I know I already gutted out my 500 words for today.
Then I opened my email.
The nice thing about email is that it often reminds me of these little tirades I usually have only with myself. The ones I forget by the next time I make it to my desk. How fortunate you must feel that I am here already, and primed for tiradery!
I read The Help last summer and didn’t like it. Yet another book about how a bored white woman exploits the troubles of black women to make a career for herself. If I were a black woman I’d be mighty sick of books and movies implying that I am good for nothing until a nice, open-minded white lady comes to teach at my school or write a book about the struggles of my life. I’d also be mighty sick of those same white people deciding for me that all black men are worthless unless they play a sport and play it very well. Of course I’m not black, so maybe I’m wrong. I can’t speak to that experience first hand and maybe my take on it is patronising too.
What I can speak to is how these stories are marketed to white women like me, sold to us as a “feel good” summer picture. Hey, the WHITE characters do feel good. They make friends with the black women after a fashion and get to make nice little careers and homes for themselves, carved out of the pain of their new “buddies”. (No, I didn’t like that Sandra Bullock movie either. What was that…Oh yeah. _The Blind Side_.) I just am not into those “hey, white people! feel good about yourselves for throwing the occasional black people a bone!” At their core those stories are all based on perpetuating racial divisions.
::sharp noise as I steer this thing back on track::
So there IS a movie of The Help coming out pretty soon here. And that means there is a NEW version of the book. Unlike the book I paid $9.99 for, this one has a commercial for the movie on the front. The four main actresses from the film are aligned across the cover, positioned nicely above the words “Now A Major Motion Picture”. That commercial is going to cost you extra, because now the book that was $9.99 is $10.55.
It’s not new, but it always drives me nuts. That once a book has major advertising in the form of a TV show (Pillars of The Earth, Game Of Thrones) or a movie (The Lincoln Lawyer) the cost of the paperback goes up anywhere from a dollar to three bucks. In a way maybe it’s just us book snobs punishing all the Johnny-Come-Latelys for only being interested if they see the story playacted. But it still really speaks poorly of publishing, in my opinion. In any other industry you pay less when there’s a commercial attached. In books you pay a premium for the priviledge of being advertised upon.