"We can all go further."

By Maureen Lee Lenker
June 08, 2020 at 04:33 PM EDT
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Bryce Dallas Howard may have starred in The Helpbut she doesn't think you should be watching it as an educational tool right now.

In response to Friday's news that The Help was the most-viewed movie on Netflix in the U.S. last Thursday, Howard posted on social media with a list of other film and television projects she advised audiences engage with instead.

"I've heard that #TheHelp is the most viewed film on @netflix right now! I’m so grateful for the exquisite friendships that came from that film — our bond is something I treasure deeply and will last a lifetime," she wrote. "This being said, 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.⁣"

Howard portrayed Hilly Holbrook in The Help, a racist white Southern socialite living in Jackson, Miss., in the 1960s. The film was based on a novel by Kathryn Stockett, a white woman, and became a movie written and directed by a white man. Additionally, it details a white woman's quest to document the plight of black maids. The actress joins black writers and activists on social media who have criticized The Help's resurgence at this moment of national crisis and urged audiences to seek out other resources as nationwide anti-racism protests continue, demanding justice for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and other black people killed by police.

Howard continued, "Stories are a gateway to radical empathy and the greatest ones are catalysts for action. If you are seeking ways to learn about the Civil Rights Movement, lynchings, segregation, Jim Crow, and all the ways in which those have an impact on us today, here are a handful of powerful, essential, masterful films and shows that center Black lives, stories, creators, and/or performers."

She recommends 13th, Eyes on the Prize, I Am Not Your Negro, Just Mercy, Malcolm X, Say Her Name: The Life and Death of Sandra Bland, Selma, Watchmen, and When They See Us.⁣ Howard also noted that this is far from a comprehensive list and invited others to make suggestions in the comments on her post.

Howard is not the first actor from The Help to point out its flaws. In 2018, star Viola Davis, who was Oscar nominated for her role, critiqued the film, telling The New York Times in 2018 that she regretted taking part in the project. "It wasn’t the voices of the maids that were heard," Davis said at the time. "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."

Several of Howard's recommendations are available for free currently, including Ava DuVernay's film Selma, about Martin Luther King Jr.'s 1965 campaign to secure equal voting rights for black Americans, which is currently available to stream on all digital platforms for free throughout the month of June. Another of her recommendations, Just Mercy.is also available for free across streaming platforms. Streaming service The Criterion Channel has also made films highlighting black lives free to watch, including Daughters of the Dust, the first film directed by an African American woman to be theatrically distributed in the U.S.

To help combat systemic racism, please consider donating to these organizations:

  • Campaign Zero, which is dedicated to ending police brutality in America through research-based strategies.
  • Color of Change, which works to move decision makers in corporations and government to be more responsive to racial disparities.
  • Equal Justice Initiative, which provides legal services to people who have been wrongly convicted, denied a fair trial, or abused in state jails and prisons.

Related content:

The Help

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  • Movie
mpaa
  • PG-13
director
  • Tate Taylor

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