Help author sued for jacking the life story of her brother’s maid

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Full disclosure: I read half of The Help and it bugged me so I put it down. It just seemed hackneyed to me, with the maids all speaking in slang dialect and the white women speaking in a perfectly normal way that didn’t even have a southern twang. Plus the plot bothered me. I’m white, which makes me feel unqualified to judge whether it was racist (which I suspected), but it started to drag in the middle and I put it down.

So I haven’t finished the book, and I’ve never seen the movie, but I felt a little twinge of smugness when I read that the author, Kathryn Stockett, is getting sued. Apparently the lead character in The Help, Aibileen, shares an incredible amount of commonalities with a maid and nanny who worked for the author’s brother for over 12 years, Abilene Cooper. I’m going to include some details from this article in The Daily Mail about the lawsuit, because it lays out the details well. The Mail gets it wrong, though, by claiming the suit is ongoing. This lawsuit for just $75,000 in damages was dismissed in mid August for being filed after the “statute of limitations for misappropriation claims.” It sounds like Cooper had a decent claim against Stockett, though. Here’s more:

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When Abilene Cooper picked up her copy, however, her reaction was rather different. Instead of sympathy for the characters of The Help, there was anger and devastation.

As she turned the pages she came to believe that the story at the heart of the book – an unlikely friendship between a white girl and a black maid – was her own. Her life, she believes, has been stolen, without acknowledgment or payment.
Certainly the name is hers, although in the book the heroine is spelt Aibileen. The city, Jackson, Mississippi, is correct, and like the characters in The Help, she has spent much of her life working in white households.

Intriguingly, these include the household of Kathryn Stockett’s brother and sister-in-law, where she has been a maid and nanny for 12 years.

Abilene says: ‘When I started to read the book, I said, ‘‘This is the closest thing to my life I ever seen. It’s gotta be me.’’
‘Kathryn spelt my name wrong, but they pronounce it exactly the same way in the book and the film. I introduced myself to Kathryn when I first met her at her brother’s house that way: ‘‘Aib-e-leen”.

Kathryn has Aibileen teaching the white folks’ baby girl to call her ‘‘Aib-ee”. That’s what I taught Kathryn’s niece and nephew to call me because they couldn’t manage Abilene.

‘I just cried and cried after I read the first few pages. In the book, Aibileen has taken her job five months after her son is killed in an accident. My son, Willie, had leukaemia and died when he was 18, in July 1998, three months before I went to work for the Stocketts.

‘I felt the emotions in my heart all over again. Kathryn copied parts of my life and used them without even asking me.’
In the book, Aibileen is a deeply religious woman who sports a gold tooth and a gold cross, as does the real-life Abilene.
Both women cope with the stifling heat of the Mississippi summer by wearing wigs when their own hair goes limp in the humid air.

Both devote a lifetime to bringing up the babies of ‘white folks’: the fictional Aibileen has raised 17 children while Abilene estimates her total to be 18 or 19.

The novel is set in the early Sixties and Aibileen hears that black civil rights leader Medgar Evers has been assassinated by the Ku Klux Klan in her home town, Jackson. The heroine is dizzy with fear and the passage has an eerie similarity to Abilene’s own memories of the murder.

She, too, remembers how Evers’s death brought the city to the brink of civil war. When Abilene, then 12, heard the news from her grandmother that day in 1963, she was terrified: ‘My grandmomma September 4, 2011 From Sharon Churcher in Jackson, Mississippi told us all we had to protect us was God and prayer,’ she says. ‘There weren’t no coloured policemen.’
The killing was one of the most significant moments in the long, hard battle for civil rights in the Deep South.

A careworn, heavyset woman who has been working as a maid for white families in Jackson since she was 13, Abilene says: ‘My brothers were involved in the civil rights protests and my daddy feared for our lives and my momma walked around praying.

The Help compares Aibileen’s skin colour to a cockroach: ‘He black,’ Abilene says of the insect, ‘blacker than me. How can Kathryn live with herself after writing that? How can a person be that cruel?

‘I think she is just a racist. She claims she respects black people but she just ran all over me.’

