Harvey Weinstein and Steven Spielberg’s Black Men are “Soulless Monsters”

When I informed some prominent Black men, among them Academic and Media stars, that convicted serial rapist Harvey Weinstein was co-producer of the musical version of the recently released film, “The Color Purple,” they were shocked. A couple disputed my report. I directed them to Bloomberg News, which reported Weinstein’s involvement. Was Alice Walker aware of his involvement? What about feminist Marsha Norman, who wrote the book for the musical?

Alissa Wilkinson writes in The New York Times,Dec. 19,2023:

“… while this adaptation at least gives the men a little more humanity than previous versions, they still come off as basically soulless monsters. Hollywood movies are ill-suited to this kind of material, and the whole thing inevitably suffers as a result.” I was surprised to see this comment by a Black woman. Until now, those who object to Steven Spielberg’s interpretation of Alice Walker’s novel–her script was rejected in favor of one written by Menno Meyjes, a Dutch screenwriter and film director–have been dismissed as Black male malcontents led by me.

I got in trouble with the Purple Cult when I said on the “Today Show” that the film was the kind that was made about Jews in Nazi Germany. That’s because I attended a lecture presented by the San Francisco Holocaust Museum, which compared the similarity between the way the Nazis depicted Jewish men and how Black men are shown in  American films.

I was supposed to talk about my novel, Reckless Eyeballing, but one of the Today Show’s programmers, a Black woman, ambushed me with a debate about “The Color Purple.” My debating partner was journalist Clarence Page, who boasted about flying around the country defending the film. My book was not discussed. When I asked why, the programmer said, “WE DIDN’T GUARANTEE THAT YOUR BOOK WOULD BE MENTIONED!!!” I wondered whether St. Martin’s Press ever complained to NBC. They flew me in and paid for the hotel, ground transportation, and meals so I could talk about my book on the show.

After my appearance on the Today Show, I was threatened with a boycott by white feminists led by Prof. Emily Toth. When I arrived at the site of the boycott, the University of Louisiana at Baton Rouge, I was told that the boycott collapsed because, when questioned, none of the women had read my books.

I’m cited as one of the few Black men criticizing Spielberg’s interpretation of Ms. Walker’s novel in Jump Cut, a film magazine. In the magazine, Prof. Jacqueline Bobo said that I called “The Color Purple” “a Nazi Conspiracy.” Wrong. In two articles, I’m the villain: in The New Republic and The Village Voice, where I’m not only a misogynist but a homophobe; in The Nation, I’m just a misogynist. A hatchet job on my novel, The Terrible Twos. was commissioned by Elizabeth Pochoda, who got her job there because she knew Philip Roth. In two books, In Search of the Color Purple: The Story of an American Masterpiece, by Salamishah Tillet–she makes light of Walker’s association with Holocaust denier David Ickes– Tillet repeats the Jump Cut lie. In Gathering Blossoms Under Fire: The Journals of Alice Walker, 1965-2000, edited by the late Valerie Boyd, I’m also the heavy.

In a Ms. magazine article by Barbara Smith, whose scholarship is even worse than some of my other critics, I was cited as the ring leader of those who dissented against the film “The Color Purple.” At the time, Ms. was financed by a white patriarch group, Lang Communications. The other magazines and books where my comments are rendered falsely are owned by patriarchs. When The Village Voice dumped on me, it was carrying ads for  Backpage.com, where men could make dates with underage girls. The ads didn’t seem to bother the feminists who had editorial positions. A Black feminist told me that the Voice’s feminist editors were constantly goading her to attack Black men.

In the Boyd book, Ms. Walker even repeats a scurrilous rumor about my late mother, Thelma V. Reed, who wrote as well as Ms. Walker but didn’t have a powerful patron, like Gloria Steinem, whose connections to the CIA, according to Harriet Fraad, have never been clarified. (Check out my mother’s memoir, Black Girl From Tannery Flats.)

In an important, overlooked interview with author Cecil Brown published in The Massachusetts Review, Toni Morrison says that Walker’s novel, The Color Purple, would have been forgotten without Gloria Steinem’s promotion. My mother was a working-class woman who raised four children, all achievers. Single-handedly, my mother organized two strikes in Buffalo, New York, that improved the working conditions of Black women. Not once did my mother have a conversation with a horse.

The fact that the Purple cult would take a swipe at my mother shows that they are not to be crossed and play for keeps. None of those magazine and book editors fact-checked the statements made about me by The Purple Cult. Profs. Jacqueline Bobo and Salamishah Tillet have yet to answer my emails offering corrections of their false comments about my position on “Purple.” Victoria Bond’s editor, Chloë Schama, refused to print my letter challenging Ms. Bond, who repeated the Jump Cut lie that I called “Purple” the result of a Nazi conspiracy.

One of the cult members, the late June Jordan, told a radio audience that I tried to prevent the novel from being taught in public schools. That is not true; I supported the teaching of the book. She apologized.

Walker told a feminist audience that I was stalking her. No, Spielberg, who has gotten into trouble for maligning Indian and Chinese Americans in his films, is stalking Black men. The late comedian Paul Mooney said he expected a “Color Purple” on ice.

With Alissa Wilkinson calling the Black men in the movie, “Soulless Monsters,” she joins bell hooks, Michele Wallace, and Toni Morrison, who said that Black men had been singled out to take the rap for misogyny, Sonia Sanchez, and Trudier Harris, who said that when she criticized the book there was such a backlash from white feminists, she stopped talking about it. Former Black Panther Elaine Brown challenged Walker’s homophobia in The New York Times.

The portrayal of Purple critics as disgruntled Black men led by me, instead of including dissent from Black feminists, was part of a marketing strategy. Walker said I hated Black women writers. I’ve published many of them. Some of whom were little known when I published them. I’ve published Black women from England, Nigeria, Ghana, and South Africa. My agent is a Black woman. One of my London publishers is a Black woman. My last four awards, including this year’s Hurston/Wright Foundation’s North Star award, were presented to me by organizations managed by Black women.

When asked about Harvey Weinstein’s participation, Spielberg refused to comment.

It’s bad enough that 20 percent of Black men are Trump supporters, but they are buying tickets to a movie in which they are shown as “soulless Monsters.” Isn’t that like Black men investing in souvenirs sold at their lynchings? Because he objected to the depiction of Black men by academic feminists, Tommy Curry couldn’t find work in the United States. He found a job at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.

I asked him what he thought of the contradiction of Black men thrilled by a film in which Black men are portrayed as “soulless monsters.” He wrote: “The market for anti-Black misandry is as lucrative in Hollywood as it is in academia.”

Notes

The Making Of The Color Purple

Bloomberg

https://www.bloomberg.com › news › articles › the-m…

… co-produced the movie and is a friend of Furman’s, joined as a producer. Film producers Bob and Harvey Weinstein got involved, as did businessman Gary Winnick

https://www.indiewire.com/features/general/steven-spielberg-refuses-harvey-weinstein-talk-spielberg-premiere-1201884429/

Ishmael Reed’s latest play is “The Conductor.”