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Psychologist's 'King Richard' criticism leaves Twitter furious

Jada Pinkett Smith, Will Smith, Willow Smith and Jaden Smith attend the AFI Fest premiere of 'King Richard' (Image via Getty Images/Lisa O'Connor)
Jada Pinkett Smith, Will Smith, Willow Smith and Jaden Smith attend the AFI Fest premiere of 'King Richard' (Image via Getty Images/Lisa O'Connor)
Anupal Sraban Neog

Following the release of King Richard, a woman named Jessica Taylor criticized the movie on social media. The movie is based on Serena and Venus Williams and focuses on their father teaching them tennis. The title is accused of being s*xist.

Jessica Taylor expressed her disappointment with the film in a tweet, saying that while the film is about the success of Serena and Venus Williams, it focuses primarily on their father Richard.

Did they seriously make a film called ‘King Richard’ about the success of Serena and Venus Williams - but it’s about their dad, Richard?

Taylor was also surprised that Serena and Venus were the executive producers of the film. She went on to add that she never expected a film about two powerful and successful Black female athletes to be named after a man or based on a man.


Twitter supports 'King Richard' in response to Jessica Taylor's comments

Although Jessica's latest tweet was supported by a few, it mostly received negative reactions from the public. Here are a few.

@DrJessTaylor Sounds like you aren't really a fan of the Williams sisters. If you were, you'd know why they produced a movie celebrating their father & how they appreciate the sacrifices he made to give his daughter a chance in a discriminatory sport. Of course, you would not understand.
@PrestonMitchum @DrJessTaylor This is ridiculous. It wasn’t a racial at all…it was about shining the light on the Williams sisters instead of their Dad. Any other movies we aren’t allowed to comment on?
@DrJessTaylor I went to college on an NCAA Div 1 scholarship. I have what might be called an unconventional approach in my sport. Had my dad not stuck by me, insisting coaches watch me, literally forcing a team to take me on when I was just 9, my talent may have never developed.
@DrJessTaylor that's what they were honoring - his belief in his vision for his daughters gave the belief in themselves. The film was exquisitely clear that neither parent could or would take full credit for their success, though both had a role. I thought it was perfection.
@DrJessTaylor This shows such an incredible lack of understanding about the Williams sisters and their nuanced story. This isn’t a situation where we are celebrating a man to the detriment of two women’s greatness. This is about what Richard achieved despite incredible resistance. 1/2
@DrJessTaylor What Richard did drastically changed tennis, opportunities for BIPOC people in sport, particularly women—Richard quite literally changed the face of sport and how athletes are groomed in general, ffs. This is Venus and Serena’s love letter to their dad. Let them have it. 2/2
@DrJessTaylor WW really need to be careful here. Richard’s NATURAL business savvy, skill & passion are how they got where they are. Venus & Serena weren’t the only ones who had to navigate white supremacy here. This feels…icky. Consider all sides please.
@DrJessTaylor "That's it really" ??? We're so sorry it's not the film YOU wanted to see, but instead it the one the actual Williams sisters wanted to make, about their own father. Why is it that as a white woman you know better than the two powerful Black women you say are amazing?
@DrJessTaylor You call Venus and Serena powerful and amazing, but apparently think you know better than them about how their story and lives should be told?

However, critics also highlighted the fact that Will Smith, who plays the role of Richard Williams, had the most screen time in King Richard. Meanwhile, Serena and Venus mentioned in certain interviews that they wanted to focus on the role their father played in their lives and express how thankful they feel for him.


About psychologist Jessica Taylor

Dr. Jessica Taylor is a psychologist, feminist author and campaigner. Taylor was a Senior Lecturer in Forensic and Criminological Psychology at the University of Derby.

I get this has annoyed people but I genuinely didn’t expect a film about two of the most powerful, successful and amazing black female athletes to be named after a man, or centre a man. I would have loved this film to be all about them, and not a man. That’s it really.

She initially volunteered to help domestic violence victims and then earned her Bachelor of Science Honors degree in psychology. She then co-founded The Eaton Foundation with Alex Eaton, a male mental health and wellbeing center in the UK.

Taylor then founded an organization called VictimFocus, which addressed victim-blaming practices in several fields. She was also shortlisted for the Emma Humphreys Memorial Prize in 2017 and 2018 and earned her PhD in forensic psychology from the University of Birmingham in 2019.


'King Richard' release date, cast, streaming platform and more

'King Richard' cast members pose on the red carpet on arrival for a special screening of the film (Image via Getty Images/Daniel Leal)
'King Richard' cast members pose on the red carpet on arrival for a special screening of the film (Image via Getty Images/Daniel Leal)

Directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green and written by Zach Baylin, King Richard is a biographical drama film. It focuses on the life of Richard Williams, father and coach of tennis players, Venus and Serena Williams.

Apart from Will Smith playing the title role, the film also stars Saniyya Sidney as Venus Williams and Demi Singleton as Serena Williams. Other cast members include Aunjanue Ellis, Tony Goldwyn, Jon Bernthal, Dylan McDermott, Mikayla LaShae Bartholomew, Andy Bean, Kevin Dunn and others.

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The film features Beyoncé’s song, Be Alive. The film's shooting commenced in January 2020, but was paused due to the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. After it resumed, Live Schreiber exited on account of scheduling conflicts and was replaced by Tony Goldwyn.

King Richard’s world premiere was held at the 48th Telluride Film Festival on 2 September 2021. It was simultaneously released in theaters and HBO Max on 19 November 2021. It has received decent feedback from critics.


Edited by Sabine Algur

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