John Waters should have directed THE HELP
I avoided seeing The Helpfor a few weeks because what looked like a solid picture was dogged by controversy. It’s true that the film has uncomfortable moments, but it’s no more racist than the Coen Brothers film The Ladykillers. It’s certainly less so than Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. But that’s not the problem here. Over and over again while watching this movie it felt like the perfect material for John Waters.
As it stands, The Help feels like a movie John Waters would have made in a shameless Oscar grab. You know, like David Cronenberg’s three most recent pictures. Proper, upper-middle class white people are the villains. An ugly girl, a tacky white lady and a bunch of black people team up to take on those pretty, porcelain southern belles. And there’s a scene where someone eats a pie con feces.
How can that not be a John Waters movie?
Well, first The Help is too earnest. Viola Davis’s Aibileen, the first maid to tell her story to Emma Stone’s Skeeter, is the only one in the film that doesn’t venture into social satire. And the film is mostly from her point of view. Sure, Davis should and likely will get an Oscar nomination for her amazing performance, but she’s too good for the rest of this picture.
In John Waters’s The Help, Aibileen would be played by an unknown black actress and have a better back story, something more outrageous with a touch of satire. Maybe her son must flee Jackson, Mississippi, because of an interracial relationship. And his white girlfriend who stays behind would move in with Aibileen, she would have a multiracial baby, and she would keep house for Aibileen.
Then there’s Emma Stone as Skeeter. She’s supposed to be the ugly southern lady who got an education and a job, which prevents her from being wifey material. Her mom even thinks she’s a lesbian. She’s perfectly cast in The Help because she plays the hot, independent outcast in most of her movies. Still, she’s just not ugly enough for this movie.
In John Waters’s The Help, Skeeter would be played by Rebel Wilson in a full on nod to Hairspray’s Tracy Turnblad. And after her mother asks her if she has “unnatural thoughts,” she would run to her room and masturbate to a picture of some teen idol (maybe a picture of Cry-Baby?).
The children raised by maids are really important in The Help. The film movies along mainly on the idea that Aibileen is a better mother to the white kids than the biological one. When Aibileen is fired and must leave behind a child who loves her, the kid screeches, cries, and pounds on the window, watching Aibileen leave. We never see the child again.
In John Waters’s The Help there would be scene inserted just before the credits where the child appears in blackface, telling the mother that she wanted to look like her real mom. (He can get away with this because the kid is around 3-years-old and doesn’t know any better.)
And of course there are the older women in the movie. They don’t necessarily have full changes of heart, but they realize the monsters they’ve created or the heroes they never intended to.
In John Waters’s The Help, Sissy Spacek’s character, the senile mother of Bryce Dallas Howard’s cartoon racist Hilly, would be played by Mink Stole. And the role of Skeeter’s mother, played here by Allison Janney, could be filled by Traci Lords. Just for kicks.
The poop pie scene the stays intact. It in itself is perfectly in tune with John Waters, right up to Bryce Dallas Howard’s overindulgence (though I would have liked to see more “chocolate” on her teeth and face). Plus, the scene builds into the relationship between the maid Minny and Celia Foote, the tacky white lady who was run out of town. Celia can stay too, along with Jessica Chastain who portrays the character. She was wonderful in the charity event scene, where she gets drunk, tears Hilly’s dress, and vomits next to Hilly’s table. The character and performance are perfect for a Waters movie, but she would vomit directly on Hilly in John Waters’s The Help.