My disdain for “Black films” that boast White heroes hit its arch circa “The Help.” Though Viola Davis, wigless, in her corn rolls and sweaty dark brown skin, poignantly contributed the substance to the pages of Mississippi’s most scandalous literature at the time, she was given the opportunity by Skeeter–an ambitious blonde who rather read and write books than make babies. With similar names, one would expect Lee Daniel’s “The Butler” to mirror “The Help.” However, it is everything “The Help” wasn’t and so desperately wanted to be. “The Butler” feels more like “Forest Gump” than it does “The Help.”
Within the two and a half hours it takes Daniels’ to tell the story of Eugene Allen through Forest Whitaker’s vessel as Cecil Gaines, you will go through an array of emotions, there are moments that command you to chuckle, scenes that require tissue and other times when you feel hatred filling in your gut. Told over the course of eight presidencies, through the eyes of the White House domestic, “The Butler” is charming most of the time and unbearable at others.
Cecil was born into a life of servitude, his parents (Mariah Carey, David Banner) were sharecroppers. On the plantation, is where Cecil first witnesses the atrocities being African-American post slavery, pre-civil war brought forth. His father, gunned down in front of him for protecting his mother, left him with one daunting piece of advice, “It’s his world, we just live in it,” which may have been the precursor to Cecil’s obedient demeanor. Determined to be more than a corpse buried under the feet of cotton pickers, Cecil ventured into the world pursuant of a different lifestyle. He learned the way of the house negro, with which forks to eat the salad, serve from the left and most-importantly make the White man as comfortable as possible– a message that parallels today’s crimes against African-Americans.
Blacks aren’t being lynched per say, but young Black men like Trayvon Martin are killed because of their skin color, attire and being unintentionally intimidating– a characteristic perpetuated by society. With films like “Fruitvale Station” on the tip of prominent tongues like Denzel Washington, the Black story is being told in an unabashed way that Hollywood should fear because it makes Whites look worse than they did when George Zimmerman walked.
The ensemble cast: Cuba Gooding Jr, Lenny Kravtiz, Terrence Howard, Oprah Winfrey, Forest Whitaker, Yaya DaCosta, David Oyelowo, Robin Williams, Jane Fonda and so many more, gave stellar performances in their respect roles.
It’s particularly uncomfortable watching Carol Hammie (Yaya DaCosta) be spit on for sitting in the White section of an establishment while her cohort is sprayed with ketchup and violently shoved by White men who see no wrong in attempting to uphold Jim Crow’s separate but equal law. More than a brazen history lesson, “The Butler” is an unconventional father and son story. Cecil passively fights the powers that be and while his son Louis Gaines (David Oyelowo) is an active freedom fighter whose reverence lies in figures who would rather be beaten than subscribe to the White man’s way. Their opposing viewpoints creates the films most dynamic relationship.
Cecil’s wife Gloria (Oprah) is the glue that kept their family together while Cecil tended to the needs of others. Oprah was desirable, inviting and funny. “The Butler” captivates you and holds you there because you’ve become so invested in the characters and chain of events led by tragic moments that rock you to the core. Of all the cast, Cecil Gaines was the most charming. A genuine warmth could be felt whenever he smiled, or extended his hand to shake another. Whitaker’s performance will earn him an Oscar nomination.
There won’t be another film like “The Butler” for some years. Daniel’s will be praised for his work the same he was for “Precious.”
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Also On HelloBeautiful:
1. Blue. #May10 #NYC
2. Daddy & Me
Blue Ivy walks across mommy's at-home photoshoot, but it's the most adorable photobomb ever!
4. One Big Happy Family
The royal family, Bey, Jay & Blue are all out shopping and we're sure they spent our entire life's savings in 30 minutes or less.
5. Beyoncé, Jay Z & Blue in Beverly Hills — Nov. 11
Beyonce in these heels though?!
6. Beyoncé & Blue in NYC — Nov. 4
Look at Blue in her adorable little bow!
7. Beyoncé & Blue spotted in NYC — Nov. 4
Blue holding on to mommy for dear life.
8. Beyoncé & Blue spotted in NYC — Nov. 4
Momma Bey looking fierce with her mini me in tow.
9. Blue dressed as Michael Jackson.
10. Blue & Ivy
Just look at that face. Seriously, Jay could never deny this child! She knows how to make all his mean mugs!
11. Beyoncé, Jay Z & Blue in Beverly Hills — Nov. 11
Look at that cutie!
