Elizabeth Banks was loud and wrong. The actress who’s graced us with roles in The Muppets, Magic Mike XXL, Robot Chicken and The 40-Year-Old Virgin was recently honored by Women in Film.
For her speech, she decided to have a Patricia Arquette moment and advocate for more women leads in film.
“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,” Banks told the crowd at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, as reported by The Wrap.
Unfortunately, before she could finish her rousing speech, someone let her know that in 1985 Spielberg directed The Color Purple, to which Banks “moved on.”
It should be noted that out of the 30 feature films Spielberg has made, three of them have had female leads: The Sugarland Express (1974) starring Goldie Hawn, The Color Purple (1985) starring Whoopi Goldberg, and last year’s The BFG starring child actress Ruby Barnhill. Spielberg is also directing The Papers starring Meryl Streep, due in 2018.
But out of all three female-led films, The Color Purple is the most iconic telling the harrowing story of a Black woman escaping oppression in a post-reconstruction South. It was also Oprah Winfrey‘s acting debut. And Banks seeing “every movie” Spielberg’s made, but forgetting this one, is a blatant reminder that White women often don’t consider the double-plight of Black women, our accomplishments and our stories.
Once the news made itself to Twitter, movie critic Anne Thompson doubled down on Banks’ mistake by allegedly saying The Color Purple was a flop— a tweet she’s since deleted.
And that’s where Twitter went off.
For the record, The Color Purple —despite its low first-weekend sales— was nominated for 10 Academy Awards and won an Emmy. Its budget was $15 million but globally grossed $146 million. And despite certain critics’ poor reviews at the time, it’s considered a classic film in the African American community.