Bombshell is the story about the sexual harassment lawsuits at Fox News that ended Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly after seemingly every woman that ever worked there appeared to be harassed by a male employee.
Charlize Theron plays Megyn Kelly who was the most powerful woman at Fox News and the most important name to throw herself in the lawsuit later after Gretchen Carlson (played by Nicole Kidman) was fired and decided to speak out against the toxic climate over there.
Before I shit on how inappropriate this movie is, I can’t not point out that Charlize legit becomes a different human being. From the speech pattern to the sound of her voice, Charlize transforms into one of the least likeable woman in recent TV history although Meghan McCain took that torch and doesn’t look like she plans on ever passing it off.
John Lithgow knocks Roger Ailes out of the park with his ability to add nuance to a vile human. He is both disgusting and caring in the same scene. Claaaaasssic abuser.
Nicole Kidman gave the usual Nicole Kidman performance. At this point in her career, you know what you’re getting. Never disappointed.
Okay, now that everyone’s been given their flowers: Fuck this movie.
The story of Roger Ailes’s repulsive behavior needs to be told. The toxic Fox News environment that oversexualized every woman in the building needs to see the light to hopefully prevent future workplace nonsense.
That being said, Megyn Kelly is not a hero. It’s insane that this movie attempts to portray Megyn Kelly as this virtuous voice of reason and justice. The movie starts with Megyn being the ‘victim’ of Donald Trump’s wrath during his 2016 campaign and I reckon the audience is supposed to feel sympathetic to this woman.
Let’s zoom out and remember that Fox News is responsible for the destruction of American political conversation by presenting bullshit and often time racist conspiracies as fact. Both Megyn Kelly and Gretchen Carlson were pillars in the rise of Fox News’s white nationalism.
Yes, towards the end of Gretchen’s run at Fox News she attempted to ride the feminism wave and she was actually in favor of banning assault rifles which was very anti-Fox.
We also have to recognize the context that she was essentially already being forced out and was acting out. As someone who has played chicken with employers as we silently fight over whether they’re going to fire me or if I’m going to quit, I know what it’s like to be a dick on purpose to see if they’ll pull the trigger.
It doesn’t matter how many times Bombshell shows Gretchen hugging her kids, it doesn’t erase that Gretchen thinks gay rights are a ‘distraction’ from real issues. We still remember Gretchen trying to spread the lie that Barack Obama is a Muslim (and why that would be a bad thing for some reason even if he was).
Bombshell mentions Megyn Kelly’s mega racist declaration that Santa Claus is white but doesn’t depict her take as gross but instead, Margot Robbie’s character, Kayla Pospisil, doubles-down on the idea in the next scene.
Real quick, Santa Claus isn’t real.
I’m sorry for anyone finding this out for the first time here. But the idea of needing to plant the white flag on Santa comes off very transparent as a white nationalist fear that brown people are taking everything. The race of a fake holiday character is so low stakes and Megyn Kelly was talking about it as if she will literally pull the burner out if you disagree with her.
These aren’t good people.
But bad people can occasionally do good things. Gretchen Carlson and Megyn Kelly are assholes that helped take down an even bigger asshole. You can tell that story without trying to make the audience feel bad for these two.
Humans are complicated. You can be two things at once. These are racist xenophobic sociopaths. They also didn’t want to get groped at work by an elderly man who was signing their paychecks. Why not show us this duality? Audiences are smarter than you think.
And let’s not act like Megyn Kelly realllyyyy stuck her neck out here. By the time she revealed what Ailes did to her, 20+ women had already come forward and NBC studios were in the midst of airbrushing her nameplate in front of her parking spot.
Interestingly enough, she would get her own daytime talk show and get fired because, hey look at that! She’s still racist!
The story should’ve been told from the perspective of new girl, Kayla Pospisil, who is a fabricated character that we don’t have years of baggage with.
That scene where she has to raise her dress for Ailes is the only real emotionally affecting scene in Bombshell. Her night with Kate McKinnon’s character was the only funny scene in the movie with the closeted democrat joke. That’s the heart of the movie.
Let’s be real, Megyn Kelly didn’t ‘stand up’ to Donald Trump. Trump attacked her first and she defender herself. Megyn and Gretchen are not heroes, I cannot stress this enough. But sometimes villains can do heroic things. Tell that story.
But don’t act like Fox News is some typical newsroom and Megyn is some sort of feminist icon.
Do better, Bombshell.