Miss N

The Two Faces in Lee Daniels’ The Butler

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Lee Daniels’ The Butler arrives in cinemas in the US this weekend. It’s a while before it reaches South African shores, but the film has a close resonance that will be felt there, in scenes where Nelson Mandela’s name is chanted, and Apartheid is protested from afar. I will be posting links to the stories I’m doing when the film releases closer to the time, but for now, there were a few words said at a recent press conference for the film that I’d like to share.

The film springs off from the true life story of Eugene Allen, a butler who served at the White House through 8 presidencies. Danny Strong took the article written about Allen, by Wil Haygood in the Washington Post, and created a movie script that, through one man’s story, we are able to learn and feel more about the experience of a black family living through the Civil Rights movement.

The film’s themes of racism and wearing ‘two faces’ came up during the press conference, as the line is uttered during the movie as something Cecil, the butler played by Forest Whitaker, has to do when interacting with white people.

First Lee Daniels spoke about his experience, and then Oprah.

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Then Cuba disagreed…

But Terrence Howard left us with these profound words…

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The experience of the press conference was almost like being in an Oprah episode itself. With the legacy of racism still being felt today, the film – and further discussions around it – are so valuable.

 

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