Friday, 21 October 2011

"The Help" in South Africa

Our book club has the read the book and we all loved it - so brilliantly written, but apparently, the film has not been a box office success in South Africa in its first week. I've seen it twice and could easily go again. The story could just as well have been set in the South Africa of the sixties, where every average household had a pool and a live-in maid. Those whose maid didn't live in, closed their eyes and pretended ignorance about what went on in the townships, they ignored the shocking laws of Apartheid, the Pass Laws, and the law that said that blacks had to be back in their townships by sundown. Yet, women have been reluctant to attend the movie which our favourite critic says will sweep the acting awards at the next Oscars. I can understand it.  Any female here over 60 who grew up in South Africa, had a black nanny and a maid in those days, does not wish to have her conscience pricked over the way she treated her own Help. Our young generation of housewives however, pay their maids generously, provide them with smart accommodation and the young professionals even buy houses for their Help and pay for their children to attend expensive private schools.  They are expiating the conscience of their mothers and the film would not resonate with them.  My friends and I grew up maidless in the UK - so we don't have a conscience and these days, we all do our own housework (as maids are expensive!)  Thus we thoroughly enjoyed the film - and the revelation about the "Terrible Awful" brought the house (8 customers that morning) down.

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