For some reason, in 1985 Steven Spielberg—now director of such fine films as Hook and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull—was asked to direct the film version of Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. He then proceeded to squash all the lesbian eroticism and sex between the book’s characters Shug Avery and Celie into one tender kiss. And if given a second chance, Spielberg said he’d still leave out all the lesbian sex… just to snag a PG-13 rating… or something.
Here’s his explanation:
“There were certain things in the [lesbian] relationship between Shug Avery and Celie that were very finely detailed in Alice’s book, that I didn’t feel we could get a [PG-13] rating,” Spielberg tells EW’s Anthony Breznican. “And I was shy about it. In that sense, perhaps I was the wrong director to acquit some of the more sexually honest encounters between Shug and Celie, because I did soften those. I basically took something that was extremely erotic and very intentional, and I reduced it to a simple kiss. I got a lot of criticism for that. I wouldn’t [do it differently now], no. That kiss is consistent with the tonality, from beginning to end, of The Color Purple that I adapted.”
Even though we never get to see Whoopi Goldberg and Margaret Avery get it on, The Color Purple is still a pretty good flick. And if Spielberg were to direct it again in 2011 (God forbid), he would probably replace the lesbian scenes with a bunch of clairvoyant children who come in contact with an alien that no adults seem to believe in. He’d also use Tom Cruise and a bunch of emotionally manipulative music—Oscar gold, my friends.