Front Row Nominee
Jessica Chastain was front row at Armani Prive in Paris today - see the collection here - when she learned that she’d received her first Oscar nomination. Can you imagine what a moment that must have been for her? Needless to say, Mr Armani was especially attentive. Perhaps she’s already considering one of his gowns. I ... would advise differently.
Chastain shares her nomination with co-stars Viola Davis, who’s among the Best Actresses, and the favourite in the Best Supporting category, Octavia Spencer. All three are delightful and deserving. But The Help...
We’ve already discussed my thoughts on The Help before. The Help is infuriating to me. Click here if you missed the last conversation. As for its merits as a film, you’ll note that while The Help did receive a nod for Best Picture, it was not included on the list for Best Director or Best Adapted Screenplay or best anything else. And still...because Hollywood wants to keep believing The Help actually happened in real life, so they can feel better about themselves, The Help is their way of congratulating themselves that the film industry really is inclusive - yay us!
There is nothing more terrifying to me than the thought of The Help pulling a Crash and upsetting the other 9 films being considered for Best Picture. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again - honouring it is dangerous, dangerous because it gives us permission to be complacent when what really drives change is discomfort. The fact that The Help COULD NEVER HAVE HAPPENED in the South in that era, and yet has been presented to us as a revisionist interpretation of “what could have been because we’re so enlightened now” attempts to whitewash a past that still informs today’s reality.
Ultimately though, where I think The Help fails is that it offers unfounded absolution instead of actively encouraging the hard questions we must ask ourselves before true progress can be made. The Help is not the end all and be all of the race dilemma. The way it’s been embraced as such is a disservice to those who’ve actually attempted to effect change by clearly and accurately understanding its opponent.
If you haven’t already, I recommend The New York Times’ How Race Is Lived In America. There’s your alternative to The Help.
Pascal Le Segretain/Getty