I saw the controversial movie The Help a while ago after explicitly explaining to my mother I didn’t want to. She dragged me along anyhow, explaining why she wanted to and every detail of the book. As we sat in the theater she would lean over and whisper “Ooo, pay attention here!” or “look what that mean old bitch is about to do.” Half way through, I wondered why in the hell she wanted to watch a movie she seem to know every bit of. “Now watch, this is when Skeeter finds out that her maid’s daughter is her father’s,” my mother said gleefully. Except…that isn’t what happened. At all. The movie took a sharp right turn from the book of the same name, which it was based upon. In the book the protagonist’s mother fires the maid, Constantine, after realizing her husband had been carrying on an affair with her. In both the book and the movie Constantine’s daughter, Rachel,walks through the front door as proud as her fair skin and green eyes has taught her she should be. For an African American and certainly for African American maids, this was strictly forbidden. In the book, however, Rachel can pass as White and therefore, thinks nothing of it. Still it triggers a realization in Skeeter’s mother that changes everything in the household. Maybe it’s the lighting, maybe it’s Rachel’s demeanor, or maybe it’s the first time she had ever really looked at Rachel but suddenly she sees her husband’s eyes and her maid’s broad nose. It is too much. Once the affair is discovered Constantine leaves immediately and they try never to speak of it again. In the book Skeeter has to deal with realizing her father/daughter Saturday’s often spent at Constantine’s home was his way of covering his affair with the “Negro” maid. It is a first hand account of of America’s dirty secret: miscegenation. But we still aren’t ready to talk about it. In the movie Rachel is cast as decidely African-American and her mother is fired for her odd insolence. Without context, Rachel’s actions seem odd and the firing strange. It creates an odd inconsistency, especially when Skeeter begins to reminisce about her Saturdays at Constantine’s. But worse than how it skews the realistic probablity of the story, is how it flattens the dimensions of the African American women in the story. Stockett, the authour, had dealt with (as much as she could) all sides of the oppression of African-American women in this time period, heavily discriminated against and often mistreated. The women faced rape, beatings, poverty if they dared to refuse the wishes of the men of the homes they cleaned. The movie sanitizes this fact, casting all the women as older, heavy, unattractive. They cast Constantine as the consumate Mammy, happy to serve and more attached to her white family than her children in Chicago. It’s dishonest in it’s rendition of 1960’s Jackson. But it tells a startling truth about America and where we stand, even to this day, under an African American president.