Internet users criticise the film The Woman King for ignoring the involvement in slavery of the kingdom of Dahomey, a monarchy formerly located in the south of present-day Benin. Viola Davis, who plays the lead role, defends the film.
Viola Davis goes into warrior mode. The producer and actress is the lead in The Woman King, which she is defending wholeheartedly against Twitter haters. The film tells the true story of the Agojie, the group of female Amazons who formed the bodyguard of the king of Dahomey. This ancient monarchy in the south of present-day Benin played an important role in the 19th century slave trade.
The hashtag #BoycottWomanKing appeared on Twitter as soon as the film was released in the United States on 16 September. For Internet users, the story is not historically accurate. The film does not deal enough with the involvement of the kingdom of Dahomey in slavery.
In an interview with Variety, Viola Davis, takes her role as a general warrior by starting with: "First of all, you can't win a debate on Twitter. She goes on to justify the film's storyline: "We begin our story at a time when the kingdom was in flux. The leaders were looking for a way to keep their civilisation alive. And then, most of the story is fictional."
Racism in Hollywood
Her husband, Julius Tennon, also a producer, adds that "[the film] is meant to entertain people. If we wanted to give a history lesson, it would have been a documentary. If people want to learn more, they can always do research".
Viola Davis also raises another issue: racism in Hollywood. For the moment, The Woman King is triumphing at the American box office, with some 19 million dollars in revenue. This good news is feeding the haters, according to the actress, who returned to the boycott of the film at the Toronto festival earlier this month. "You're sending a message that black women can't top the box office," the Oscar-winning actress said.
The film will be available in French cinemas from 28 September.
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