It’s been officially five years since two female reporters from the New York Times (and Mia Farrow’s son over at the New Yorker) took down that powerful ogre Harvey Weinstein, convincing a number of famous and not-famous women to go on the record about the myriad incidents of sexual misconduct the man committed for decades.
That story, which eventually became a book titled She Said, has been turned into a movie of the same name. On screen, diligent reporters — and concerned mothers — Jodi Kantor (Zoe Kazan) and Megan Twohey (Carey Mulligan) go after the Big Bad, practically crossing oceans and time zones in order to get women to recall their horrid moments with Harvey. The movie is a durable, earnest affair, as Mulligan and Kazan — their faces free of makeup but brimming with defiance — play women intent on taking down a monster in an era where a man who said he can freely grab women by the pussy can become President of the United States.
For all its raves (including one from this site), audiences didn’t flock to it on opening weekend. The $32 million film only took in $2.2 million, yet another dramatic awards contender that hasn’t clicked at the box office. I’ve had colleagues say it’s kinda hypocritical for the same industry that turned a blind eye to Weinstein’s years of scumbagginess to drop a movie that triumphantly documents his downfall. There’s no question that Hollywood has been a safe haven for power-mad dick swingers since, well, forever. (Female film historians like Karina Longworth and Kim Morgan have virtually made it their mission to regularly remind us.) But as someone who’s been writing a monthly column about the many films he sabotaged as the head of Miramax, I can never get enough of that bloated asshat’s downfall. Weinstein was an all-around, impenetrable menace, scarring the psyches of both women and men in the industry. However, unlike the women, the men did not have to deal with Weinstein begging them for a massage or to watch him beat off.
After Weinstein got his, other douchey power abusers started getting called out: Charlie Rose, Matt Lauer, Louis C.K., Les Moonves. Kevin Spacey and Bryan Singer, who worked together on The Usual Suspects, had their careers decimated after stories came out of their foul behavior with underaged boys. (It was kinda hilarious watching the 2019 Oscars and seeing various winners for Bohemian Rhapsody accept their trophies and refuse to mention Singer, who sorta directed it.) After years of casting couch jokes, it was finally acknowledged as the horrible indignity it’s always been once women started telling their sides of the story. Whistleblowers who came forward with their sexual-harassment accounts — from Taylor Swift to Terry Crews — became the Time Person of the Year. #MeToo and #TimesUp became social-media hashtags, as people recalled the various encounters they had with men who basically terrorized them with their junk.
So, where are we now? Are we officially in an age where women are treated as equals and not as totems of sexual conquest? Have men finally realized that taking your dick out around women, especially in a professional environment, is not cool?
Men do seem to be more on their p’s and q’s these days. Anyone who does something that seems somewhat predatory (Ned Fulmer, I see ya!) gets dragged all over the place. Unless Elon Musk completely wrecks it by the time I finish writing this, Twitter is still a place where people can pull out their pitchforks, ready to call out anyone and anything that’s toxic or problematic.
There are those (mostly comedians and conservative blowhards who are pissed they can’t be mean, bigoted dicks anymore) who’ve been complaining about “cancel culture” turning us into woke pussies, taking away our freedom to say or do any awful-ass thing we want. And, yet, some of these vilified cretins are still roaming freely, ostracized but not completely obliterated. Donald Trump wants to be President again. Bill Cosby’s not in jail anymore. Louis C.K., whose last comedy album won a Grammy, is still doing stand-up. Woody Allen is making his 50th film. Kevin Spacey will probably drop another creepy-ass holiday video before the year’s done. Thank God Weinstein is too wrapped up in rape trials to make a comeback.
If the Johnny Depp-Amber Heard
shitshow trial taught us anything, it’s that we still pick & choose who’s right and who’s wrong. If you happen to be a talented POS with a dedicated fanbase, damn the facts. Sure, Chris Brown has a lengthy history of abuse against women and men — but, as long as he keeps dropping bangers, people are still gonna love his rubbery-limbed ass. And even though he has a notorious rep for being a behind-the-scenes bully, Bill Murray is way too beloved to ever be fully canceled.
Well, at least things have become more inclusive post-Weinstein. Opportunities for women, people of color, and the LGBTQ+ community have opened up (especially in entertainment) now that white men have been forced to get with the times or get kicked to the curb. There’s also been an increase in female filmmakers, as more and more women are stepping behind the camera to make films like, well, She Said. This is all thanks to a couple of reporters whose story may not bring people to the movies, but managed to get a lot of deviant, dickhead despots out of the movie game.