What It’s Like to Be a Female Movie Critic in the #MeToo Era | Modern Society of USA

What It’s Like to Be a Female Movie Critic in the #MeToo Era

What It’s Like to Be a Female Movie Critic in the #MeToo Era

I didn’t expect everything to change after the allegations against Harvey Weinstein first surfaced, at least not all at once. But when woman after woman spoke out against him, and others accused still more Hollywood men of abuse, it did feel as if the movie world had slightly shifted off its axis. Suddenly, a whole lot of people were listening to what women in the industry had to say, and although much of it was terrible, this attention felt like a relief.

Among other things, this year’s torrent of truth-telling has underscored how much ordinary, unremarkable sexism — not just extreme or criminal behavior — women need to deal with just to get through the day. It’s pervasive. It seeps into your home and work, and shapes monumental and seemingly trivial choices as well as your art and your entertainment. The movies may offer us the promise of fleeting escape, but any woman can tell you that this getaway can feel distressingly, depressingly elusive when a film is in lock step with the worst the world gives us.

What I know from a life of watching and reviewing movies is that outrage is tedious, and exhausting. Sometimes it is just easier to go with the flow, though much depends on what’s happening onscreen and off. Sometimes, I don’t want to let a movie’s banal, casual sexism ruin my good time. So, I make expedient and strategic bargains with myself, glossing over some of the sexism and ignoring things that bother me (or trying to). I decide that the absence of female characters is acceptable or not too bad and maybe narratively justifiable. I want to keep grooving on the virtuosity of the directing, keep loving the (male) characters, the camerawork, gripping story and mysterious light.

You don’t have to look at the executive ranks to know that the industry has a long way to go before real change happens. Just look at the movies, the most popular of which remain male-directed and male-driven. It will be a while before we know if the allegations against men in the industry will have any impact on the kinds of stories we see, particularly at the big-studio level; it can often take a long time to make a movie. Yet if precedence is any guide, the industry will continue to issue apologies and make earnest-sounding promises — it is already casting out its designated monsters. But until men share real power with women, little of substance will change.

It wasn’t until powerful men were accused of sexually dehumanizing women that the industry’s sexism seemed on notice. Yet as time has passed, too often the focus has shifted to these men, with stories about their falls and potential next steps. I don’t care what Weinstein is going to do next; I’m interested in the women he allegedly assaulted. (He has denied the allegations.) I am also interested in the systems of power that permit male abuse and demand female (and male) silence in return. When we talk about industry sexism, the discussions often earnestly turn on words like representation and inclusion, but what we are talking about is an industry that systematically sees and treats women as inferior.

This sexism demands moral outrage too.

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