October 5, 2022

Opinion: What the calls to boycott ‘The Woman King’ are really saying

4 min read

Imagine my excitement — as a black woman named after a controversial African queen — for a fearless unit of female warriors determined to protect the West African kingdom of Dahomey for more than 200 years. To watch a Hollywood movie about

Inspired by true events, “The Woman King” was directed by Gina Prince-Bythode and produced by Academy Award-winning actress Viola Davis (who also stars) and veteran actress/producer Maria Bello. And the highly anticipated film grossed. $19 million last weekend During its debut at the domestic box office, I was clearly not alone in my excitement.

The film tells the story of the Agoji, the most powerful all-women army in the history of the world, their unparalleled commitment to their country, to each other and to their King Gezo, exceptionally portrayed by John Boyega. has paid

But There are calls for a boycott. The film because, to its critics (even those who are not calling for a boycott), it minimizes the role of the Dahomey Kingdom in the Atlantic slave trade. In his view, the fictional film, inspired by true events, does not tease out enough about a horrific history — the abduction and sale of Africans by the Dahomey and Oyo kingdoms — in the film’s narrative arc, a subplot, when That the main story centers on a group of rugged African women, who must live, love and work together to ensure their people remain free.
The Dahomey period is the most intense Involvement in the slave trade This involved the smuggling of West Africans in the late 17th and early 18th centuries, mainly captives who were then enslaved overseas by European traders. The real King Gizo finally agreed to end Dahomey’s participation in the slave trade in 1852 under pressure from the British government (which had abolished slavery in 1833).
How the 'Woman King' Created a Hot and Epic Dahomey Kingdom for the Big Screen

However, the Atlantic slave trade is hardly overlooked in the film. At the beginning of the film, Davies’ character Naneska admonishes the king for allowing his people — and other Africans — to get involved in business. She spends the entire film talking about how selling out your own people is wrong and offers an alternative to brutality. The climax of the film involves the freeing of the Agoji Africans who were about to be taken to the New World.

Isn’t it interesting that some of the loudest calls for boycotts are black. Where were similar calls for films like “12 Years a Slave,” “Django Unchained” or “The Good Lord Bird” — films about the slave trade for their characters, stories and the institution of slavery itself? Too much creative license given in photography?

There is inherent value in a film about a dynamic group of black women fighters who many have not heard of, from a largely off-the-map West African state, challenging the notion of male supremacy. she does. The film’s controversies only fuel the need for more people to see it, and talk about it.

Why can't we turn away from 'gone with the wind'
Meanwhile, critics demanding a more realistic representation of the slave trade may direct their energies elsewhere: they may focus on the fact, for example School systems Across America Steps are being taken To Erase his reality and legacy. from the syllabus. Or that many Americans dismiss it as “no big deal” when the conversation about slavery turns to reparations. Or that there is a slave trade. Historically misrepresented. Over 100 years in television and film — see film classics like “The Birth of a Nation” (1915) or “Gone with the Wind” (1939) or the TV classics “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” (1987) and “Roots” (1977).

I suspect that much of the criticism and much of the effort to suppress this film is about its portrayal of truly powerful black women warriors who fight and win battles in a Hollywood that is still overwhelmingly white and male. are Not just in the film, but in the reality of its creation, and the audience it has already garnered, black women are winning — and the trolls who oppose the film are losing.

As much as it is about anything else, “The Woman King” is about the perilous journey of black women — and the obstacles they face — to find freedom and self-determination in a world Misogyny and misogynoir reign supreme..

“The Woman King” is a masterpiece in the tradition of such classics as “Spartacus” (1960), “Braveheart” (1995) and “The Gladiator” (2000). The difference is that black women are at the center of the action, both on screen and behind the camera. It’s a difference that only makes the film more worth watching.

Hollywood has spent most of its existence. Dismissing the talents of black women. The attempt by some to erase his work in “The Woman King” is sad. But it shouldn’t work — and it won’t. Anyone who finds the film’s portrayal of the slave trade difficult should watch it anyway — and then engage in a lively discussion about what worked, what didn’t, and how to do it more accurately. Can be presented.

There is intellectual and cultural value, even — or perhaps especially — in conflict and contradiction.

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