[From The Daily Mail]

Again, this lawsuit isn’t going anywhere. Stockett sent Cooper a note in 2009 telling her the character in the book wasn’t based on her despite the obvious name similarities. Cooper didn’t get around to reading the book until over a year later, and since the suit wasn’t filed until 2011, after the one year statute of limitations, it was thrown out. I follow celebrity news closely (well only the most superficial and trashy of it, but still) and I didn’t hear anything about this lawsuit when it was dismissed nearly a month ago.

The Help continues to dominate the box office. It was number 1 over this holiday weekend for the third weekend in a row, bringing its domestic box office total to $118.6 million. E! Online asks if it’s the Avatar of chick flicks. (Here’s an article that discusses how it got made. Apparently Stockett was childhood friends with the guy who ended up directing it, actor/director Tate Taylor.)

As for this lawsuit, I’m surprised that Stockett didn’t offer some kind of settlement. She may have based Aibileen on another maid she knew who passed away, (as she claims) but the biographical similarities to the real Abilene are striking. To me, it just goes to show what a derivative book it is, but I know a lot of people enjoyed it and obviously the movie as well.

Kathryn Stockett is shown at the premiere of The Help on 8/9/11 and at The Deauville Film Festival with The Help director Tate Taylor on 9/3/11. Credit: WENN.com

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Stockett and her daughter from a previous relationship.
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This last picture is priceless.
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82 Responses to “Help author sued for jacking the life story of her brother’s maid”

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  1. Eve says:

    I thought that dude was Dean Cain. And yes, that last picture of them is priceless (he’s obviously happy to be there).

  2. BeckyR says:

    Haven’t read the book nor have I seen the movie. If this story is true the author is disgusting. If true, she should make some gesture of financial compensation to this lady for providing material for her book.

  3. Jen says:

    I actually know a lot of black people who speak in the same slang as in the book. I’m not sure why everyone seems to think it’s so far-fetched.

  4. Marianne says:

    Why is she just getting sued though? To me, it seems like somebody has now just noticed the amount of success the film has made and wants a piece of the pie.

  5. lisa says:

    Wow

    I saw the Help and liked it. I guess that makes me bad.

    But if this is true, I think the author should do something. I know writers use their personal experiences and accounts to write.. that is what you are always told. Write about what you know.

    But if she did this then it is sad not to recognize the woman that inspired one of your characters. It would not have been hard to do and would have be respectful. The woman may have found it a tribute of sorts.

  6. locamochagirl says:

    I think this complaint is a little ridiculous. It’s FICTION. An author gets to take liberties with fiction, and how many times are fictional books based on the elements of the author’s life? I hate to be a cynic here, but really. I hate how everything in this country boils down to racism. We’re told that if the white majority isn’t being aware of the differences and recognizing them, they’re racist. If they DO recognize the differences, they’re racist.

    Were Stockett and the movie producers supposed to re-write history and cover up the fact that there WAS racism? If they took that out, wouldn’t black groups say that it was a fictionalized account that stereotype and didn’t show the way things really were? I just feel like you’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t with race in this country.

  7. kiki says:

    I read about this lawsuit over 6 months ago in Entertainment Weekly.

  8. Sakyiwaa says:

    @Marianne. Took the words right outta my mouth… Cos it’s still hanging open.

  9. mln76 says:

    I also haven’t read te book but the similarities sound blatant. A good writer would try to disguise any similarities change a name or something this just confirms that this lady is a hack.

  10. Sakyiwaa says:

    Though as the ‘Avatar of chick flicks’, Stockett should afford to give off 75,000 to pacify. The similarities are too striking.

    The controversy alone is gonna drive up the film and book’s market.

  11. Marianne says:

    Ignore my above post. I didn’t read the full article.

  12. Call Me Al says:

    This book was horrible, racist, and boring. Much like the South of rich white people (I live here too and am middle class white). But she’s just writing what she knows, and that’s all you can do.

  13. Lee says:

    I too read the book a few years back before it was “discovered” and was quite underwhelmed. It was a bit of a slog to get to the end.

    As far as this lawsuit goes, I’m not aware of the rules when an “author” creates “fiction” based on the real life of a private individual. Whether it’s legal or not, there is an ick factor here, especially since the author used the life of someone who will never see one penny of profit from the use of her own story. Kind of continuing the exploitation theme, no?

  14. beanie says:

    She is a racist hack who stole someone’s life and put it out there without permission. i surely would not stand for that.
    I hope that maid sues her for damages like pain and suffering.

