"The Help" came out in theatres this week and has drawn a significant amount of praise and controversy.Some critics, however think The Help is a step back...
"'The Help' makes Jim Crow palatable. I don't think this is a good thing." Rebecca Wanzo, Associate Professor of Women's Studies at Washington University http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rebecca-wanzo/the-help-movie_b_925550.html
“Certainly this is not the only film where we have seen derogatory images of African- American women, but what is unique about this film is that the aggressive marketing campaign is trying to make this a cultural phenomenon and we wanted to speak to that...The film does not represent the vibrant activism of Black women in the South. These women were active participants; they were not sitting around for a young white woman to give them a voice or a purpose” Tiffany Gill, Associate Professor of History, African and African Diaspora Studies at the University of Texas at Austin Gill said. http://www.bet.com/news/national/2011/08/12/-the-help-hurts-black-women-s-image-say-black-female-historians.html
"The Help's representation of these women is a disappointing resurrection of Mammy -- a mythical stereotype of black women who were compelled, either by slavery or segregation, to serve white families. Portrayed as asexual, loyal, and contented caretakers of whites, the caricature of Mammy allowed mainstream America to ignore the systemic racism that bound black women to back-breaking, low paying jobs where employers routinely exploited them. The popularity of this most recent iteration is troubling because it reveals a contemporary nostalgia for the days when a black woman could only hope to clean the White House rather than reside in it." The Association of Black Women Historians, http://www.abwh.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2%3Aopen-statement-the-help&catid=1%3Alatest-news&Itemid=27
I have not read the book, however I do plan to see the movie this week...I'll let you know what I think. ;)