The recently released movie, ‘The Woman King’ has received backlash across social media platforms over what viewers have described as its supposed attempts at ‘whitewashing’ and ‘downplaying’ Africans’ involvement in the Trans-Atlantic slave trade.
The Woman King is a story of the Agojie, the all-female unit of warriors who protected the African Kingdom of Dahomey in the 1800s with skills and their Amazonian-like fierceness in battle inspired by true events.
Calls for a snub of the movie viewing have been growing in recent days with its own hashtag ‘BoycottTheWomanKing’ becoming an increasing trend on Twitter.
Many Africans have criticized the filmmakers saying they were trying to “rewrite” the sordid past of the Agojie and downplaying the involvement of African slave traders.
However, the movie has dominated the box office and has earned over 19 million dollars starring the Oscar-winning actress Viola Davis.
While the movie has received favourable comments from certain viewers, others have expressed their displeasure at the film production by Sony and the director ‘ Gina Prince-Bythewood’.
A Twitter user, Antonio Moore called the historical epic “the most offensive film to Black Americans in 40-50 years.”
Another Tweet read,
“If you’re a Black American that cares about your ancestors #BoycottTheWomanKing I don’t know
In an interview with Variety, lead Actress Viola Davies and her husband Julius Tenon insisted that the story had to be fictionalized to hit big in the movie industry.
“First of all, I agree with [the film’s director] Gina Prince-Bythewood’s saying is you’re not going to win an argument on Twitter,” she said
“We entered the story where the kingdom was in flux, at a crossroads. They were looking to find some way to keep their civilization and kingdom alive. It wasn’t until the late 1800s that they were decimated. Most of the story is fictionalized. It has to be.”
Tenon noted that a number of people who went to watch the film would not have watched it if it was not made in a way to entertain people.
“We are now what we call “edu-tainment.” It’s history but we have to take licence. We have to entertain people. If we just told a history lesson, which we very well could have, that would be a documentary.”
“Unfortunately, people wouldn’t be in the theatres doing the same thing we saw this weekend. We didn’t want to shy away from the truth. The history is massive and there are truths on that that are there. If people want to learn more, they can investigate more,” he said.