This was a film released in 2019. It stars 3 outstanding female actresses in 3 outstanding roles. In this film the men are the sidebars. The women are the film. Charlize Theron plays Megyn Kelly, Nicole Kidman as Gretchen Carlson, and Margot Robbie as Kayla Pospisil. The women were all women television personalities at Fox News involved in the claims of sexual harassment against the CEO of Fox Roger Ailes. I actually don’t know the true story of the events so can’t complain about the truth or accuracy of the film’s version of events. That is good, because then I am free to say, the story is true. It is true in the same sense that Macbeth is true. That is what counts.
I was particularly engrossed by the role of Kayla Pospisil. She wanted to be a star on Fox like Megyn and Gretchen She is a true child of Fox. For her and her family is Fox is their religion. Kayla, played by Margot Robbie, boldly said, “I don’t want to be on TV, I want to be on Fox. My family, everyday, especially holidays is Fox News. Fox News is how we go to Church.” This nicely captured the theological devotion to Fox. That is what Fox is all about.
Trying to get a spot on Fox News, preferably a show like Kelly or Carlson you see how she would do anything to get on the show no matter how degrading and she gets the opportunity to do exactly that. She gets solid advice from her friend a secret lesbian, and horrors, someone who doesn’t automatically hate liberals. Fox is not the place for her to be. But the friend gives her this advice:
“You have to adopt the attitude of an Irish street cop. The world is a bad place. People are lazy morons. Minorities are criminals. Sex is sick, but interesting. Ask yourself what will scare my grand mother, or piss off my grand father, and that’s a Fox story. Frighten. Titillate. Frighten. Titillate. Frighten. Titillate. When you start a story you need to start with a clear villain: Liberal judge, Vermont, Hollywood. Conservatives want to conserve. You are the last defence against Jesus hating, trans loving, Clinton controlled Armageddon.”
That is Fox News! Particularly the commentators like Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity. Again from my experience, even though I admit I have not watched Fox often, except for excerpts on Comedy News, that must be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. This felt true. Of course, that is a poor way to judge truth.
The men on the show are largely rogues. Again this just has to be true. As is said of Bill O’Reilly: “He cannot scale his anger. He is a perpetual anger machine. That’s why the crazies love him.” When he appears on television, and I think this was a “real” clip he said,
“In this country every famous or wealthy man is a target. You’re a target. I’m a target. Any time someone could come out and sue us, attack us, or get the press, and that’s a deplorable situation.”
That’s the whimpering cry of rich and powerful men. We should feel sorry for them. They are the ones that are oppressed.
The women who want a job must pass the Roger Ailes test. They must give a spin in a circle in front of this powerful sleazy old man to demonstrate they have the body for the job. This certainly must be true. Ailes tells Pospisil:
“This is the most competitive industry on earth. I could pluck you out of a line and move you to the front. But you have to give me one thing. Do you know what it is? (He pauses for a long time) Loyalty (like his hero Trump and with just as much grace.) You have to prove you are loyal. And you must find a way to prove it. That’s about it and we’ll talk again”.
The message is clear enough. Pospisil knows what she must do. Will she do it? If she does it or not she will pay a price either way. A big price.
The movie is about women standing up (or not) to powerful men. No let me rephrase that. This is the story about people standing up to powerful people. People who can oppress you and make you pay a big price. You are damned if you do, and damned if you don’t. It takes great courage to stand up and those who do, rarely “win”. Even when they “win” they lose. That makes it a universal story. That’s why it’s a true story. No matter what the facts.
I don’t want to give away the truth of the film, but I want to point out 2 facts with which the film closes.
Fox paid $50 million dollars to 2 women who alleged sexual harassment which its 2 male stars denied. And it also paid $65 million to the two male stars it said it had “just cause” to fire The two women who risked their careers to make the claim and were among the first to bring down 2 powerful public male television news stars, but they were not the last. And they were paid less than the male alleged harasser. What kind of “victory” is that? Reminds me of the fact that after the Civil War the United States paid reparations after the slaves were freed because of centuries of enslavement. The reparations were paid to southern plantation owners who lost their property!
At least one of the women had to sign a non-disclosure agreement. Darn I hate those and the lawyers who get away with demanding them.
This was an excellent film with a lot of truth. Ugly truth.