12. Beyoncé, Jay Z & Blue in Beverly Hills — Nov. 11
OMG Blue in a top knot? Yasss!
Blue has grown up to be an adorable toddler! We're swooning over this photo of her playing on the beach.
Looks like Blue is taking a walk in mom's shoes...literally.
15. Beyoncé & Blue
There's nothing like being cuddled up in mom's arms.
Blue is looking all kinds of adorable! Look at that left hand go! LOL.
17. Blue On The Big Screen
Bey & Jay look at Blue during a video played at an "On The Run" tour stop. How precious!
18. Pardon Blue's Back
She's growing up so fast! We're loving the top knot. Take that Blue Ivy hair critics!
19. Jump Around
Bey & Blue share an adorable moment on the trampoline. Hello summer!
20. Rocking Some Cute Ponytails
Blue Ivy was spotted with a new 'do! Bey & Jay's mini-me was holding on to her father during a little day stroll.
21. Strolling With Mom & Dad
Blue, Jay and Bey all spotted in East Hampton.
22. Blue Has A Manicure Day With Mama Bey
"Me and my Blue, and my Blue Blue, riding🐝"
23. Hanging Out With Mom
Baby Blue is walking to the door, and it looks like Bey is trying to keep up!
24. Trying On Some Heels
Will Blue be slaying a performance in the near future?
25. Holding On To Mom
Blue looks like she has something to say to Bey.
26. Playing A Game Of Tennis
Blue walks on the tennis court.
27. Cuddling With Mom
Blue & Beyonce have some much-needed cuddle time.
28. Blue Ivy
"The blueprint 🐝"
29. Bey & Blue Take A Stroll
Doesn't Blue look adorable with her colorful dress and cute hair ribbon?
30. The Carter Lounge Together
The family was seen out and about.
31. Jay Z Carries Blue While Bey Looks On
Jay carries Blue in his arms.
32. Leading The Way
Blue Ivy looks too cute with her bowler hat and Mama Bey watching from behind. She's really growing up!
33. Out On The Town
Blue Ivy & Momma Bey enjoy some much deserved time off in Spain.
34. Traveling With Mom and Dad
Blue is used to traveling with Mama Bey and Poppa Jay, but she also looked a little flustered at some moments. It's ok, baby Blue!
35. A Day At The Park
Poppa Jay Z lets Blue Ivy have her way with the bouncy horse.
36. It's A Family Affair
Beyonce, Jay and Blue jetsetting in Dublin.
Blue dressed up like a hipster and plays a quick game of peekaboo! How adorable!
38. OMG It's Blue's Beautiful Face!
FINALLY! We get to see how beautiful Blue is! Look at the adorable headband! "Blue 💙"
39. Blue Ivy
Life's a beach!
40. Brooklyn Stand Up!
"Beyonce & Blue"
41. Blue Ivy's Got Her Own iPhone
"Momma, what's your password?"
42. Beyonce's Lazy Day With Blue
"Momma, I asked you for your password!"
43. When Blue Ivy Takes Your Phone, Beyonce Be Like...
"Fine, I'll go ask Daddy!"
44. Blue Ivy On Tour
"Bey & Blue"
45. It's Playtime
Beyonce & Blue take some time out to play.
46. A Chilly Day In NYC
"Beyoncé, Jay Z and Blue Ivy in NYC - Jan. 19"
47. All Bundled Up
The royal family makes their way to their fancy car.
48. Kisses From Dad
Blue's all bundled up, getting love from Daddy.
49. Blue At The White House
Blue Ivy's taking after mommy and writing a letter.
50. Blue Loves Bo
The White House pup, Bo is showing Blue Ivy some love.
51. The Carters At The White House
Check out the royal family checking out the scene at the White House.
52. It's Christmas Time Again
Blue and Bey checking out the White House Christmas tree.
53. Blue Lovin' Bo
Blue Ivy, dressed like a Princess, showing Bo some love.
54. Like Father, Like Daughter
Blue playing dress up with Daddy's hat.
55. Fun Times With Mommy
Blue Ivy spends some QT with mommy.
56. Mommy & Me
Blue and Bey take a break for some snacks.
57. Silvery Blue
Beyonce carries Blue, while the adorable toddler rocks a metallic jacket that we want and need.
58. The Holy Grail
Blue, Bey & Jay
59. One Big Happy Family
"#miami #newyear #2014"
"Beyoncé & Blue 💙"
61. Blue & Daddy In A Blue Jacket
"Jay and Blue 💙 #NewYear #2014 #Miami"
62. Hold On To Me
"Happy New Year Mommy!"