  15. the original bellaluna says:

    The very least the author could have done is give credit where credit is due.

  16. The Original Ashley says:

    Didn’t have a desire to see this film, and after reading this I definitely don’t plan on seeing it. Sounds like exploitation to me.

  17. Lindsey G. says:

    Can we please learn to differentiate between slang and dialect/vernacular, please?

    These maids are not speaking in slang (which would be closer to terminology or idioms, etc.), but in a vernacular that is specific to Mississippi, probably more specifically Jackson, and a dialect that is/was common among working class blacks.

    But it is NOT slang.

  18. coucou says:

    She’s a BIYATCH and i hope she is revealed and punished for her hacking treachory!

  19. jack says:

    OMG, Thanks to the republican super rich crooks, who put their fascist judges in our supreme court, you now only have one year to file a law suit! they just won , thanks to the 5 to 4 party line vote , a vote to stop all class action lawsuits against corp.s. like a single person could win against their billions. and rethugs answer to the health ins. thugs was tort reform? to limit the amt. you can win in court if a corp. kills or harms you? fascism has come to america and they are very organized and very rich. fox news shouldn’t even be allowed to lie daily on our public airways. that would never have been allowed before bushco.

  20. Ruby Red Lips says:

    Coincidentally, I have just started reading this book as someone bought it as a gift. So far I have enjoyed reading it…

    However, I do believe that the author has ‘stolen’ this woman’s life and therefore should at the very least be acknowledged as the person the book is based on. I mean the author is hardly likely to have written the book w/o any real life experience so she can and should not ignore this woman…very poor form on authors part

  21. Dena says:

    Lee, Beanie, and Bella Luna–I totally agree. There is an ick and sleaze factor here. The author totally appropriated the life of someone for her own gain. To do that, even to someone of a similar racial or ethnic background, is opportunistic and low. However, what makes this one even lower is that it contains the awful historical and tragic markers of both race and class exploitation for personal gain. It’s really disgusting.

  22. jc126 says:

    Regarding a cockroach: “He blacker than me”!! OMG! That is just awful, seriously.
    I didn’t read the book because it looked corny, and I had no time for fiction anyway. I don’t see corny movies, either. However, I was struck by how certain older, generally backwards people “loved” the movie, people who usually never have a nice thing to say about any contemporary black people, so I suspected that it was racist in some way and probably had a paternalistic tone. Sometimes I judge a thing by the fans.

  23. Ashley says:

    CB, you should read the NYTimes article about it, where Stockett’s father says he too thinks she ripped off Aibileen for a buck and that her brother won’t speak to her. It really speaks volumes (As if the book, and the completely different writing style when writing “black” didn’t already) about a pretentious bitch she really is. The last line her father leaves them with really says it all.

  24. RMac says:

    Authors use things from their own life in order to tell a story. Authors are also protected by law from money hungry people. All fiction books have a disclaimer at the beginning: This is a work of fiction. All characters, organizations, and events, etc etc are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictionally. This is why the Junior League, or others, can’t sue the author for portraying their likeness since it is a work of FICTION.

    I’d also like to reiterate I’m from the South and I hate to break it to you Celebitchy, but people still talk like this. Black, white, whatever, dialects still exist. Creole and Gullah are two perfect examples of pidgin that are now regional dialects. And yes, there are still black (and white!) people in the South who do not speak standard English. In 1960′s Mississippi (and the rest of the South), dialect distinguished those who were educated and not educated. The book does an excellent job of this. Dialect and accents aren’t the same. We all have southern accents, but depending on what region you’re in, the dialects vary.

    Finally, even though the characters in this book were a work of fiction, the events were pretty true to life. Racism did happen and still happens. Southerns did employ black people as the help. We did not treat them well and committed terrible crimes towards them. It’s not right, but it happened.

  25. Juliesunflower says:

    @belle: Are black people beholden to anybody to be painted in any type of light ; whether good or bad? Going to the topic at hand, any work of fiction usually states on the overleaf that it is a work of fiction which bears no similarity to actual people or places etc.

  26. Statler says:

    So then by implication, the author likely sees herself as the Great White Savior main character (who, by writing a book, ‘really makes a difference’ and ‘changes peoples’ lives’). Can we officially start mocking her now?

