Since its premiere in December 1985, THE COLOR PURPLE provoked constant controversy, debate, and appraisals of its effects on the image of Black people in this country.
The film also incited a face-off between Black feminist critics and Black male reviewers. The women defend the work, or more precisely, defend Alice Walker’s book and the right of the film to exist. Black males vehemently denounce both works and cite the film’s stereotypical representations. In the main, adverse criticisms have revolved around three issues: that the film does not examine class, that Black men are portrayed unnecessarily as harsh and brutal; the consequences of this will be to further the split between the Black female and the Black male; that Black people as a whole are depicted as perverse, sexually wanton, and irresponsible.