3 of Steven Spielberg's 30 films have female leads. Elizabeth Banks isn't here for it.
Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images .

While accepting an award on June 14, Elizabeth Banks had a gutsy message for Hollywood powerhouse Steven Spielberg.

Banks was on stage at the Women in Film Crystal + Lucy Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel when she brought up a sad truth about one of the world's most celebrated directors:

“I went to 'Indiana Jones’ and ‘Jaws’ and every movie Steven Spielberg ever made," Banks said. "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.”

OK, so it's not entirely true. But it's almost true.


Of the 30 films Spielberg's directed, just three have featured female leads (a fourth is in production now), The Wrap reported. Most notably, Banks failed to remember Spielberg was behind the iconic and consequential "The Color Purple" (Twitter users were quick to remind her). He also directed 1974's "The Sugarland Express" and "The BFG," released last year, both of which featured female leads.

The sentiment behind Banks' comment was spot on, however. Spielberg's preference for male-led films isn't unique to him — it's reflective of an industry-wide problem.

Most popular Hollywood films are dominated by male characters, The Washington Post reported in April. It's an issue that'd surely get much better if more women were directing films (men run the show behind the vast majority of movies being made), but women are continuously struggling to be taken seriously as the one helming the ship. The problem is demonstrably worse if you zero in on women of color.

For Banks — who directed "Pitch Perfect 2" and is working on 2019's "Charlie's Angels" — part of the solution starts at home, with the audience.

“Buy a fucking ticket to a movie with a woman," she told parents in the crowd while accepting her award. "Take them, give them the experience of seeing amazing women on film."

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One night in 2018, Sheila and Steve Albers took their two youngest sons out to dinner. Their 17-year-old son, John, was in a crabby mood—not an uncommon occurrence for the teen who struggled with mental health issues—so he stayed home.

A half hour later, Sheila's started getting text messages that John wasn't safe. He had posted messages with suicidal ideations on social media and his friends had called the police to check on him. The Albers immediately raced home.

When they got there, they were met with a surreal scene. Their minivan was in the neighbor's yard across the street. John had been shot in the driver's seat six times by a police officer who had arrived to check on him. The officer had fired two shots as the teen slowly backed the van out of the garage, then 11 more after the van spun around backward. But all the officers told the Albers was that John had "passed" and had been shot. They wouldn't find out until the next day who had shot and killed him.

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via Tom Ward / Instagram

Artist Tom Ward has used his incredible illustration techniques to give us some new perspective on modern life through popular Disney characters. "Disney characters are so iconic that I thought transporting them to our modern world could help us see it through new eyes," he told The Metro.

Tom says he wanted to bring to life "the times we live in and communicate topical issues in a relatable way."

In Ward's "Alt Disney" series, Prince Charming and Pinocchio have fallen victim to smart phone addiction. Ariel is living in a polluted ocean, and Simba and Baloo have been abused by humans.

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How we talk about Black Lives Matter protests across America is often a reflection of how we personally feel about the fight for racial equality itself. We're all biased toward our own preferences and a fractured news media hasn't helped things by skewing facts, emphasizing preferred narratives and neglecting important stories, oftentimes out of fear that they might alienate their increasingly partisan and entrenched audiences.

This has been painfully clear in how we report on and talk about the protests themselves. Are they organized by Antifa and angry mobs of BLM renegades hell bent on the destruction of everything wholesome about America? Or, are they entirely peaceful demonstrations in which only the law enforcement officers are the bad actors? The uncomfortable truth is that both extreme narratives ignore key facts. The overwhelming majority of protests have been peaceful.protests have been peaceful. The facts there are clear. And the police have also provoked acts of aggression against peaceful demonstrators, leading to injuries and unnecessary arrests. Yet, there have been glaring exceptions of vandalism, intimidation and violence in cities like Portland, Seattle, and most recently, Louisville. And while some go so far as to quite literally defend looting, that's a view far outside the mainstream of nearly all Americans across various age, racial and cultural demographics.

But what if we step away from the larger philosophical debate and narrow things down to one very important fact: the vast majority of those stirring division at protests are white.

And if you don't believe me, just listen to Durham, North Carolina's mayor and what he had to say about how white people are "hijacking" Breonna Taylor's legacy and transforming a movement that has suddenly split Americans after having near unanimous support just a few months ago.


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