As the mom of an almost teenage daughter, it’s easy for me to get caught up in doling out life lessons whenever and wherever I find an occasion. You can imagine how well that goes over. Maybe you’ve even been there yourselves. Usually I evoke a response somewhere along the lines of: “Tell me something I don’t know, Mom!” or “My shoes hurt.”
I can talk to my daughter about racial relations and try to describe what it was like for us Wanderboomers to live through the ’60s (at least the parts I can recall). Or, I can show her a snapshot, by taking her to see The Help, a movie based on Kathryn Stockett‘s vivid portrayal of the relationships between white women and their black maids in the South in the ’60s.
The movie is rated PG-13, due to language, and scenes of a miscarriage and physical abuse, though the latter is portrayed off-camera. More importantly, the movie captures a tumultuous time in our nation’s history when we were forced to confront the need for social change, resulting in the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
As we watched the film together, I realized I was almost the same age then as my daughter is now. And I had been as removed from the actual real-life events as my daughter was observing them unfold on the screen. I didn’t grow up in the South. I didn’t know anyone personally who was treated less than human because of their skin color. That doesn’t mean it didn’t happen where I grew up, simply that as a child, I wasn’t aware of it in my small, rural community. But even in my remote location in Upstate New York, we learned about civil unrest brewing elsewhere from the images that flooded the TV news.
As in any art worth its weight, there are scenes in The Help that made me squirm, laugh and weep. The book and the film are not without controversy. But if you’re looking for a film to share with your mature teenager, that shows some of what the 60’s were about, then consider going together to see The Help. It just might spark a thoughtful conversation – whenever your teenager starts talking to you again.
What are your thoughts on the film and/or book The Help, Wanderboomers?