In more “reading Zoe Saldana’s Nina film for filth” news, director of the 2015’s ‘The Amazing Nina Simone” had some words for Bob Johnson, BET founder and producer of the film.
“Robert Johnson’s defense of his film Nina was not only insulting, it was 100% wrong,” Jeff L. Lieberman wrote in a guest column for The Hollywood Reporter.
He went on to write, “I am saddened by the ugly and inaccurate portrayal contained in the script and trailer of Nina and by Mr. Johnson’s desperate attempt to defend the project. Since Mr. Johnson is a Black man who lived through the 1960s, I am surprised he does not know what Nina Simone stood for, both for herself and for the hundreds of thousands of people she inspired along the way.”
Lieberman also pointed out that the producers could have addressed the colorism controversy head on by acknowledging that while they knew Nina fought against this notion that she was “too Black,” choosing Zoe, a woman of color with fairer features, was the best choice for them. But instead as Lieberman pointed out, they dismissed those critiques and just “dressed [Saldana] up (poorly) in blackface makeup and prosthetics, ignoring the horrible history of this type of portrayal.”
Yeah, he went in.
Lieberman called Johnson’s claim that this was just “Black people versus Black people” “outrageous, and a desperate distraction.” But most important, he took issue with the fact that the film chose to ignore Simone’s greatest achievements to focus on the singer’s bleakest times toward the end of her life. And act that Lieberman says is “whitewashing” the accomplishments one of the greatest singers of all time.
In addition, he accused the filmmakers of filling the script with inaccuracies and fake drama in order to sell Simone’s story. “The trailer for Nina reveals Ms. Saldana as Nina brandishing a gun, being strapped down in a hospital and throwing champagne bottles. Where there wasn’t truth, they invented it — turning Ms. Simone’s assistant, Clifton Henderson (played by David Oyelowo), into a love interest, despite the fact that he was an out gay man,” he wrote.
Nina is set to hit theaters in April, but with all of this bad press, we wonder will anyone actually go see it.