Elizabeth Banks Apologizes for Criticizing Spielberg about Gender Inequality
Elizabeth Banks has apologized after facing outcry for inaccurately calling out Steven Spielberg on Wednesday night at the Women in Film’s Crystal + Lucy Awards.
Banks, booked to direct the new Charlie’s Angels film, criticized one of Hollywood’s most successful and influential directors for the lack of female representation in his films.
Banks is best known for her roles as Effie Trinket in The Hunger Games series, Gail in the Pitch Perfect series, of which she directed the second film, and for her reoccurring role as Sal, an obnoxious friend of Mitch and Cam on ABC’s Modern Family.
Most recently, Banks played the villain in the Power Rangers film reboot.
The blonde comedian also created WhoHAHA.com, a website geared towards supporting women in comedy.
On Wednesday, Banks was accepting an award for excellence in film when she gave a speech on the gender inequality in Hollywood and the importance of providing more female representation in film.
“We can’t do it by ourselves… It’s our responsibility to bring the men along,” she said.
“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,” said Banks, who Spielberg had directed in his 2002 film Catch Me if You Can.
Hearing this, actress Shari Belafonte called out that Spielberg had directed the 1985 movie The Color Purple. The Oscar nominated film starred Whoopi Goldberg and focused on her character’s life as a black woman in the South during the first forty years of the twentieth century.
“OK… I’m wrong. Ummm… he directed?” Banks clarified, before another guest incorrectly responded that Spielberg had not directed it.
“Oh, so I’m right still,” said Banks, before continuing to discuss the rampant issue of gender inequality in the movie industry.
Since the incident Banks has released an apology statement, but not before Twitter users spoke out criticizing her for forgetting a movie that focuses on the plight of black women in America. Moreover, many consider The Color People to be incredibly influential for people of color in Hollywood.
Banks’ forgetfulness, many claim, is another example of hypocritical cries for diversity in Hollywood.
Yes, the movie industry needs to focus on improving its ratio of men to women in front of and behind the cameras; but equally important is the lack of representation and roles for people of color.
Calling for gender equality is rendered pointless if one is only looking to remember the importance of casting white women in films.
On her Twitter account, Banks released a lengthy apology. She admits that she “framed [her] comments about [Spielberg’s] 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 importance of the iconic #TheColorPurple. I made things worse by giving the impression that I was dismissing Shari Belafonte when she attempted to correct me,” said Banks, “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,” Banks finished.
— Elizabeth Banks (@ElizabethBanks) June 15, 2017
Spielberg has not yet acknowledged Banks’ original statement or apology. Spielberg’s rep, Marvin Levy, told The Hollywood Reporter that the director could not be reached as he is currently working on his next project: The Papers, which Meryl Streep is slated to lead.
In all fairness to Banks, Spielberg has directed 30 films and only 3 of those have included women as the main protagonist. The Color Purple starred Whoopi Goldberg, The Sugarland Express starred Goldie Hawn, and The BFG starred 12-year-old Ruby Barnhill.
As one of the most revered directors in Hollywood, if Spielberg had decided to make more projects starring women he could have helped reverse the stigma against women in film.
Hopefully in the future when Banks continues to fight for female empowerment in film she will remember to speak for the representation of all women, not just her race.
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