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Jonathan Suttin

Kitty Dunn

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Kitty's problem with "The Help"

It seems just about everybody has read the book "The Help," or at least has seen the movie. I'm sure I'm not the first person to have a problem with the book...but it's probably not the same one others have written about. Kathryn Stockett's book "The Help" is the story of black maids and the white families they work for, set in Jackson, Mississippi against the backdrop of the civil rights movement. Some crtics have said it's not historically accurate, while others have complained that the author overstepped her bounds in trying to write from the perspective of a black woman of that era. But that's not what annoyed me. Here's what ignited this reader's flame. Kathryn Stockett doesn't know beans about rock and roll! In one chapter, which is supposed to be the summer of 1963, one of the white characters hums the Beatles's song "Love Me Do."  Really, Ms. Stockett? This young white female in the deep south is humming a song that won't be released in the United States until April of the following year?  The Beatles haven't even been on the Ed Sullivan show yet, and Beatlemania hasn't even really kicked in England yet, but somehow this woman knows the tune, and she's in Mississippi? I just simmered down enough from that one when that same character is listening to the radio in her car and she hears a song by the new band The Rolling Stones. This was in January, a month before the Beatles were on Ed Sullivan, and four months before the Stones'  first single was released in the U.S. Simply amazing. I guess I'm being a bit of a nitpicker (or music snob), but come on. Don't they have editors that double check this kind of stuff? What other stuff did she get wrong? Those blunders really made me wonder. In another chapter a character changes the channel with a remote control..a Space Command.  I had to look that up. Was the Zenith space command in use in 1963? Yes, it was introduced in the 1950's. Okay, she gets a pass on that one. (And despite all of this...I still really liked the book and recommend it!)

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10/12/2011 10:54AM
Kitty's problem with "The Help"
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10/13/2011 4:13AM
Steve
I haven't read the book, Kitty. But I rented The Help the other day and it was Beatles from beginning to end! And I don't remember any of it taking place in the south. Folks jsut wanted Ringo's ring. Oh well. Maybe I'm nitpicking.
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