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Friday, March 15, 2013

MOVIE NIGHTS - ‘The Help:’ History that remains relevant is set in context

By Kean Spivey

On Feb. 7, UNC Pembroke’s History Department hosted its second movie night in the spring 2013 semester with the contemporary film “The Help.”
The HelpThe movie night was attended by approximately 20 people and was moderated by Dr. Jeff Frederick, assistant professor of history at UNCP.

“I am moderating this film because my field of expertise and most of my publications are in Southern history,” Dr. Frederick said. “My job is to place the film in a broader context.”

“The Help”is a 2011 film adaptation of a novel, which bears the same name. It stars Emma Stone, Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Bryce Dallas Howard and Sissy Spacek.

“The Help”takes place Jackson, Miss., set in the early 1960s during the heat of the civil rights movement. The main character, Eugenia Phelan, who people refer to as Skeeter, is a young journalist who befriends two black maids.

Skeeter soon discovers that she wants to put her journalistic skills to the test by writing about the perspective of black maids working for white families in a book she pens anonymously titled “The Help.”

In February 2012, “The Help”was nominated for four Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Actress and had two nominations for Best Supporting Actress, which was won by Viola Davis.

“’The Help’was chosen because it identifies many significant issues relevant to southerners,” Dr. Frederick said. “These are issues of race and gender, continuity and change and issues suggesting how ordinary people reacted to the contentious and meaningful era of civil rights activism.”

Dr. Frederick noted that historical films do not always give the most accurate depictions of what it was like during the times they are set in, but that is why it is important to incorporate the history movie nights into campus life.

“The movies are not necessarily 100 percent accurate from an historical perspective; rather they illuminate issues that historians can further clarify,” Dr. Frederick said.

“These films allow students to interact with their peers as well as intellectuals who can help them develop critical thinking and analysis skills, the type of skills that all employers are looking for in the real world,” Dr. Frederick said. “A university facilitates teaching and learning across multiple platforms, both within and outside of specific classrooms.

“Students should come because the discussion and reflection such activities inspire are valuable commodities in a 21st century society predicated on the ability to contextualize information for problem solving purposes,” he concluded.

One film remains in the History Department’s movie nights:

  • April 11: “One, Two, Three” (1961), 6-8 p.m., Dr. Charles Beem; a Billy Wilder farcical comedy set in Cold War era West Berlin

For more information about Movie Nights and other History Department news, join them on Facebook:

Kean Spivey is a senior mass communication major.

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