Whoopi Goldberg Reflects On The Color Purple’s Oscars Snub In 1984 And The Backlash Led By NAACP And Spike Lee

by Gee NY

In a recent interview, iconic actress and comedian Whoopi Goldberg opened up about the controversial reception of the film “The Color Purple” in 1984 and the subsequent backlash that cost the production several Oscars.

Goldberg, who played a pivotal role in the film, shared insights into the criticism that surrounded the production at the time, shedding light on racial and industry-related challenges.

“The Color Purple,” directed by Steven Spielberg and written by Menno Meyjes, faced vehement opposition for its portrayal of Black men, which ignited discussions about racial stereotypes and the perpetuation of harmful narratives.

The film, based on Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, delved into the lives of African American women in the early 20th century South.

However, the combination of a White male director and screenwriter drew sharp criticism, with some arguing that the lack of Black voices in these key roles compromised the authenticity of the narrative.

Goldberg singled out movie director Spike Lee and the civil rights organisation, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) as the most critical of the movie in 1984.

“Twelve Oscar nominations and we got not one. Because the NAACP made such a stink about the film. They told people, ‘don’t go see it, ‘boycott it’, but people couldn’t boycott it because so many people had read the book and they wanted to see it…then people were mad that we didn’t make the book exactly,” Goldberg shared.

Goldberg also discussed the complex dynamics at play at the time, raising questions about whether the backlash was rooted in genuine concerns about racial representation or if it also reflected a reluctance within the Black community to confront uncomfortable truths.

The controversy not only impacted the film’s chances at the Oscars but also sparked important conversations about the responsibility of filmmakers in telling diverse and authentic stories.

A recent adaptation of ‘The Color Purple’ produced by Oprah Winfrey exceeded box office expectations, securing the number one spot on its Christmas Day release.

The film, based on the acclaimed Broadway musical of the same name, opened with a staggering $18.15 million, surpassing initial projections and marking the most significant Christmas Day opening since 2009.

Originally projected to earn between $8 million and $12 million, the film’s success soared beyond predictions, creating a buzz that is likely to drive continued strong performance in the days and weeks to come.

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