“The Help” opened today and stars Emma Stone (one of my favorite actresses), Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer and many others. The best-selling book is supposed to be a work of fiction and not based on any actual person, but a lawsuit says otherwise.
|One day I'll get to read the book.|
The lawsuit quotes passages from the book, including one in which Aibileen's character describes a cockroach: "He black. Blacker than me."
The lawsuit said Cooper found it upsetting and highly offensive to be portrayed as someone "who uses this kind of language and compares her skin color to a cockroach."
Among alleged similarities between Cooper and the character, Cooper said she lost a son shortly before going to work for Stockett's brother, where she takes care of two children, a boy and a girl. Cooper's lawsuit said that's the same as the character portrayed in the book.
Books usually have the disclaimer “Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead is entirely coincidental.” Still many writers get their inspiration from something or someone real. In my journalism classes we always learned “Truth is better than fiction.” Stockett very well could have been inspired to base Aibileen on Cooper. But she probably also took inspiration from other people. After all, she grew up with a maid in the house.
Perhaps it would have been wiser for Stockett to get a little more creative with the book’s details and distort the character enough so it was a composite of all her influences. That could have saved a lawsuit. Please believe if someone used my name and likeness without permission, I’m suing for at least a cool million. Hopefully the two parties will reach an agreement. Either way, I’m looking forward to reading the book and seeing the movie.