63. Dora Dora Dora The Explorer
"Beyoncé, Blue and Dora the Explorer"
64. Daddy & Bey
"Look over there Blue, you own that too."
65. Blue's Big B-Day
"Mommy make sure they can only see the back of my head."
66. Painted Faces For Blue's Bday
"Let me get down Mommy, I wanna play!"
67. Kisses From Mommy
Beyonce and Blue prepping for Momma Tina's Masquerade Ball
68. Talk To The Hand!
Beyonce, Jay Z and Blue Ivy were spotted leaving Joey's restaurant in Miami, on January 8th, and Blue had a message for the paps! Talk to the hand!
69. Me & My Daddy
While Beyonce's arm rested, Jay carried Blue from Joey's restaurant, in Miami on January 8th.
70. Blue's First Words
"I'm ready to slay right along with you, Ma!"
71. Imagine The Sound Of This Lullaby
A newborn Blue Ivy gets serenaded by her superstar mother.
72. Don't Mess With Blue!
Every now and again, Blue Ivy reminds you...she is her father's child!
73. All Gold Everything
Blue Ivy takes after her dad's swag. The inseparable duo were spotted in South Beach, Miami illuminating the streets outside their hotel with their yellow luster!
74. All Of The Lights!
"Mommy! All the pretty colors are so blinding! I'm...just..so..overwhelmed! When's my shot coming?! When's my shot coming?!" Blue plays on set with Bey at her 'Blow' video shoot.
75. Hey Blue!
"I can be happy sometimes, see?"
76. Blue Ivy With Daddy
"Why are we clapping, again? I'm not in the shot."
77. Jay Z Tries To Get Blue To Listen To "Magna Carta Holy Grail"
"Daddy, I'm more of a Nas fan."
78. Stepping With Mom
"Wait, Ma. I want the camera to see all angles of this sick dress!"
79. Splashin' & Playin'
"Mom, this water is clean, right? Because I'm not trying to splash in water I can't trust."
80. Beyonce Discusses Important Matters
"Mommy, I completely get it. Yes, I promise to watch the throne."
81. Mommy's Hugs
"Ok, Ma. I love you to pieces, but I like oxygen too." Bey may be the Queen, but this scene from her video "Blue" makes it look as if she can't get enough of being Mom.
82. Blue Ivy Twirls
"Aaaahh, I'm having so much fun not thinking about anything...wiippeee...oh, wait...getting a little sick."
83. Just So You Know...
"I run things. Don't get it twisted."
84. Mommy & Me Loungin'
"Oh, Mommy, I'm so tired of seeing the wigs you snatched last night all on our floor. It's so exhausting. Like, when're they getting picked up? Not now? Oh. Ok."
85. A Kiss For Blue
"Mommy, let me sleep, dang!"
86. Slurpin' On That Milk...Slurpin' Slurpin' On That Milk
"Mommy, gimme that bottle!"
We could watch this adorable GIF of Blue Ivy nonstop forever!
88. Jay Sneaks In Kisses
"Dadddd! Get..Away!..I don't want...No, ugh..No kisses!"
89. Blue Stares Back...
"Hey! Who's that?!"
90. Blue Still Doesn't Get Why Anyone's Here
"No, really, who are you? You're getting to close."
91. Blue and Bey Out For Lunch
"I'm over this now. People just won't let us be. Mom, why can't we just be?!"
92. Blue Is One Tough Cookie
"Ma, please let me just kick them in the face. Like, please, I can't see through all these lights."
93. Blue Jetsets With Jay
"Dad, do we own this boat? I just figured we owned everything, so..."
94. Beyonce Keeps Blue Covered
"Mommy, I think you forgot my feet. I'm cold right now. Are we inside?"
95. Beyonce LOVES Her Blue
Look at that face, how could you not kiss it?!
96. Blue Swings With Mommy
"I like the swing, this is nice, Mom--Oh, I'll let you pose for that shot."
97. Blue Decked Out In Pink
"Are we actually meeting people right now? Oh, I'll get it together, then."
98. A Hot Pink Summer
"Doesn't my mom look absolutely amazing? I know you're hating right now."
99. Working Her Moves
"Was Blue trying out Bey's bootylicious moves already?"
100. Mean In Green
"I'm going to be just as tall as you soon, Mommy! And, by soon, I mean tomorrow."