  27. Dani says:

    Something about this movie …and book seems off. Is it now okay to make light of slavery?…(the pittance the “help” were paid doesn’t count) I don’t think so.

  28. Celebitchy says:

    @Lindsey – I described it wrong by calling it slang. I’ll update that term.

  29. Seal Time 6 says:

    @Jen

    Because all of the Blacks speak in GWTWesque dialect (aka fo’ sure, massa!) and none of the white people do. I’m Southern. This is BS. If you are writing in dialect, write in dialect for everyone. If you don’t? That’s more than a bit racist.

    I personally think the author isn’t racist, just tone deaf and an idiot. The book can come across as rather racist, especially the use of dialect.

    The movie does a good job of throwing out the huge majority of… questionable decisions the author made in writing the book. Good, solid performances, too.

    That said, the author is annoying, and reminds me of certain people I went to college with and work with: they think they are color blind, but aren’t.

    She needs to give the maid 50K at least, as a gesture. Or at least make a donation to a large charitable cause in the woman’s name.

    Also, the lawsuit is very similar to the “Memoirs of A Geisha” case.

  30. layla says:

    Have not read the book of seen the film. Nor do I have a desire to.

    So, from my uneducated opinion – the author couldn’t even be bothered to CHANGE HER NAME (besides a slight skew on spelling)????

    That pretty much sums it up for me.

  31. Seal Time 6 says:

    Okay, please don’t flame me: the people who either hate the movie or love the movie seem to not be from the South. Everyone I know who lives here and has seen the movie or read the book, regardless of race or gender, aren’t hating it nor liking it, but discussing it and the racial and classist issues it brings up.

    I just find that interesting.

  32. Kate says:

    @Jack:

    Statutes of limitations are enacted by state legislatures, not judges. They have been around for a long long time and they serve multiple purposes, including requiring suits to be filed while evidence is still available and “rememberable” They are not “republican” or “democratic” tools.

    That the author notified the maid about the book when it was first published and the maid didn’t do anything about it until the book became a hit tells me all I need to know about the claim.

    The author was not going to offer a settlement when the suit was going to easily be dismissed because of the statute of limitations.

  33. Statler says:

    @Ashley-

    I know you were addressing CB, but could you leave a link to the NYT interview for those of us who are also curious? (I haven’t been able to find it on the Google.)

  34. Turtle Dove says:

    I haven’t read the book or seen the movie, but the post was great. It does seem to me that the author was too aggressive in misappropriating details from this woman’s life. Methinks the note she sent was a big hint that it WAS about Abilene.

    Thanks for posting, CB.

  35. Pizzazz says:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/you/article-1199603/This-Life-Kathryn-Stockett-childhood-Deep-South.html

    I haven’t read ‘The Help’ so I can’t speak to whether or not I agree with the insults, however, I get so sick and tired of this attitude that as a white person it is simply impossible to understand or have a perspective on racism. According to the above article, the author wrote this book about her own nanny/housekeeper who is dead.

    Get real. Why would she have based her book on a woman that arguably she hardly knew (her brother’s housekeeper) when she grew up with this other woman and knew her intimately? It sounds like the lawsuit was rightfully dismissed even if it was for another reason (statute of limitations). Honestly, people are far too litigious. These false claims are partly to blame for why our legal system is so screwed up.

  36. whitedaisy says:

    It is not legally obligatory for the author to make a financial gesture to the woman who inspired the main character, but it would be morally praiseworthy.

  37. DetRiotgirl says:

    I wasn’t going to see this movie or read the book anyway. The description “it’s Avatar of chick flicks” has me reaching for the barf bag all by itself, and this article only makes me feel more confident about that choice.

    Unfortunately for the maid, I think she would have had a hard time winning that lawsuit even if the statue of limitations hadn’t run out. Since the book is described as being fiction, the author would definitely have the upper hand in court. It’s actually quite hard to sue someone for printing lies or hurtful dipictions of you in America. Just think of how many celbs try and fail to sue the weekly tabloids! And those rags aren’t even going for the blanket protection of calling their work fiction!

    I feel for her though. The author of the book should acknowledge her, at the very least.

  38. Karmagirl says:

    I think what is significant is the similarity of the names. If she wanted to base the character on her, she didn’t need to use a name that was almost identical. Maybe she can get away with what she did legally, but I find her behavior morally reprehensible.

