Viola Davis says she feels that she betrayed herself by playing Aibileen in The Help. In a new profile in Vanity Fair, Davis says the film was focused on catering to a white audience.
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“Not a lot of narratives are also invested in our humanity,” says Davis. “They’re invested in the idea of what it means to be Black, but…it’s catering to the white audience. The white audience at the most can sit and get an academic lesson into how we are. Then they leave the movie theater and they talk about what it meant. They’re not moved by who we were.”
Critics argue The Help embraces the cliche “white savior” trope. The writing technique refers to a white person who provides help to non-white people in a self-serving manner and has been done time and time again in the cinema.
“There’s no one who’s not entertained by The Help. But there’s a part of me that feels like I betrayed myself, and my people, because I was in a movie that wasn’t ready to [tell the whole truth],” Davis says.
She argues The Help was “created in the filter and the cesspool of systemic racism.”