Monday, August 15, 2011

"The Help", marketing and Racial Relations

How many of you have read "The Help" by Kathryn Stockett? Chances are, a lot of the reading ladies have, men -maybe not so many. Published originally in 2009, it became an instant hit, which undoubtedly was a sweet feeling for the writer Ms. Stockett, who managed to receive countless rejections before the greenlight for publishing. That tells you that those literary watchdogs at publishing houses do not know everything: "The Help" remained on the NY Times bestseller list over 100 weeks. 100 weeks, people. So all you writer-wannabes, do not get discouraged. Ever.

The story of the "The Help" is situated in the deep south, Mississippi of the 1960s. Point of view is switched between the black nannies working for the well-to- do white families and a recent white college graduate, who begins to question the often silly practices resulting from the race relations. The womens´ lives intertwine regardless of racial differences, friendships evolve and bittersweet destinies are told. This is not Kafka, by no means, but it is touching and... interesting. There are many good writers in the world, but to be interesting and catch people´s attention -that is a whole other ballgame. And Stockett clearly knows how to swing the bat.

So I do recommend the book. If anything, it makes a good companion on those cold fall evenings alone at home, just before the bedtime.( And again men, I do realize if this topic does not quite hit the home planet)
So what happens to a bestseller book in this world of ours? It gets made into a movie, of course.
So far, the film "The Help" has grossed 30 $ million dollars in the US, and it opened just last week. For a small, women-based movie, it is a lot. It is tougher to get women to the movies, you see. The expectations for the worldwide-profits are huge, of course.  We´ll just have to see how the rest of the world reacts.
The film has an impressive cast: Bryce Dallas Howard, Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer and Alllison Janney. And it stars Emma Stone, whom I find genius in her own craft.

Like in all marketing, different versions are produced for different markets. Naturally. So there exists the international trailer and the US trailer. Watch below.
The US-trailer:

And the International trailer-version:

Notice the slight differences? Just to clarify, here are the book covers.

The US book:

And the UK-version:

Interesting, don´t you think? For one reason or another, I do find the International trainer to be more fitting for the book, warm and slightly more realistic. Whereas the US-trailer is pure smiles, laughter, soppy comedy and borderline lame slapstick pie.The real issue of the original book, racial tensions between the women, is more obscure and hidden within the US -film trailer. But then again, when looking at the book covers, there seems to be a general theme here with the marketing line. Race is still a sore issue in America, let us not forget that. King´s dream might still be, albeit slightly, out of reach. And for extra discussion concerning the book, which has divided opinions left and right, go here.

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