Sunday, August 28, 2011

What "The Help" Says About America and Obama

Interesting take, though I don't agree with all.

The movie "the Help" has of this writing (Friday, Aug 26, 2011) made approximately $82 million at the box office, against a production budget of only $25 million and a publicity budget quite likely of $30 million. The movie is well on its way to being at least mildly profitable, though nothing like the big-budget winners of say, Iron Man and Iron Man 2 or the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. But still, the movie has been successful. It is worth noting the reasons why the movie (and before it New York Times best-selling novel) has succeeded in what the movie says about America ... and Obama's chances of being re-elected.

Of course, a good deal of the movie's success has to do with counter-programming. It is quite simply the only chick-flick available now. Women like to go to see movies too, and the idea of say, sitting through Cowboys and Aliens or some other action film doesn't appeal to them. In the same way that Jason Statham movies often take advantage of being the only action flick around, this movie benefits from savvy scheduling. The success of the novel, of course is reflective that the bulk of the book-buying public are women. No one would argue that Twilight is a work of great mastery, but women ate up that stuff like crazy. Romance novels from Barbara Cartland on have sold well, and if instead of Fabio on the cover there is the thrill of a hunky, glittery-gay vampire lurking inside the novel, well that's just the market working to serve a hungry readership and audience.

And yes, the "help" even in say, early 1960's Jackson Mississippi was far more likely to be named Frigidaire, or Kitchenmaid, or Hoover, than anything else. Few American housewives had domestic servants of any kind, back then, and even fewer today. Those who do tend to be on the rich side of things. The reality is that Rich and Powerful Black Men employ domestic servants, and these servants tend to be illegal aliens from Mexico. Not downtrodden Black women in the 1960's caring for White babies. The real "help" was automation, and machines, that made domestic life entirely different, in rich countries first and then poor nations. Hans Rosling remembers how in Sweden, his grand-mother cried when she got her first Washing Machine:

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