  39. Hellen says:

    I read the book which (from a another writer’s perspective) was terrible in and of itself: full of cliches, silly plot points and trite characterizations, and generally poor writing in a technical sense. It read more like a first draft of a novel that should have been worked on much more assiduously by both the author and a good editor. And a spell-check program.

    If it’s true that the author just couldn’t be bothered enough to change such a distinctive character name, then I think it’s a very short step to assuming that she did not invent or change other details either. Whether or not that merits a court case, it’s an ethical issue than many writers face and handle much more gracefully and honestly than Stockett has.

  40. mln76 says:

    @belle us black people can dislike this Stockett woman AND Tyler Perry thank you very much. And just because those are the only choices you may be aware of concerning African Americans in film or literature please don’t presume those two hacks are the only things out there.

  41. Jenni says:

    Since she didn’t wanta give credit to anybody, Why wouldn’t she change the maid’s name, change the specific quirky and tragic details about her life? Gold tooth, wig, son having died a few months prior…? On the spot I can alter those details, please. Call her Joemma or Rosie, give her a bad eye or eye patch, lost her kid 10 years prior in a car accident, or 20 years prior in childbearing, and give her constant JollyRancher or peppermint breath. I mean come on. Changing details is easy. Especially a NAME. What bothers me is it shows she didn’t even think about the fact the real Aibilene just might read her book or hear about it. Like the real Aibilene is so simple and ignorant she never reads and doesn’t have any friends that do either. If I were her I’d be totally embarrassed. Like the real Aibilene can’t read or is too stupid to notice. She should have said “inspired by Aibilene…” as it obviously was. But the author’s head is probably too far up her own butt to even realize she did anything remotely presumptous or douchey. Also the cockroach comparison is is gross.

  42. WOM says:

    I read the book and hated it.

    [[SPOILER ALERT!]]

    My biggest issue was that the big secret that changes the balance of power between the white women and the black women is a pie filled with poop. That the author could not think of a more substantial, less disgusting, more authentic and powerful plot twist speaks volume about her lack of talent.

    However, I don’t think this lawsuit has merit. Being embarrassed and greedy are not grounds for being rewarded damages.

  43. Sassy says:

    This book, which I read and donated to Goodwill, was mediocre at best. However, it was a big “book club” choice. In other words, appealed to non readers and could be “discussed” by the book club ladies. I am a voracious reader, always have been. I have joined 3 book clubs over the years and quit them all after one season. Most book club members don’t like “hard to read” books, and this one was considered an easy to read novel, so a perfect book club choice.

  44. khaveman says:

    Wait, you can’t base a character on a living person without giving them a ton of money? It’s a wonder every author since the beginning of literature wasn’t sued??? Or are we just overly litigious now? America is so greedy it disgusts me.

  45. Mourning the Death of Music says:

    @ RMac – Thank you.

  46. Darlene says:

    I liked the movie and loved the book.

  47. anne_000 says:

    @belle – (i haven’t seen the movie, but this is from a review i’ve read). i think the difference between “the help” & tyler perry’s movie regarding how african-americans are portrayed is that the former movie has african-americans in some way dependent on whites to ‘help’ them out while the latter has african-americans helping themselves out.
    ***
    @rmac – usually disclaimers say “any likeness is purely coincidental.” since the portrayals including the using the same name & life experiences were thought to be NOT coincidental, the lawsuit was filed.

  48. Glyrics says:

    Saw it. Bored to tears. Three bathroom breaks. Did not like any character. Maybe because it’s set in the South made me predisposed not to like it. The white women were too… ugh. I think maids deserved tons of respect. I think they should get to set their employers on fire. I’m thinking a comedy.

  49. Jane says:

    I agree with RMac. I am also from the south and hear the dialects of my area in both white and black to this day.

  50. moi says:

    The author is a self-absorbed hack and, much like the pie in her book, full of sh*t.

    This does article does not surprise me in the least.

  51. Deven says:

    It’s hideously corrupt and stupid to steal a person’s life history so blatantly. The “writer” defames the word “author” and should be barred from publishing another book ever. What a crappy thing to do to someone…what unmitigated gall to treat another person that way.

