The independent London newspaper

Bombshell: #MeToo before Weinstein

17 January, 2020 — By Dan Carrier

Nicole Kidman in Bombshell

Directed by Jay Roach
Certificate 15

THE cracks in the chauvinist edifice of the media/industrial complex still feel wafer thin – but they are there.

Our misogynistic news landscape has yet to be truly held to account or changed – but this film, which tells the story of Fox News CEO Roger Ailes and the female reporters who he sexually harassed for years, is another step to highlighting quite how disgusting male-led corporations can be in their treatment of others.

The scandal of sexual harassment of women at Fox was before the Weinstein scandal broke, and was one of the first big high-profile harassment cases of the modern era.

Jay Roach’s film focuses on the story of three women working the Fox newsroom – Megyn Kelly (Charlize Theron), Gretchen Carson (Nicole Kidman) and Kayla Pospisil (Margot Robbie), who were subjected first hand to sexual harassment and bullying.

Fox boss Roger Ailes (John Lithgow, revelling in being a slobbery beast) has turned the Murdoch-owned news channel, that purveyor of lies, bigotry and daily hate, into one of America’s leading TV channels.

And what a surprise – a channel that treats its viewers with complete contempt and undermines all that is good in this world is also not a happy ship in the office.

Female staff are told to wear short skirts and show off their legs while on air, and their compul­sory uniform is figure-hugging dresses and tons and tons of makeup. To get a job, they have to go through a casting couch-style meeting with creep CEO Ailes.

We are given a taste of what their daily lives are like and the pressure applied to them to act, look and behave in a certain way.

Gretchen was the programme host who wanted to do her job properly, and did not want to simply pamper to the chauvinistic agenda set, and could see Fox’s support for the disgusting charlatan Trump wasn’t going to end well.

Her attempts to offer some semblance of balance made her a marked woman.

Megyn Kelly fronted news programmes that saw her argue it was “OK” to “black up” your face at Halloween, and run segments on why Father Christmas is white. Not a nice way to earn a living, and a pact with the Devil many who work for Murdoch must make.

But as the story unfolds and you see what she had to put up with, these controversies are pushed back and she becomes a more sympathetic character.

Robbie plays a young reporter from an evangelical Christian back­ground, a Fox fan who has her eyes opened to the world she had previously admired.

This film has a vital mess­age and is well told. It is depressing, including footage of Trump doing his usual worst – a timely reminder of the collective insanity our nations have allowed to hold the reins of power.

Despite hoping for a stronger polemic, it is still moving, what they had to put up with should never be downplayed.

Rupert Murdoch’s grubby paws have done so much damage to the fabric of Britain through his ownership of The Times and The Sun, and the impact of his Fox News in America cannot be underestimated.

It paved the way for Trump, meaning Murdoch could literally be blamed for helping facilitate the people who are intent on killing our planet.

Yet this film paints this pedlar of hate in a fairly kind light.


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