I saw The Help with Viola Davis and it was great! What on earth was all the criticism about?
Beyond the excellent performances of these actresses was the content of the story itself. These women were in impossible situations and while white and black people both try to glorify the times back then, some people were just as ugly and even worse than what was portrayed in The Help. To address some of the criticism by the Black community, yes there were many strong black women who did not need some white woman "coming to their rescue" and telling their story. There were also many black women who like Abileen, Minnie and Constatine that faced more than just being without work if they spoke out.
My maternal grandmother did housework in the South back in the 60's. She had a good friend, Miriam, that stopped by the her house one day after work. Apparently her boss, Miss Lilly, had some other white friends over and she went out of her way to impress them by talking horribly down to Miriam and talking about how bad the coloreds were to her friends in the presence of Miriam, while she was serving them. When Miss Lilly barked at Miriam to bring lemonade out for her guests....yep, you guessed it...Miriam added "a little extra" to it and enjoyed watching all those white women scoff at her as she served their lemonade and gulp it down like it was the best tasting drink ever.
So even though Miriam's spit in that lemonade was not as bad as what Minnie put in that chocolate cake...those black women back then had similar stories. Miriam had a household to feed and kids to raise and put through school. In the town she lived in, she could not afford to "sass back" at her boss and lose her job. But some of these same women would walk down to the jail in protest of some blacks that were imprisoned without cause. They would all walk down to the jails and pray and go back home. Or they would participate in sit-ins or rallies. Everyone found their own way of getting their story out.
In The Help, this was a portrayal of just one part of the story.