There are many types of bravery. Bravery in the face of death. Bravery in battle. Bravery in standing up against a stronger foe. Bravery in speaking out. The last two apply to some women at Fox News in their outing of Roger Ailes as a predator. Some will dismiss this film as a prime example of white feminism, but because it involves white women freeing themselves from a toxic climate does not make it not relevant for all women.
Yes, in terms of women, whites are at the top of the food chain. Yes, as a result a lot of the “hey, look at what we have accomplished” stories involving women are of white women. Yes, I am a white woman myself, but I have to believe that what we bring out, including this and the #MeToo movement, will trickle down to benefit visible minority women too. I have to hope.
Being one of the most powerful men in media was what Fox News chief Roger Ailes (John Lithgow – from television’s The Crown) was all about. He helped get presidents elected (Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump) and was known to make or break careers of newspeople. More specifically women. Even more specifically good looking women. What all this power and influence kept from the outside world is the fact that he was abusing women. Using them for his sexual satisfaction.
In 2016, Fox News was powerful in regards to news stations. With the right wing portion of the American population, that is. Popular with men because you could watch attractive women like Gretchen Carlson (Nicole Kidman – from television’s Big Little Lies) and Megyn Kelly (Charlize Theron – Tully, Monster). Those two women became big stars on the network. Ailes made them stars. He also sexually harrassed them. And many others.
His power sheltered him. No one spoke out. That despite the fact that he was an older, overweight man who was forced to use a walker to get around. His predatory behaviour continued despite his infirmeries. Continued with young, conservative, ambitious show producer Kayla Pospisil (Margot Robbie – Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood, Mary Queen of Scots). No one said anything, just turned a blind eye, even though most knew what was going on.
Even after being fired and subsequently filing a sexual harrassment charge against Ailes, Gretchen Carlson was the only one who spoke out. No one else was willing to stick out her neck. All were worried about their jobs and the money they were making.
The only one considering it is someone with plenty to lose – Megyn Kelly. She begins to go around figuring out if there is anyone else who Ailes has abused. Considering whether she will speak out and put her successful career at risk.
While there are some flaws here, it still is an effective film. Important in that it shows what women have to go through. In all industries. Those in power – men – use it to prey upon them. Women are seen merely as objects made to conquer. In some ways, less than human.
Some interesting ground is covered in the film, directed by Jay Roach (Meet the Fockers, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me) and written by Charles Randolph (The Big Short, The Interpreter), but there is plenty not covered. I don’t want to blame it on the fact that the two at the helm are men, but….
That being said, part of the “problem” here is that neither Gretchen nor Megyn are very sympathetic women. The way they are portrayed it is hard to be totally on their sides. Ambitious women have never been treated well by Hollywood, or humans in general. Something about a woman with a career makes loads of people uncomfortable.
Despite the fact that they were also victims of Ailes, the woman you feel most sorry for is Kayla. Her story affects you the most. Even though she too is ambitious, wanting to get to the top of the media pile. Despite the fact that she is a conservative. Somehow we are able to look past those undesirable qualities and see her humanity. Most of the credit for that has to go to Margot Robbie. She infuses the character with layers. Makes us care for her. Has our heart break when Ailes sets his sights on her. The scene outside a restaurant when she speaks on the phone to her co-worker about what Ailes did to her is a hard watch, but wonderful acting on Robbie’s part.
The cast here is huge! Besides the main three and Lithgow, known actor after known after pops up. Familiar faces such as Allison Janney, Richard Kind, Malcolm McDowell, Kate McKinnon, Connie Britton, Mark Duplas, Anne Ramsay, Jennifer Morrison, Ashley Greene, Alice Eve, Madeline Zima, and many others all play roles of varying sizes. It is obvious that loads wanted to be involved in this story, seeing it as an important one to bring to the screen. Important to shed light on what is happening and be a part of the discussion.