  52. coucou says:

    We need to sick Oprah on this hack’s ass…oh please, i would SO LOVE THAT

  53. Grammarnazi says:

    Just finished the book and wanted to add that Yule Mae, the black maid who was college-educated did not “speak” in a dialect, but standard English.

  54. truetalk says:

    i don’t think the problem is with the dialect or style of writing. my problem with this whole matter is i personally will not want someone writing about important aspects of my life (easily recognisable by my family and friends) without a go-ahead from me.

  55. Lairen says:

    Many writers (ie, almost all writers) write from what they know. Stories are oftentimes richer when based off life experiences; many stories are built from things we’ve experienced in our own lives whether we realize it or not. While I believe Stockett should admit that yes, maybe she was consciously or subconsciously influenced by Aibileen’s own life, I don’t think she should be sued. It’s very likely that she thought she was pulling ideas and stories from her own imagination that were influenced by subconscious memories she had of things she’d heard before.

  56. G says:

    I agree with the people who say that Kathryn Stockett should at least do something for Abilene Cooper. No such thing as coincidences. The part about her getting even the detail about Abilene’s child passing away is especially troubling to me. Your book is a bestseller, you’re going to make millions off the movie, what’s $75,000 to you? But what’s worse than skipping out on any financial help, at least for me, is the denial that Abilene is at the heart of the narrative… no, Abilene, this is not your story I’m selling to the world. No, Abilene, this is not your heartbreak I’m exploiting. No, Abilene, this has absolutely nothing to do with you. I suppose it doesn’t help (and it isn’t really fair to say) that I keep getting this Paltrow/Bushnell type of smugness from Stockett in her photos.

  57. jc126 says:

    You know, some of you are making this sound so awful that I now kind of want to read it, to see if it lives up to the low expectations I have for it.

    And the name “Abilene” isn’t exactly common, so it’s not hard to picture this woman stealing the maid’s life story. Does she mention her in the acknowledgments?

  58. anne_000 says:

    i think when stockett basically used Abilene’s name (albeit spelled Aibileen in the book)& Abilene Cooper’s life experiences, then it went beyond “subconscious memories” & beyond any disclaimer of “any likeness is purely coincidental.”

    stockett should at least acknowledge Cooper’s many influences in the book.

  59. Blue says:

    I don’t see how this woman is just trying “to get a piece of the pie.” The similarities are blatant and it’s not exactly fiction if it’s taking many aspects of one persons life. If this woman was really money hunger she would have sued for more. I think the “author” didn’t offer a settlement because she knew the case would be thrown out. The decent thing to do would be to offer her some money but it doesn’t seem like she’s a decent person. I guess she knows a lot of maids named Abilene, with a gold tooth and a deceased son. Smh

  60. JT says:

    The whole situation is really unfortunate. Just because an author says their writing is fiction doesn’t suddenly make it so. If she had drawn from sources in her own life, real people, she has an obligation to acknowledge those individuals, no matter how small a part they played. This women has a direct link to the author, she is not some random women the author has never met. It has nothing to do with money, but giving credit and respect where it is due.

    Even before reading this I had zero desire to watch the movie or read the book. The novel is a story about black civil rights, yet we have a white protagonist and this white protagonist is portrayed as a saviour to white people. The civil rights movement has suddenly been turned into a sappy coming of age story of a white girl. It’s pathetic and it seems to be the only thing that Hollywood can come up with. This has nothing to do with history, but turning what was an incredibly horrific and terrifying time into something that can be mass marketed to white audiences. White people did not save black people; the most pivotal black civil rights movements were carried out by blacks. Where are those stories?

  61. ERM says:

    I’m so sick of people suing. If she wanted money then she should have thought of the idea, written a book and made a movie! Then again, it so much easier to go for the lawsuit.

  62. red says:

    BTW, it wasn’t just in the south that this stuff was going on. All along the west coast (aka, the left coast) African-Americans were relegated to particular residential areas. The only time you could live outside of that area was if you lived with a family as a maid or butler or other service person, or if you had scads of money to offset all the prejudice.

    Saw the movie. It was weirdly plotted and I also didn’t get the whole poop thing. It was gross and stupid and unbelievable. I loved some of the characterizations by the actresses but the movie wasn’t good.

