It was meant to be so straightforward for Elizabeth Banks, the actress/director/activist.
Speaking at the Women in Film Crystal + Lucy Awards after receiving the Excellence in Film Award, the Hunger Games and Spider-Man actress and director of Pitch Perfect 2 thought she would draw more attention to her female empowerment message by calling out Steven Spielberg, the God of Hollywood directors, for having failed to make any movies with female leads.
Banks said: “We can’t do it by ourselves. We need dudes. We need the guys. It’s our responsibility to bring the men along. 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.”
Actually it’s not true. Spielberg directed The Color Purple starring Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey which was a big deal back in 1985. Also Sugarland Express and last year’s The BFG arguably both have female leads.
And who knows if the T-Rex in Jurassic Park, Jaws or even ET were female?
After she slammed Spielberg, Banks was criticized by an irate attendee, Sheri Belafonte, who shouted at her: “The Color Purple,” to which Banks replied, “OK, I was wrong. But he didn’t direct it, he produced it.” Actually Spielberg directed it and she made things even worse by saying, “I stand by it.”
Black Twitter was furious at Bank’s Spielberg slight interpreting it as a sign that Banks was ignoring people of color:
Do you have any idea what The Color Purple, a movie about Southern poor Black women finding their voices, means culturally for Black women? pic.twitter.com/MWxJ1wFdxh
— Evette Dionne 🤔 (@freeblackgirl) June 15, 2017
Black women are NEVER part of the conversation when White actresses or white women writers talk about women representation in Hollywood. https://t.co/oTRIDhOseM
— Rebecca Theodore (@FilmFatale_NYC) June 15, 2017
Banks has now apologized: “I messed up. When referring to Steven Spielberg at the Women in Film awards, I framed my comments about his films inaccurately. I want to be clear from the start that I take full responsibility for what I said and I’m sorry.
“When I made the comments, I was thinking of recent films Steven directed, it was not my intention to dismiss the import of the iconic #TheColorPurple. I made things worse by giving the impression that I was dismissing Shari Belafonte when she attempted to correct me. I spoke with Shari backstage and she was kind enough to forgive me.
“Those who have the privilege and honor of directing and producing films should be held to account for our mistakes, whether it’s about diversity or inaccurate statements. I’m very sorry.”
She hasn’t apologized for telling Hollywood to be ‘more woke’.
True to form Hillary Clinton herself paid fulsome tribute to Banks at the same event pronouncing: “You’re not only a creative force in front of the camera and behind it, you are a passionate advocate for women’s equality and opportunity; I can vouch for that.”
A passionate apologist it seems as well.