel good time, and most folk that lived it don't have feel good memories. So when folks come away from this movie feeling all uplifted, it just rubs wrong. <br><br><br>I think we could indeed take that moment in the film as allegory of how we aught to act. It is good to have fables for this reason. I don't know if it justifies the rest though.

Jay
September 7, 2011

How far have we really come thought? We still see horrible images of President Obama on protest signs that point to his race.Muslim Americans live in fear of reprisals 10 years later.Innocent people fleeing a war fueled by North Americas appetite for illegal drugs,face starvation,deportation,racism and death to escape Mexico.<br>Will "The Help" go down in history with other great movies like Sounder,The Colour Purple.....maybe even Lady Sings the Blues...only time will tell.<br>After seeing "The Help",it has my mind mulling over the entire experience.<br>That is a good sign.Like a great painting or meaningful photograph,you can't just put it away and forget about it.It sticks with you.

SiarlysJenkins
September 16, 2011

That's funny, I was thinking about "Driving Miss Daisy" also as I left the movie. But I thought "The Help" was much better done. Hollywood is not good at doing movies about race realistically. The movies are either vicious, or sugar-coated. I have a feeling Morgan Freeman HATED some of his trite lines in "Driving Miss Daisy" and rightly so. (I only watched it because I had a passenger on my bus route who was known as "Miss Daisy." It made me feel like a movie star to have her as a passenger). "The Help" was more realistic about how the maids would feel about the "white" journalist, about the hazards of the project for them, why they would not immediately welcome the project, and why they eventually decided it was worth it. The script at least touched on the responsibility of the journalist, after putting all these vulnerable women on the line, going off to New York to take a job a assistant editor. And while Hilly was an evil villain from central casting, the nuances of the journalist's mother, who was capable of doing equal harm, although she wasn't "so bad," and also capable of taking a good hard look at herself, adds another dimension, one more applicable to "what are we like today?"

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