  63. Grace says:

    @belle, A lot of African-Americans absolutely loathe Tyler Perry’s movies, and in my experience a lot of those same people take issue with “The Help.” Even among one demographic, there are many different types of people, which you don’t seem to realize. Your comment really irks me. Do people still use the phrase “their people” to refer to other Americans? That’s incredible.

  64. Grace says:

    To respond to the post, that last picture is truly priceless and I don’t get why people let their young daughters wear heels.

  65. smh says:

    she (the author) looks very stupid/insane

  66. wunderkindt says:

    Stockett certainly knows how to exploit African Americans’ lives and troubles.

    Her book is very racist and insulting!

  67. Jaye E says:

    @Grace…THANK YOU! I absolutely HATE it when people paint one group of people with such broad strokes. People, even ones of the same ethnic background, are as unique as snowflakes.

  68. Twez says:

    I am born, raised, and lived my entire life in south Louisiana, so please do not assume this is a “Southern thang” and y’all Yankees jes’ don’ unnerstand the fine craft of this book and film.

    Kathryn Stockett is a worse fucking hack than Dan Brown. At least he credited the sources of the ideas on which he based his piece de crap bestseller. Stockett didn’t “write about her own life,” SHE WROTE ABOUT SOMEONE ELSE’S LIFE. She copied the details of the life of a person known to her, and has the unmitigated gall to claim that shit is a full and total work of fiction. She should at the very least take an honorable approach and play it as though she now realizes she must have unconsciously taken details of Ms. Cooper’s life and used it for the character.

    It’s an insult to anyone who has ever written fiction, and claimed proudly, “This is mine. I created this.”

    My consolation is that Stockett will never be able to follow this up, unless she meets someone else with less power than she whose life she can mine for potential stories.

  69. Laila says:

    Eh, I’m black and never really got the whole anger over “The Help.” Sure, it is a total white savior movie but in reality most of the black maids did talk in that sort dialect. I also don’t think she has much of a case…my aunt has a freaking gold tooth and wears a cross, that is not uncommon at all among older folks. She might have jacked the name, but I doubt she really took this woman’s life story on purpose. The only thing that made me raise an eyebrow was the death of the son, but again I wonder if the author even knew what happened. This was before the maid worked for her brother.

  70. ZenB!tch says:

    I loved the book. I haven’t seen the movie but my friends who’ve seen it loved it.

    My friends are of all different races but none are from the South. Not sure if that makes a difference in our reactions.

    However, this is horrible.

  71. Ashley says:

    I can’t believe it ,,first a few weeks ago,
    http://www.celebitchy.com/175102/the_association_of_black_women_historians_pens_an_open_letter_to_the_help/
    everyone was saying “this story is trash and is not TRUE and is all nonesense as it does not portray the REAL life of black servants ,,da da da..
    NOW, everyone is saying “It is REAL, not only that ,,it is so REAL that it is the story of the authour’s brother’s maid..
    Make up your mind people..it is real (Stollen ) or fiction??
    I hope this woman made enought money with her story to buy another pair of shoes as she is wearing the same shoes in every appearance.
    How cheap!

  72. Gretchen says:

    appropriation is a bitch. Stockett should pay up…but she won’t…because she’s privileged and thinks she has a right to steal the life of a black woman, because hey! she’s black.

  73. ADS says:

    @ Belle- Do shut up!!

    @ Laila – It truly does not matter that you ‘didn’t get the anger’ towards The Help. Some people are angry and some are not. Most however, don’t give a shit.

  74. gobo says:

    I watched the trailer and it made me feel very uncomfortable.

  75. Shy says:

    I’m on Team Author. That Kathryn Stocket has worked hes ass off. She was sitting and writing the whole book, creating storminess and characters and then she had to find the way to publish it and then hope that book will be successful.

    While that Maid has done absolutely nothing. And now that the movie become successful she want’s money? For what? Every third maid in the world may have similar story. And? Now every one of them should get money from the author?

    I’m still waiting to watch the movie. But I kind of don’t understand how she could steal her life? The movie is based in 1960 era. While this maid was been working in our era. And things are totally different now.

  76. Mrs. Odie 2 says:

    Wait, this woman is black and from Jackson? She worked for white families? She had a gold tooth and wore a cross? She was religious? That description doesn’t match a single other black woman in the sixties. Clearly this author owes that lady millions. And she has a son who died at 18 of leukemia? That is exactly like the book! The main character had a son who died in his twenties in a work accident.

