Looking for ways to advocate for Black lives? Check out this list of resources by our sister site Lifehacker for ways to get involved.
If you’ve taken a gander at Netflix over the past few days (lol of course you have), you may have noticed that The Help has made its way into the platform’s top 10 most popular titles. Yes, the movie in which Octavia Spencer feeds Bryce Dallas Howard a pie filled with actual shit (coincidentally the only scene in the movie that’s worth a shit), has become one of the most-viewed titles on Netflix in the wake of ongoing nationwide protests in support of Black Lives Matter—which unfortunately makes sense, given that The Help is one of those movies about racial injustice created by and for white people, not unlike Green Book or Driving Miss Daisy. It’s incredibly important for white people to educate ourselves about systemic racism, but a fictional narrative film made by white people and told from the perspective of a white character is neither enlightening nor particularly instructive.
Bryce Dallas Howard herself agrees that The Help is probably (definitely) not the best movie about racism you could be watching right now, and in a post shared on her official Facebook page, the actress and filmmaker offered a list of films and television series you can (and should) watch instead. Howard acknowledges that her list is far from comprehensive, but it’s a solid starting point and includes Ava DuVernay’s 13th (available on Netflix and currently streaming for free on YouTube) and Raoul Peck’s I Am Not Your Negro:
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. 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.
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:
Eyes on the Prize
I am Not Your Negro
Say Her Name: The Life And Death Of Sandra Bland
When They See Us
Howard also asked readers to leave their own suggestions in the comments, and while several of them made a point to praise The Help or suggest Green Book, others pointed to the writing of James Baldwin and suggested watching Steve McQueen’s 12 Years A Slave and If Beale Street Could Talk. (Someone even had the nards to mention Lars Von Trier’s Manderlay, which... wow.)