Everyone knows Hollywood has a problem with women and race. Film academies, directors, producers, studios, they all deserve to be called out for paying women less, being hesitant to hire leads of color — and sometimes women — whitewashing storylines, and a host of other transgressions. But if you’re going to call someone out for their wrongs, you better be sure you have your facts right. Elizabeth Banks did not.
Yesterday, while accepting an award from the non-profit group Women in Film, the actress decided to call attention to the lack of female-led films in Hollywood, choosing to call out Steven Spielberg, one of the biggest directors of our time, specifically.
“I went to ‘Indiana Jones’ and ‘Jaws’ and every movie Steven Spielberg ever made, and by the way, he’s never made a movie with a female lead,” she said, according to The Wrap. “Sorry, Steven. I don’t mean to call your a– out but it’s true.”
Except it’s not.
Spielberg may not have directed many films with a female lead but one that he did was actually pretty big. “The Color Purple” anyone?
In 1985, Spielberg directed the period drama which starred Whoopi Goldberg and was also based on a book written by a Black woman, Alice Walker. And considering what a monumental work both the book and film were, calling attention to many topics in the ’80s that are still taboo to discuss today — sexism, racism, pedophilia, incest, poverty, domestic violence, rape — I’d say Spielberg has done more than other filmmakers of this era.
But the disrespect didn’t stop there. When people came with “The Color Purple” receipts, Anne Thompson, Editor at Large at IndieWire, then took it upon herself to stand in solidarity with her uneducated white sistren and call “The Color Purple” a flop in an attempt to discredit not only Spielberg — and somehow make Banks right in this situation — but also the actors who starred in the film, namely the Black female lead, Goldberg.
And because Black Twitter takes no slight lying down, the uproar regarding Banks’ comments was seen loud and clear on the social media platform. Check out the best reactions. Note: Steven Spielberg also produced “Memoirs of a Geisha,” with Chinese actress Zhang Ziyi as the lead. Don’t come for him.