In the midst of ongoing protests against police brutality and systemic racism in America, tons of people are seeking out resources to better educate themselves on the country's history of racial injustice. Unfortunately, some of those resources are not as helpful as others. Several movie fans pointed out how cringe-inducing it was to see The Help become Netflix's most-watched movie at the same time as the protests, and one of the film's stars also spoke out on the subject. Bryce Dallas Howard's reaction to The Help trending on Netflix echoes the critiques of the movie whitewashing a story of injustice against Black communities.
Over the weekend, Netflix users noticed The Help was listed as the top-streamed movie on the service, and Twitter quickly erupted in a firestorm of tweets about why the film was particularly problematic to watch at the current moment. The 2011 movie, based on the 2009 novel of the same name, tells the fictional story of a group of white socialites in 1960s Mississippi and their Black domestic workers. Since its release, The Help has been accused of employing a white savior narrative by centering the story on the white socialites trying to understand the plight of their workers. Most notably, the Association of Black Women Historians released a statement arguing the film "distorts, ignores, and trivializes the experiences of black domestic workers."
Viola Davis, who was nominated for an Oscar for her role as Aibileen in The Help, has also spoken up about about the movie's flaws, admitting she regretted starring in the film during a 2018 New York Times profile: "I just felt that at the end of the day that it wasn’t the voices of the maids that were heard. I know Aibileen. I know Minny. 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."
Obviously, Bryce Dallas Howard has heard these criticisms and helped educate her fans about why The Help is far from the best film to watch to learn about racial injustice in America. Howard — who played the socialite Hilly in The Help, the movie's most obvious villain who is exceptionally cruel to her Black maids — took to Instagram on June 7 to implore her fans to watch works by Black creators. Her caption read, in part: "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."
As Howard pointed out, The Help was written and directed by Tate Taylor, a white man, and the novel it was based on was written by Kathryn Stockett, a white woman.
Howard offered up her own list of movies and shows people can watch instead of The Help, including Ava DuVernay's Netflix documentary 13th, Spike Lee's biographical drama Malcolm X, and the Regina King-led HBO series Watchmen. Two of Howard's recommended movies — Selma and Just Mercy — have been made free to rent for the month of June. For even more suggestions, you can check out Elite Daily's list of recommendations for movies about systemic racism in the U.S.