On Tuesday night, Elizabeth Banks accepted the Crystal Award for Excellence in Film at the 2017 Crystal + Lucy Awards in Los Angeles. During her acceptance speech, she pointed out the lack of good female roles available in Hollywood. It didn’t go as well as she probably hoped.
As an example to show how good and plentiful the roles are for men, Elizabeth singled out the work of Steven Spielberg, who has directed more than 30 feature films. Lots of them have been about men and had male leads.
“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. Sorry, Steven. I don’t mean to call your ass out, but it’s true.”
Except that’s not true. Entertainment Tonight says that someone in the audience called her ass out by shouting: “The Color Purple.” Elizabeth quickly acknowledged the suggestion by saying: “Okay, The Color Purple, okay, I’m wrong,” before moving on with her speech. It didn’t end there. The internet soon pounced on Elizabeth and dragged her for doing Celie like that.
So when black women talk about representation and problematic white feminism, it's stuff like this where black women are all but invisible. pic.twitter.com/DgiUMb163j
— Melanie Dione (@beauty_jackson) June 15, 2017
ELIZABETH BANKS: Steven Spielberg never made a movie with a female lead
AUDIENCE MEMBER: He made "The Color Purple"
ELIZABETH BANKS: pic.twitter.com/gHTjKZS2C4
— Eric Haywood (@EricHaywood) June 15, 2017
Elizabeth Banks would be outraged if someone erased Hillary Clinton's legacy. But did so with ease when it came to Whoopi Goldberg
— Stephanie. (@qsteph) June 15, 2017
Not only are the leads in The Color Purple women, but so is the lead in The Sugarland Express (Goldie Hawn). You could also technically count the lead of The BFG (it’s a little girl who befriends the giant). Although Elizabeth is not the first to make this argument. Last year, Juliette Binoche admitted she turned down the role of Dr. Ellie Sattler in Jurassic Park because she didn’t like how few female leads Spielberg’s films had.
Overlooking Whoopi Goldberg in The Color Purple is the kind of crime that I would hope has brought deep shame upon Elizabeth. But maybe using Spielberg was a bad example. He might not direct that many films with female leads, but he’s giving middle-aged dads everywhere what they want: long Oscar-bait movies about wars and spies starring Tom Hanks. Dads need movies to put on while they fall asleep on the couch too, Elizabeth.