Bombshell confronts important issues
FRI. | 2-26-21 | ENTERTAINMENT
I recently watched Bombshell, which was released in December of 2019 but just made its way to streaming services like Hulu and Amazon Prime. Before I even read the synopsis, I knew I had to watch the movie because of its strong female cast — Nicole Kidman, Charlize Theron, Margot Robbie and Kate McKinnon. Bombshell is a dramatization of real story: the story of the Roger Ailes, former FOX News CEO, and the sexual harassment allegations brought forth by former FOX anchors Gretchen Carlson (portrayed by Kidman) and Megyn Kelly (portrayed by Theron).
While the movie is centered around heavy material — and unsettling scenes of harassment and psychological torment — it is so well done and worth the watch as long as the subject matter isn’t triggering to the viewer. There are some pretty hilarious scenes throughout the movie to balance it out, which is an added bonus. Regardless of political affiliation, everyone can take something from this movie, as it separates politics from sexual harassment.
Before discussing the film, it is helpful to know more about the sexual harassment allegations against Roger Ailes. Vox journalist Emily Crockett compiled a comprehensive article with all the allegations made against Ailes, with some dating back to experiences in the ‘80s. Gretchen Carlson, though, dropped a bombshell (hence the movie’s name) by personally suing Ailes once she was fired from FOX. As he denied the claims, she brought forth recordings of some of their conversations.
In light of Carlson’s allegations, FOX had an internal investigation and many women at FOX defended Ailes. Megyn Kelly eventually spoke with lawyers about unwanted sexual advances he had made towards her in the 2000s, and she even prompted other women to come
Image contributed from IMDb
forward. With the overwhelming number of allegations, as well as the documented proof from Carlson, Ailes was ousted from his position of FOX News CEO by the Murdoch family, the founders and owners of the FOX Corporation.
Bombshell details much of this story in an easy-to-follow manner — but the real-life Megyn Kelly did release a YouTube video expressing what the movie got right and wrong. One of the most obvious differences and fictional elements is Margot Robbie’s character, Kayla Pospisil (who is an amalgamation of numerous anonymous accounts). Because much of the movie is based on a true story, it is hard to stray from the facts or focus on character development, but Margot Robbie’s performance is unique and the most important facet of Bombshell.
Pospisil is seemingly your typical Barbie blonde and Christian millennial. She is introduced to viewers as she messes up a TV news bar by not knowing the difference between Don Henley and Glen Frey of The Eagles — one of the most well known rock bands of the 70s. Her exact words are “I don’t know secular music” and “They all look the same.” The Bombshell writers and Robbie, however, add dimension to what could have been a caricature in the wrong hands.
Pospisil's life and career goals have centered around FOX — as seen when she cried out “I don’t want to be on TV, I want to be on FOX” and “FOX is how we do church!” Her FOX career begins behind-the-scenes, but she is determined to make her way as on-air anchor. When she scores a meeting with Ailes, she’s ecstatic for the opportunity. In the meeting, Ailes asks her to twirl and even pull up the hem of her dress, rather than asking about her qualifications. While nothing physically occurs between the two of them, it is one of the most excruciatingly raw scenes. It is painfully discomforting to watch, but that is the exact impact it is supposed to have. For the remainder of the movie, Kayla’s demeanor alters to properly reflect the psychological effects of Ailes’ behavior; she becomes very reserved and she just looks like all the joy has been sucked out of her. Nonetheless, Kayla continues to meet with Ailes.
As allegations arise, Kayla confides with Jess Carr (her best friend at FOX, and a closeted lesbian/Democrat, played by Kate McKinnon) and Megyn Kelly and expresses to them the guilt, shame and anger that comes with being a victim. Robbie’s portrayal of these emotions is so powerful and well-done — you almost forget that she’s only playing a character.
As the movie reaches its end, and Ailes is fired, Kayla walks out of the FOX newsroom and throws away her ID badge. While a seemingly simple action and scene, it holds so much weight. Even though being a FOX News anchor was Kayla’s life-long dream, she does not give into tolerating a culture of sexual harassment for the sake of her career. In walking out, she is standing up for herself in a way that Megyn Kelly nor Gretchen Carlson did. Bombshell and Robbie embody the power imbalance in many workplaces, and it removes political affiliation from the conversation of sexual assault. With an A-list cast, comedic one-liners sprinkled in and the important message it imparts, everyone should watch Bombshell.