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‘Bombshell’ Critics Dehumanize Female Fox News Victims

The late and not so great “Nightly Show” sunk to a new low weeks before its cancellation.

The episode in question explored two Hispanic conservatives running for the highest office in the land -- Sens. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz. The show’s panel stripped the men of their cultural heritage due to their party affiliation.

Consider the time [host Larry Wilmore] let one of the show’s correspondents question whether senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio were “authentically Cuban-American.” He teed off the debate by insisting neither “embraces their Hispanic heritage.” Contributor Grace Parra added she didn’t consider them Latino herself.

That toxic moment reveals the fraud that is identity politics. It’s about ideology, and power, not culture, race or gender. It’s the same reason NOW sits on its corporate hands while comedians sexualize the current First Lady.

Something similar, albeit worse, is happening with “Bombshell.” The film, in limited release now but opening nationwide Dec. 20, tracks the fall of Fox News founder Roger Ailes. Charlize Theron, Margot Robbie and Nicole Kidman star as Fox News employees who blew the whistle on Ailes’ serial sexual harassment.

Bombshell (2019 Movie) New Trailer — Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman, Margot Robbie

The reviews, so far, are mixed to good. It’s what some reviewers said about the real-life victims, though, that is stunning and sadly predictable.

Forbes.com’s far-left critic Scott Mendelson starts his negative “Bombshell” review by saying something that should be as obvious as, “the sky is blue.” 

No, working at Fox News, even being instrumental in mainstreaming ideas and behavior that may have led to (or encouraged) sexual harassment, doesn’t make one deserving of such treatment.

Later, Mendelson reverses course on that theme.

…the film never really confronts the conundrum of wanting us to root for outright villains just because their superiors were worse.

“Outright villains?” What crimes did they commit? Robbie’s composite character is a Christian Instagrammer. Gretchen Carlson and Megyn Kelly read headlines at Fox News.

Is that their crime? Are they less worthy of empathy because they lean to the right? The two personalities were a far cry from Laura Ingraham or Sean Hannity.

The critic directly addresses his own ghastly thoughts next.

And there’s something brazenly unpleasant, especially in these dark times, about rooting for the righteous retribution of folks who were instrumental in brainwashing entire generations of Americans in ways that caused untold suffering and long-term damage to the entire planet… But maybe, just maybe, it means they shouldn’t get a glamourous “both sides” movie made about them which attempts to paint as righteous victims sticking it to the man.

NPR’s Linda Holmes doubles down on that sentiment.

…there’s not a lot here that isn’t found in a lot of other stories about sexual harassment, which means a lot of potentially interesting ground is left unexplored. (That’s aside from the fact that there will certainly be people who simply cannot find these particular women to be sympathetic. [emphasis added])

The latter words link to a Slate review of “Bombshell” with this headline:

Bombshell Wants You to Pump Your Fist in Solidarity With the Women of [Checks Teleprompter] Fox News?

Remember, modern feminism stops cold when it runs head first into women who don’t align with the Left’s worldview.

Bombshell (2019 Movie) Official Clip “Hotline” – Charlize Theron

Slate critic Dana Stevens is just warming up.

I can think of more important whistleblower stories to hear about in detail … than Megyn Kelly’s. A person with a platform that size who uses her on-air time to argue vehemently that Santa Claus is white, as Kelly did with an ex-colleague of mine … just isn’t that exciting to root for. No one deserves to be harassed at work, and the fact these women banded together to bring down an enormously powerful and malignant man is admirable. That doesn’t mean I want to spend two hours gazing at Megyn’s seemingly poreless face as she wrestles with whether and how to tell her truth, while continuing to play a highly public part in a media ecosystem based on lies.

She revisits that theme while recounting a troubling sequence in the film.

Bombshell is mainly concerned with what happened in Kelly’s and Carlson’s lives during those two weeks—the nice vacations ruined by paparazzi (again … trying to care?).

The scene in question finds Kelly’s young daughter gasping as photographers swarm their hotel room, attempting to take pictures of their family. Who doesn’t see that as a gross invasion of privacy? Still, Stevens’ Empathy Meter barely moves.

One final blow against the victims?

…but when you remember that Kelly herself was fired from NBC last year for defending blackface on air, it gets a bit harder to pump your fist in solidarity. Whatever beliefs they may hold about other people’s humanity, I’m glad these women finally received justice from the network that wronged them. I’m just not sure that translates into wanting to spend two hours in their company.

Vanity Fair’s critic clutched some pearls over the film showcasing two of the three female leads with their, gasp, children.

But Bombshell doesn’t really try to explore the moral complexity it sets up: that Kelly and her cohort can be objectionable people propping up an even worse institution while still doing something courageous and good. Instead the movie softens them to make them more palatable to perhaps its imagined liberal viewer, even going so far as to repeatedly (and, it feels, pointedly) show Carlson and Kelly with their children, as if motherhood is an indisputable talisman against criticism.

That’s frustrating, especially when the actors involved seem so willing to bore deeper into these characters and their milieu.

It’s akin to Jimmy Fallon tousling then-candidate Donald Trump’s hair. Humanizing conservatives, to some critics, is beyond the pale.

UPDATE: Time’s film critic trots out this bizarre framing for “Bombshell.”

But no matter where you stand on erstwhile Fox personalities Megyn Kelly and Gretchen Carlson, Bombshell … aims to convince us that they are, above all, human beings.

On that score, it’s only mildly successful….

You don’t have to like Kelly, Carlson, or the fictitious Pospisil to feel something for these women, intelligent, gifted professionals undermined by a controlling creep. But you’re always aware of their relative privilege, too.

Even “Bombshell” director Jay Roach noticed how some viewers are dismissing the real-life victims for purely partisan reasons.

“Some of the criticism is about why should we care about these women because they’re Fox women. And that is definitely tough to read that because that’s part of the point of the film — to say this is a nonpartisan issue. It seems almost like victim-blaming to say, ‘Oh, these women were sort of smiling their way through this process.’ Well, I don’t think so,” Roach said.

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