  77. Most every book is derivative, don’t kid yourself.

  78. RMac says:

    @Anne_000 I was quoting in order to make a point that the author is protected under the law, more so than anyone that may have inspired a character. According to the courts, it was coincidental.

    Also, I think the hate in a lot of comments on Celebitchy is quite frightening. Even in this one, here’s a woman who made something of herself and yet, people are hating her. Sure, I like jokes and pointing out the ironies of celebrity life, but I think perhaps we could take the hate down a notch… Stockett doesn’t even make the cut for “The Worst People of All Time” list.

    All of these criticisms about “The Help” are ridiculous. Clearly, most people have no understanding of racial tensions in the South or the Civil Rights Movement. If they had an understanding of what it was and still is like in the South, perhaps they would be hesitant to use hate and anger so freely.

  79. DG says:

    The people who are trying to judge the movie but yet haven’t even SEEN it need to get over themselves.

  80. Jeannified says:

    The way this woman wrotes about the south IS true…at least in rural areas. She should have given Abbie (the REAL Abbie) some money, though.

  81. lucy2 says:

    I liked the book and the film (Viola Davis was phenomenal in it) for the story and the different relationships between all the women. It wasn’t perfect, but I think a lot of the criticism about it is too far reaching for a fictional novel.
    However, when I heard about the lawsuit a while ago, I did think there were many similarities and wasn’t surprised the woman was suing. It’s a shame for her it didn’t happen in time, because I bet the author would have settled to avoid some of this bad press.

  82. Jo 'Mama' Besser says:

    You can’t stamp your foot on the ground demanding that other people not ever express their experiences of racism unless you’re gunning for a thread war, because people don’t like having things demanded of them in cases like this. Crusaders though we all may be, if nothing more, sometimes you have to understand that the ‘Reverse Persecution’ agruments are just going to inflame things more. Why are we so soon to invest all of our trust in Stockett over Cooper? Just because? Legal technicalities? Personal knowledge or witness? Her occupation? Great amenities, but time and her ‘no guilty’ status don’t prove full innocence. Does she have a secret government file that we’ve never seen that automatically proves that she’s a thief, liar, mental degenerate, layabout and all-around rogue? Without thought of legal concerns what I’ve heard is this: It’s fiction because Stockett says it’s fiction. It’s fiction because Cooper says a lot of it is not fiction. tThat proves it. I also keep hearing that it’s fiction versus the notion of authors invariably writing what they know. So which part goes where?

    Haven’t endless scripts wherein the author of the family gets frozen out by relatives who have been characterized by protesting writers of fiction? Can’t wait until Stockett wasn’t/is/used to/’Fifth’ produces a story in this tired old–entirely fresh and virginal of the written word–story of

    The reason Ms. Cooper didn’t ‘do anything’ is because she was raising everyone else’s kids. I just don’t understand how that can be categoried as lazy or unmotivated. By that reasoning, couldn’t it reasonably be said that of course people in Stockett’s position could write novels, since they were so lazy self-absorbed they couldn’t be bothered to raise their own children in the house. You can run with any idea out there to its weirdest and more accusatory end. If Cooper’s allegations are true why blame the guy who shot in the shot in the leg for not having bulletproof limbs? There’s no reason for her to apologize for working hard and for a long time often under difficult circumstances to Stockett or anyone for not writing her autobiography? Why is it that this is something we’re not only expecting people to do, but denigrating them for having not done? When the hell would she have done that? How good would her chances have been at getting them published? Am I the only one here not on the fourth volume of my memoirs? Am I opening myself up for deserved theft? Who’s going to do it? I need to know so we can plan his parade.

    Well, this conflict isn’t one that likely be fully resolved, right? But I do want to know how people will feel when the next time something of this nature comes along, how you’ll feel when someone says ‘Stockett and Cooper was so long ago, how long do expect people of colour have to apologize? Yeah, watching us grapple with our re-enforced stereotypes is superhard, but how come it’s when you’re hurt that you express hurt? Why would you be such a victim, isn’t it a post-racial world? Doesn’t that mean that I get to always tell everyone how they are allowed to feel and respond about things? Oh, you want to start about having that dictated at you? Same as always, get over it.’