Miss Celie’s Blues

There’s nothing like hopping on Twitter and finding out that one of the greatest movies of my childhood . . . Correction, one of the greatest movies ever made; not only didn’t feature a women lead but was also a flop.

Huh!?

Erased, Again

While accepting an award from Women in Film, Elizabeth Banks put Steven Spielberg on blast for not making movies with female leads. While you can count them on one hand, Elizabeth put her foot in in it because Spielberg HAS directed movies with female leads. Not only has he directed movies with female leads, he directed The Color Purple, the fourth top grossing film of 1985–which stars a black woman. To make matters worse, when an audience member mentioned he directed The Color Purple, Banks ignored the correction.

Wait a minute; it would not have killed her to say “I stand corrected” and continue getting into Spielberg’s ass, but instead she dismissed that truth. Why? Did The Color Purple not have a woman lead? Was it not directed by Steven Spielberg? Admitting he directed the movie would not have lessened her point. But ignoring it diminished the fact that a black woman was a lead in one of his films – one that happened to be based on a novel written by a black woman. It also insinuates black women (and other women of color) are either not women or less than.

Oh by the way, Spielberg produced Memoirs of a Geisha. Does that not count because he didn’t direct it or because the women leads were Asian?

Flop? 

To add insult to injury, while pointing one of the few movies Spielberg directed with women leads, was a flop, Anne Thompson of “Indie Wire” tweeted The Color Purple was a flop. Whaaaat? Mind you, she later corrected herself and aplogized, but she had already pressed forward by stating the film only made $41 million. In reality The Color Purple grossed over $98 million in the US and $146 million worldwide. Considering it was made with a $15 million budget, that’s a pretty damn good take for a flop. Well, I guess tomato, to-mah-to. Side note: It took the wrath of Black Twitter to get that correction.

Here’s the thing; even if The Color Purple was a flop, what was the purpose in pointing that out? To prove that movies with black women leads aren’t successful? To say that it shouldn’t be counted because it “was a flop”? Was pointing that out meant to minimize the success of one of the few Spielberg movies that featured women leads because it was a black woman in the lead?

I checked IMDB and saw that Spielberg directed at least two movies with women leads; The Sugarland Express starring Goldie Hawn and The Color Purple starring Whoopi Goldberg. I guess you can include Always if you want. Hmm, I always thought Richard Dreyfuss was the lead but whatever. Anyway of the three films, The Color Purple had the biggest box office success, plus it received 11 Academy Award nominations and five Golden Globe nominations. In 1986, Whoopi Goldberg won the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama. That’s the category for the female lead, in case you’re wondering.

 

A Win for Women?

I don’t get why every time white women in Hollywood gripe about the difficulties of representation for women – how hard it is for women to get lead roles or get jobs behind the camera – they always exclude women of color. NEWS FLASH: as hard as it is for white women to make it in Hollywood, it’s even harder for women of color.

I get it. Rant on about Steven Spielberg’s choices not to direct films that feature lead roles for women. Hell, go after other men directors and the rest of Hollywood for the crappy treatment of women, but dammit stop dismissing the aspirations of women of color trying to make it in the industry. They freaking exist, too. And they aren’t going anywhere.

White feminist always call on women of color to join the fight, but they don’t seem too willing to share the rewards of a well fought battle. These women need to get over themselves because it’s getting tiresome.

 

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