The film appears to celebrate the fearlessness and tenacity of the all-female military unit, but some history buffs weren’t too pleased with the way the movie’s director Gina Prince-Bythewood, downplayed the Dahomey’s involvement in the Atlantic Slave Trade. Throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, the Dahomey and their all-female military regiment became notorious for capturing and selling African slaves to Europeans. Between 1851 and 1852, the British imposed a naval blockade on the ports of Dahomey forcing the tribe to end the exportation of slaves from their bases.
Some social media users urged viewers to “boycott” The Woman King
Another user accused Hollywood of “glorifying and whitewashing” the “truth” of African slaves being traded into slavery.
Other users argued that the film did touch on the Dahomey’s involvement in the slave trade. In fact, some folks on social media said that the difficult history played a large part in the film’s storyline. Critical race theory scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw urged fans to go see the film before boycotting the movie.
“Yes I sure did go see The Woman King for the third time this week! Yes it is that good!! Yes, it awakens our thirst for new storytelling. Yes it raises timeless questions about intra- African complicity. And yes these performances are breathtaking. See it. And then we talk,” the civil rights activist tweeted.
Eventually, after the backlash took the internet by storm, the film’s director Gina Prince-Bythewood quickly addressed the criticism.
“I learned early on you cannot win an argument on Twitter,” Prince-Bythewood explained during an interview with IndieWire. “And I know all of that is going to go away once they see the film. There’s an assumption we’re not dealing with it and we are dealing with it. So I have to live in that confidence. They’re going to see the film and they’re going to see it.”
Despite the negative reviews, The Woman King opened on Friday with a bang, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The film dominated box offices across the U.S., pulling in $19 million after earning “a coveted A+ CinemaScore from audiences,” the publication noted.
Have you seen The Woman King? What did you think of the film? Tell us down below!
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