In case you missed it, a great film, “The Woman King,” produced by and starring a Black female Oscar Winner, with an all Black cast, and a roughly 98% all Black crew, was “cancelled” by much of Hollywood in 2023. This is a tragic move for modern cinema, and sends a clear message, that we must not forget.
The Golden Globes at least nominated “The Woman King” star Viola Davis for her stunning role as a revolutionary, powerful female warrior and tribal leader who literally frees slaves and advances Black culture, for Best Actress in a motion picture–Drama. That award instead went to Cate Blanchett, in “Tar.”
Cancel Culture is Based on the Dangerous, Tyrannical Notion that Not Getting One’s Feelings Hurt is More Important than Freedom of Speech
The Golden Globes were literally cancelled by Hollywood for a year, for alleged racism. They gave “The Fableman’s” Best Picture award for a Drama. A fine film, sure. Spielberg never makes a bad picture. But it was no where as important culturally as “The Woman King.”
“The Woman King” clip used with kind courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics ©2022, Sony Pictures Classics
The Los Angeles Times wisely praised the film. Yet most media are not even talking about “The Woman King” getting cancelled. There are at least a few exceptions. Reporter Nsenga K. Burton wrote an article for CNN on September 22nd, 2022 (linked below), about the cancelling of the film. She claims that it most likely happened because Hollywood is still racist, and is still predominantly run by racist white men, who cannot fathom to see Black women in charge, leading a revolution, and winning. Is this true?
Certainly, the opportunity for women after the #MeToo movement, and the opportunity for Black artists after the Black Lives Matter movement, has never been greater. Yet however, racism and sexism in Hollywood, and society at large certainly still exists. There is still much work to do in this regard. But is this why “The Woman King” got cancelled?
The organization that runs the Oscars–The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, is headed by board members of which many are great, powerful, and talented women. It is also comprised of a number of great, powerful, and talented male and female Black board members, including for example–Whoopi Goldberg. So is it really accurate to say the Academy are sexist or racist? No, it’s not. It’s something different than that when it comes to the cancelling of “The Woman King.” And the reason that appears to be most evident is–a twitter mob!
That’s right, a group of twitter users called for a boycott of the film, mainstream news picked up on it, and evidently, some people at the Academy either agreed with the sentiments, or more likely–got worried about the negative PR flack. After all, considering the downward trend in viewership of The Oscars over the past few years, and bad PR thanks to Will Smith’s crazy assault of Chris Rock in front of all of the Oscar viewing world to see, they may have been feeling a little sensitive. That makes sense, but it doesn’t make it fair to the filmmakers of “The Women King.” (On a side note, viewership was way up for the Oscars this year).
The reason the twitter mob supposedly got their feelings hurt, and decided to try destroy much of the PR power of a great Black film, are painfully stupid. One claimed that Dahomey, Africa did not deserve to have any films made about it! Seriously?! Since when do we let unknown twitter trolls dictate what films get promoted to the world from Hollywood? Well, evidently now, it happens.
“The Woman King” lightly touched on the fact that some Black African tribes also participated in the slavery of other Blacks. But this was evidently too much truth for the twitter mob.
Lies About The Woman King
Another twitter user claimed that the film advocated for slavery! That is an insane notion. They must have not even seen the film! The film clearly condemns slavery in the strongest sense. On the contrary, it is a fictionalized story about fighting slavery! It is also partially about a matriarchal tribe fighting their neighboring tribe of male warriors, and crushing them! How is this message not supported?
Whether parts of the film are based on history in an accurate manner or not–which was also complained about in some tweets–is irrelevant. The film does not claim to be a documentary film. It’s not! Yet indeed, parts of it are based on fact. Yet these are facts that some people can’t handle.
We don’t do any favors to the Black community when we cover up history, and lie, and don’t admit that slavery was something that has existed in many cultures.
The surest way to continue having an undesirable reality, is to fail to acknowledge it.
Oscar Winning star Viola Davis produced and starred in “The Woman King,” one of the most important films of our time. It is a film not only about Black power, and female power, but also that lightly touches on the African Traditional Religion of Ifa. In fact, it is the first feature film in history to ever portray one of the African Traditional Religions, without racist stereotypes.
That’s three powerful combinations of a story, told with a positive, spirit-filled message of hope, faith, dignity, justice, self-empowerment, and love. But yet the film was shamefully ignored by much of Hollywood. It was totally ignored by The Oscars.
Those in our film industry that actually are not racist, that don’t embrace the Black movement as mere corporate tokenism, and those that dare think for themselves and stand for the truth–rather than weakly seek to placate foolish enemies of free speech, have a responsibility to advocate for this film. Jimmy Kimmel at least mentioned at The Oscars, that it is a film worth seeing. But Hollywood can do better than that. And audiences deserve a reason why it was ignored, and to be assured something like this never happens again.
About the Woman King
The Woman King is the remarkable story of the Agojie, the all-female unit of warriors who protected the African Kingdom of Dahomey in the 1800s with skills and a fierceness unlike anything the world has ever seen. Inspired by true events, The Woman King follows the emotionally epic journey of General Nanisca (Oscar®-winner Viola Davis) as she trains the next generation of recruits and readies them for battle against an enemy determined to destroy their way of life. Some things are worth fighting for.
Directed by: Gina Prince-Bythewood
Story by: Maria Bello and Dana Stevens
Screenplay by: Dana Stevens
Produced by: Cathy Schulman
Executive Producer: Peter McAleese
Cast: Viola Davis
Hero Fiennes Tiffin
and John Boyeg
If you have not yet seen “The Woman King,” do so. And tell your friends and family to as well. And above all, stand up for the truth, even when it’s not popular. You will be on the right side, when future generations look back and study our time.
1, CNN, https://www.cnn.com/2022/09/22/opinions/the-woman-king-history-misogyny-burton/index.html