'The Help' Will Be Shown in Downtown Rochester — But it's Not Meant For Kids
After some parents in the community expressed their concerns about the Movie in the Moonlight selection, city officials say it was never meant for kids.
Is The Help, an Academy Award-winning movie set during the Civil Rights movement, an appropriate "Movie in the Moonlight" selection?
That is the question some members of the Rochester-area community have brought to downtown leaders, citing concerns about some of the language, violence and portrayals of African-Americans in the film.
After considering their concerns, the Principal Shopping District Board determined on Tuesday that they will still show the movie — but warned it's not meant for children.
Movies in the Moonlight is a popular free event on summer Saturdays that shows recent movies on a big screen in a downtown parking lot. Hundreds of people attend the movies; most of the movies are family-friendly.
The Help is the planned July 28 show.
"We try to include at least one adult movie each summer," said Kristi Trevarrow, director of Rochester's Downtown Development Authority.
Last summer, True Grit was shown.
"We have some adults who have told us they want to watch a movie without their kids or anyone else's," Trevarrow said. "We try to accommodate that. The Help was a critically acclaimed movie."
Ayana Knox-Potts first brought up her concerns about the movie selection to the DDA in an email, saying she has six children and would not take them to see the movie.
But more than the adult content of The Help, Knox-Potts, president of the Rochester African American Parent Network, said her concerns were about the subject matter.
"Would Rochester show a movie that made fun of the Holocaust?" Knox-Potts asked. "Or denoted another race in a negative light based upon history that supports injustice?"
The Help, set in Mississippi, is about an aspiring author who decides to write a book detailing the African-American maids' point of view on the white families for which they work.
"With this movie being shown and people generally believing that these movies are intended for family they can unknowingly expose their children or family members to some very sensitive material," Knox-Potts said. "Not a Saturday feel-good movie to show in a downtown parking lot."
Trevarrow said that like other PG-13 movies that are shown, this one is shown in an "airline edit" version.
That means some of the language has been voiced over and some scenes have been cropped.
According to a list of more than 40 edits of the movie, for example, the phrases "holy shout" and "eat my spit" replace some of the profanity in the movie. Also, many of the more violent scenes have been reduced or omitted.
"Regardless of the movie being the edited it is still a movie that makes fun of racism and denotes African American women in a negative/condescending light," Knox-Pott said.
"I hope that if nothing else it won't be advertised as family friendly."
Advertisement for Movies in the Moonlight on the DDA website states "movies rated PG-13 are edited versions whenever possible, however parental guidance is still requested."