The help is an American drama film that has been directed and written by Tate Taylor. The film is based on the novel ' The help' written by Kathryn Stockett.
The film ' The help' is a film that depicts about how the African- American maids considered their employees. This story depicts how they encouraged or empowered a white young woman to create a best seller about them and how it transformed the mother of the young author.
The two maids finally joined the book project and helped her to publish the condition of the African American maid. This paper helps to identify the Socio-cultural, environmental context of the film. It also focused on the family values and the dynamics of the involved families. It also focuses on the level of the functional competency of the family.
Description of Movie Family
The film featured three major narrators- Aibileen, Skeeter and Minny. Aibileen is an African-American woman working in a white family, The Leefolts. Mae Mobley is two years old and is considered as ' special baby’ by Aibileen. Aibileen's son Treelore had died in a workplace hazard few months before Aibileen had joined under the Leefolts. Eugenia Skeeter Phelan and Hilly Jackson are Elizabeth's two best friends. Minny Jackson, who is of 36 years old is Aibileen's best friend, and is the caregiver of Hilly's mother, Miss Walter.
Assessment of Culture and Ethnic Traits
From the plot it can be said that the film was successful in narrating the racism suffered by the Africa American people at that time. History says that black maids have been humiliated and have experienced violence in the hands of their white employers. The film reveals the fact that Hilly and her socialite Elizabeth Leefolt had a sense of resentment against the black maids like any other women belonging to that social class of the contemporary era. It can also be identified that every white people do not bear the same mentality as Hilly and Elizabeth Leefolt. The predominance of the racism concept at that time is evident from the fact that Skeeter's mother once fired her childhood maid Constantine without any solid reasons. At the contemporary period, to be an African –American was quite a big reason to be abused, humiliated and tortured (Stockett, 2016). The film shows values of the different families showed in this film. On one side it portrays that Elizabeth Leefolt is a rich woman and can go beyond any limit to maintain her social status. Mrs. Leefolt doesn’t even hesitate to neglect and physically abuse her own child Mae Mobley, who was just two years old. On the other hand one can see Aibileen who takes care of Mobley just as her own child. It seems that Aibileen wanted to compensate the loss of her own child Treelore by loving Mae Mobley. At that time most of the rich ladies used to keep their children under the custody of maids and governesses such that they could invest their time in maintaining the social position and Mrs. Leefolt was in no way different from that. Simultaneously it can also been seen that Hilly's replacement maid Yule May, pawned a discarded ring of Hilly just to get her twin sons to high schools. These incidents gave a clear indication about the differences of perception towards their children. At that time people belonging to the higher strata of the social hierarchy never considered the African- American maids as human beings and considered them as impure, impure enough to deter them from using the same bathroom (Stockett, 2016).
Minny was not able to hold her job because of her sass mouth for Mrs Walter, but eventually found a job as a maid in the house of Celia Foote. The tolerance level of Minny Jackson reached to the brim and she ended up making a plan for murdering Hilly by poisoning her chocolate pie. The book based on which the movie has been made provided a strong base for the oppressed black maids to stand up for themselves and bring the issues under the limelight. It also helped them to get a legal base such that they can get access to legal help as and when needed.
Assessment of Development or Functional Competency
The film beautifully depicts the way how Aibileen took care of the chubby wild child Mae Mobley, as Elizabeth hardly had any time to look at her. The film reveals the fact that Aibileen always helped out Mae Mobley to boost up her self esteem. She also tried to imbibe the concept of racial equality and civil rights in the young mind. It has to be remembered that Family is a group of persons that are tied by blood, marriage or adoption and involves only a single household. Attitude of one member of the family would certainly affect the other (Friedman, Bowden & Jones, 2009). Hence Elizabeth’s inclination towards racism would certainly affect the young mind her child. As a maid Aibileen not only took care of the daily chores but also tried to teach the child how to develop interpersonally. Family nursing involves the relationships among the family and the care givers. Aibileen tried her best to manipulate the environment and for increasing the likelihood of interaction between Elizabeth and her child. Family style and the family competence are the two major styles of the Beavers Systems Model of Family Functioning. According to the Beavers model the horizontal axis can be considered as the family competence, which depends upon the adaptive system of the flexibility (Beavers & Hampson, 2000). Elizabeth's family belonged to the class of borderline families where each one was suffering from the chaotic overt power. The family can also be considered as a severely dysfunctional family where the child is neglected by her mother.
The film is an excellent manifestation of racism and functional competency of a family. The story proceeds in the way that Skeeter is quite uncomfortable with the racist attitude that her socialite friend Hilly shows towards her maids. The negligence of Elizabeth towards her child and her family life makes it a severely dysfunctional family. In spite of all the oppressions Aibileen tried her best to provide a good life to Mae Mobley and requested Elizabeth to give her that chance. In a word Aibileen tried to convert the family into an optimal and balanced family.
Beavers, R., & Hampson, R. B. (2000). The Beavers systems model of family functioning. Journal of Family Therapy, 22(2), 128-143.
Friedman, M., Bowden, V., & Jones, E. (2009). Family nursing. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall.
Stockett, K. (2016). Help. [Place of publication not identified]: Penguin Books.