Octavia Spencer, Viola Davis, The Help

Dale Robinette/DreamWorks

"Great, thanks for the loaded question," Best Actress winner Viola Davis told me privately backstage at the Shrine Sunday night, right after she'd had her rousing win over favorite Meryl Streep. I had not asked Viola if she felt guilty about trouncing Streep (as many other journalists had), but instead, I was wondering why it took a Caucasian woman (played by fab Emma Stone) to get these African-American maids in her movie motivated for change?

Sort of makes it look like it took a white woman to commandeer the Civil Rights movement, doesn't?

"I see your point," Viola, shimmering in her Greek-goddess white gown, said deliberately. "But you have to wonder why someone would ask this question."

I'm not exactly sure where Davis was going with that one, but I assured her I wasn't the only one wondering such thoughts.

Especially to young people who aren't schooled in Civil Rights history, I said, "it sort of makes it look like it took a white author to get the job done."

"Skeeter [Emma Stone's character] just wanted to be a great writer," Viola explained, in defense. "And she helped these women.

"But it is the black women who risked their lives in this movie," Davis finished.

At this point, Octavia Spencer, who'd I'd already chatted with earlier in the evening about rail-thin Hollywood women, came up to Davis and myself.

"Octavia already gave me hell for this question at the Globes," I confessed, "when she told me people just need to ‘stop labeling everybody else'."

At which point Spencer gave me one of those And your point is? looks, quickly followed by a huge smile.

"Like I said," Viola added (smiling as well), "it's a loaded question."

But is it, really? Also, everybody, let's get this question settled now, because I assure you it looks like Davis may very well be getting the Oscar for her Help performance.

So, the somewhat sticky issue ain't going anywhere.

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