Culture

Elizabeth Banks Calls Out Steven Spielberg On His Female Roles, But She Made One Big Error

by Penn Collins

June 16, 2017

Speaking at Women in Film’s Crystal + Lucy Awards show earlier this week, Elizabeth Banks knowingly kicked a hornet’s nest when she took a shot at Hollywood legend Steven Spielberg’s lack of female leads. Speaking onstage, Banks took the director to task: “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 isn’t wrong in putting a spotlight on Spielberg’s woeful underrepresentation of female leads, but her statement is untrue. As Shari Belafonte mentioned during the ceremony, there’s no way to argue Spielberg’s 1985 work The Color Purple doesn’t have a female a lead. Whoopi Goldberg was nominated for the Best Actress Oscar. Banks seemed to gloss over Belafonte’s addendum but has since apologized for the inaccuracy in her comment and her dismissal of her peer’s correction. 

The carefully worded statement is contrite for the error but doesn’t yield on the spirit of her statement. 

The Hollywood Reporter has contacted Spielberg for a reaction to the assessment and the factual error but hasn’t yet received a response. Currently, Spielberg is filming The Papers with Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep, which may stand on its own as a de facto rebuttal. 

Glossing over The Color Purple, of all Spielberg’s films, tended to raise an eyebrow among critics who thought the inaccuracy may be indicative of a skewed approach to diversity. 

Others support Banks’ poorly framed criticism. 

And some responses equate to “Well, she was wrong, but she’s not wrong.”

If Spielberg doesn’t respond, this will likely fade from the headlines quickly. But if he does...oh, boy. 

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Elizabeth Banks Calls Out Steven Spielberg On His Female Roles, But She Made One Big Error