Over the weekend, I watched The Help, with the intention of writing about it and one or two other Oscar movies, but since the impulse to do so could be summed up by the phrase "It's something to do," the urge quickly faded. This was not helped along by the fact that The Help exasperated me to the degree that I found it easy to focus on other matters, and that the only other film I watched for this scuttled post, Midnight in Paris drew from my mind no thoughts beyond "That was a pretty good movie."
Still, one thing about The Help must be noted. A lot of people have talked about the hideous "chocolate pie" scene from this movie, some even noting the absurdity that a film as pleased with itself as this one should hinge almost entirely on one woman serving another woman an evidently delicious pie made out of human crap. But as this is depicted as an act of well-deserved revenge, it is not thought about in terms other than "This is stupid" (it is) or "This is funny and makes total sense!" (it isn't and doesn't). Now, I'm not about to argue the morality of it, because the pie-eater, played by Bryce Dallas Howard, is an inhuman monster. Her reaction to the pie, however, reminds me of something Martin Amis once said about porn, which, to paraphrase, is that if you find yourself indiscriminately browsing pornographic images and encounter one whose theme involves coprophagic pig farmers, you better hope you don't find out you like it. The mania of Howard's character from that scene onward could be chalked up to her wrestling with the knowledge that she genuinely likes the taste of what she didn't realize she was eating. Because of course she couldn't not know that wasn't just chocolate, right? That's impossible!
But besides that, the thing I really can't shake is the part the filmmakers so scrupulously avoid showing, and that is the preparation. The baking of the pie. Because the baker, played by Octavia Spencer, had to do all this. In other words, she had to gather her ingredients. And...and mix them. In a pan, in her kitchen. And then put it in her oven, in her kitchen. And once you consider this, you sort of have to think, deserved revenge or not, that this is basically the kind of thing that serial killers do. So I'm left wondering, okay, does she also have a mason jar full of human thumbs stashed somewhere? In the film, she claims to regret her actions, and describes them as horrible, but I'm sorry, there would have to be way too much prep time involved in this whole process for me to buy that. If she thought it was that horrible, she would have stopped as her hand started reaching into the toilet, and said to herself "You know what? No."
She didn't though, and here we are. Pardon me for my crassness.