One of America’s biggest ironies is undeniable.
We have more ways to communicate than ever before, from social media platforms to podcasts and YouTube channels. Yet we’re increasingly afraid to speak lest we say the “wrong” thing or embrace an inconvenient truth.
It’s why Justin Folk, the director of The Daily Wire’s “What Is a Woman?” documentary, is glad his 2022 film helped people explore what some see as the most contentious issue of our age – trans ideology.
“It got the conversation started, and it gave a lot of people who felt sidelined or didn’t know what to say about this, it gave them a voice,” Folk told The Hollywood in Toto Podcast. Now, they can point to the hot-button documentary and share their thoughts on the challenging issues in play.
Folk’s film follows Daily Wire podcaster Matt Walsh as he examines the current trans movement related to children and asks medical experts the titular question.
The results? Some of the film’s talking heads appear foolish, at least to those who align with Folk’s worldview. So far, the various experts have let the film, and their appearance in it, speak for themselves.
“I don’t think any of those people would back away from what they said in the film,” Folk says. “This is their ideology.”
A year after its release, What Is A Woman is the number one streaming movie on Rotten Tomatoes pic.twitter.com/NneGzP9EX7
— Matt Walsh (@MattWalshBlog) June 4, 2023
Critics, and they are both legion and vocal, dismissed the film as transphobic and hurtful. Some did so without reportedly watching the movie. [NOTE: This reporter is a contributor to The Daily Wire]
Folk insists he wasn’t trying to shoot a bombastic, hard-right polemic, but he isn’t surprised the film continues to generate cultural heat.
Time hasn’t cooled the debate on the issues in play.
The Daily Wire shared “Woman?” for free on Twitter last week, celebrating the film’s one-year anniversary. The culture buckled anew, with Twitter utilizing several tactics to diminish the film’s reach before Twitter owner Elon Musk stepped in.
The billionaire even pinned a message tied to the film to his 142.2 million strong Twitter account. The controversy, combined with Musk’s seal of approval, pushed “Woman?” past the 170 million views mark on Twitter.
The film’s secret, Folk says, is Walsh’s decision to approach the material in a detached fashion. The stoic technique even drew praise from Spotify superstar Joe Rogan, among others.
“He knew gender ideology was built upon an ideological mess of postmodern relativism, and if you simply ask questions it would just fall apart,” he says. “When he told me it was the Socratic method technique that he wanted to employ I thought it was great.”
Folk previously directed 2019’s “No Safe Spaces” featuring Adam Carolla and Dennis Prager. That film showed free speech being suppressed at the university level. The film predated more frightening attacks on the First Amendment, including the government’s collaborations with Big Tech to squelch accurate data on the COVID-19 pandemic.
The other secret to “What Is a Woman’s” success? That simple, four-word title.
“It’s an amazing question,” he says. “As a society, we’re surprised that we’re asking the question to begin with …. how did we get here?
“That question,” Folk adds, “has become a movement.”
Listen to the entire conversation at The Hollywood in Toto Podcast.