It just left a lot of people confused and angry.
Elizabeth Banks took the time out to call out Steven Spielberg last night during the Women in Film Crystal + Lucy Awards. Banks’ criticism was about Spielbergs’ lack of female leads in his films.
“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,” the 43-year-old actress said. “Sorry, Steven. I don’t mean to call your ass out, but it’s true.”
Though Banks most likely thought her statement would carry weight among feminists and point out a huge flaw in Hollywood, she must have forgotten the 1985 film The Color Purple which was led by Whoopi Goldberg. An audience member apparently pointed this out while Banks tried to move on quickly.
Out of 30+ film credits, Spielberg has actually directed three films with female leads: Sugarland Express starring Goldie Hawn, The BFG with young actress Ruby Barnhill, and, of course, the Color Purple, a classic film starring Whoopi Goldberg. While the shocking ratio of male to female leads is obviously disproportionate, people still took great offense to Banks’ statement and rightfully so.
Female leads being a rare find among all the movies produced every year is an issue that needs to be spoken about. Where Banks’ failed with her well-intentioned speech was in her forgetfulness, and The Color Purple is not a film that should be forgotten. Her fact-checking needs to be done properly and should not overlook a film with not only a great story, but black women starring front and center(Oprah Winfrey and Margaret Avery worked alongside Goldberg).
Dismissal is one of the greatest insults, and while Banks does have a point in the lack of female leads, her wording and facts were off which resulted in her coming off as dismissive towards the film and the women in it. Conversation about the issue must continue to get louder until it’s solved, but let us not forget or disrespect the films with female leads, especially when they are women of color.
Banks has since taken responsibility for her words and released this statement on her Instagram, apologizing for disregarding the film and to Shari Belafonte when she attempted to correct her.