Movies about slaves and domestics usually inspire collective eye rolls in the African-American community. After the controversy revolving around last year’s “Django Unchained” and 2011′s “The Help,” the patience of Black moviegoers has grown thin with portrayals of magical Negroes in subservient roles. With “Lee Daniel’s The Butler” we finally get a film that pays tribute to the everyday heroes of the Civil Rights movement. Forest Whitaker plays Cecil Gaines, a butler who serves at the White House through eight presidential administrations from Dwight Eisenhower to Ronald Reagan. Starting as a fly on the wall of history, Cecil learns to find his voice and stand up for his beliefs as he witnesses the struggle for equality for Black Americans.
Neverthless, the similarity in name and theme to “The Help” has drawn some premature comparisons to the film. Co-star David Oyelowo, who was also in “The Help,” offered his unique perspective on the two films:
“I guess what especially Black audiences react to with a film like ‘The Butler’ in lieu of ‘The Help’ is, here we go again seeing ourselves servile, we’ve seen that time and again. Can’t we see our selves as empowered? The difference with ‘The Butler’ is that you see both points of view. In fact you see several points of view. You see the butler and you see the activist. And you see the tension between the two. It shows us in a far more dimensional way than some of those other movies mentioned.”
TheUrbanDaily.com sat down with the cast of “The Butler” to get their take on why this film isn’t your typical Hollywood fare:
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