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Steve McQueen Read ‘Widows’ Reviews and Detected a Racism Problem

The Oscar winner noticed something problematic while reading the reviews for his new heist-thriller.

Steve McQueen

Steve McQueen and the cast of “Widows”

James Gourley/Shutterstock

Steve McQueen is once again earning acclaim from film critics, this time for his Viola Davis-starring heist drama “Widows.” The film currently boasts an impressive 95% on Rotten Tomatoes from over 130 reviews, and it turns out McQueen has been reading what critics have to say about his latest directorial offering. The director recently told BuzzFeed that in paying close attention to “Widows” reviews he’s noticed film criticism has a problem with inherent racism and sexism.

“Through the critique of this movie, I’ve seen sexism in a way and racism in a way, which is interesting, even if it’s a positive review,” McQueen said. “People don’t even notice that, but when you’ve got 90% of the critics are white males, that’s what happens.”

“Widows” features a cast dominated by women and actors and actresses of color, which has made it clear to McQueen while reading reviews of the film that subtle racism and sexism is very much a real problem film critics needs to be aware of and correct. McQueen said the problem should be a rallying call for a more inclusive field of film reviewers.

“We need more women directors. We need more black directors,” McQueen said. “We need more of a diversity across the board of representations within movies as well as critics.”

McQueen’s comment is just the latest example of a high-profile industry voice championing more inclusive film criticism this year. Brie Larson made headlines over the summer for a speech she gave at the Crystal + Lucy Awards in which she pointed out how most of the reviews for Ava DuVernay’s “A Wrinkle in Time” were written by older white men, a perspective she personally didn’t care for in regards to the respective title.

“Widows” begins with the image of Viola Davis and Liam Neeson in bed together sharing an onscreen kiss. McQueen told Buzzfeed the scene is important as it tries to “amplify a mixed-race couple kissing in a way that their tongues onscreen is the first image. If you saw it in the street you wouldn’t think twice of it but somehow on the big screen it sort of amplifies and magnetizes what that is.”

Racially charged moments like these in “Widows” benefit from having an inherent perspective that, as McQueen alluded to in his comments, a majority of white male critics lack. “Widows” opens in theaters nationwide November 16 from 20th Century Fox.

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