The #MeToo fight to come: What a new movie about Roger Ailes reveals
Monday night, I went to a special screening of the new film "Bombshell," which tells the true story of the downfall of late Fox News honcho -- and verifiable sleaze ball -- Roger Ailes.
Having worked inside the corridors of Fox myself years ago, Jay Roach's stylized, nuanced and biting portrayal of the Ailes era felt very familiar. I know the stories. I personally know many of Roger's victims, as well as the culture that pervaded that network.
And yet, I still managed to find some astonishment that this all happened as it did, in this century, this decade even.
As one of the first major feature films to deal with the #MeToo moment, "Bombshell" does something important and truly revolutionary: It shows us, in just two hours, exactly how layered and complex systemic sexual harassment in the workplace can be.
Ailes' grip on the women of Fox News wasn't simple or straightforward. It was never as easy as trading sexual favors for upward mobility. Like all sexual harassment, it was about power: He had it, they did not. He was intent on keeping it and wielding it over others.
It was also very clearly about humiliation. He relished making women grovel for some semblance of stability, frequently pitting them against one another to keep them insecure about their positions.
It relied not only on his victims' continued fear of very real consequences, but that of bystanders and outside observers. Many people helped enable Ailes, whether out of self-interest or self-preservation.
With so many of these stories coming out, we now know how people like Ailes, Harvey Weinstein and many other powerful men successfully built a sexual harassment industrial complex that entrapped so many women for so long. Discussions about HR practices, empowering more women in higher positions, ending non-disclosure agreements and more are being worked through a national vetting process that will invariably lead to progress.
But "Bombshell" exposes a lesser-discussed thread of sexual harassment that we haven't really tackled as thoroughly: the way this pernicious behavior continues to punish its victims even when their perpetrators are exposed and brought to justice.
Consider the fact that many of the women who accused Ailes are no longer working in the high-profile jobs they once had. Some aren't working at all.