Some thoughts on two adult movies.
I’ll start by appropriating some analysis and a paraphrased warning from Dr. Melissa Harris-Perry. That it would be the easiest thing in the world to assume that a black feminist approaching The Help would be a kill joy. Here are some jewels from her Twitter feed.
reduces systematic, violent racism, sexism & labor exploitation to a cat fight that can be won w/ cunning spunk.
And man oh man was Jim Crow full of giggling good times in the kitchen!! #TheHelpMovie
And thank God plucky white girls could give black women the courage to resist exploitation! #TheHelpMovie
Thank God magical black women were available to teach white women raise their families & to write books!! #TheHelpMovie
Hard to tell whether it’s the representations of black women or of white women that’s most horrible. #TheHelpMovie
I want to pick up on the last tweet. White women should be well and truly horrified by their portrayals in The Help. Not helping.
Crazy, Stupid, Love.
In the New Yorker David Denby argues that,
“Julianne Moore may be too earnest an actress for rigidly structured commercial comedy. She tries to find some hard truths in the role, and she makes Emily angry, vague, and even a little dim. The character is parched and not very likable.”
How can we know that from this movie? Crazy, Stupid, Love. doesn’t care about Julianne Moore or about women in general. Even Emma Stone’s terrific performance is ornamental. The movie’s really and only about male midlife crisis. The women in the film – terrific actors all – are simply props. Given Moore’s underwritten role, how could she be great? Denby, a critic whom I respect, doesn’t even mention Marisa Tomei’s work.
Julianne Moore’s character having an affair isn’t nearly as groundbreaking as the film hopes.
That’s too bad because there’s an interesting movie and fresh comic potential to be mined from the female midlife crisis.
What do we have? Two well intentioned movies with talented actors at the top of their games that still miss it because they reheat the same old stories with stereotypes served over easy.