The message that Hollywood sent after #MeToo and #TimesUp was that it was no longer standing up for abuse and violence within the industry. The actors wore pins at award ceremonies, spoke out against a now jailed Harvey Weinstein, Y made big gestures how they would speak for women. However, when you look at Hollywood, supposedly in its ‘post #MeToo’ era, it doesn’t seem like much has changed.
In 2019, the Bryan Singer film Bohemian Rhapsody won multiple awards, including Best Picture at the Oscars, despite the numerous allegationss of sexual abuse of minors committed against the director. In 2020, David O’Russell began filming Amsterdam with a star-studded cast, including Margot Robbie, who apparently ignored his confession abuse of his niece. In 2022, both Kevin Spacey and Johnny Depp won their legal battles against their accusers, and in the specific case of Depp vs. Heard, we witnessed what was essentially an online smear campaign against Heardas well as a very open public backlash against #MeToo.
This sets the stage for She said, a 2022 docudrama examining the history of Weinstein’s abuse and the subsequent exposé published by New York Times journalists Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor. There are cameos from notable actors who were victims of Weinstein’s abuse, such as Ashley Judd, Rose McGowan and Gwyneth Paltrow, as well as stories from women who worked as Miramax staff. Their stories are retold visually through re-enactments that choose not to show any real examples of violence, a clear choice by filmmaker Maria Schrader not to re-victimize women or create ‘traumatic porn’.
She said makes her feminist stance very clear in the opening scene of the film, where we see Megan working on a piece about victims of Donald Trump’s harassment and how his election created an open environment for abuse to fester in the political arena. Through the movie She said reiterates this central point: a system of silence and complicity has aided in the abuse of women at the hands of powerful men.
Many have defended this toxic system, including directors, writers, producers, actors, financiers, and lawyers. She said makes it clear that there is little separation between a film and its production, and that if someone is being abused, we can’t ignore it simply because a film was successful. But She said It is a snake that eats its own tail. It wants to be a film that stands up for victims of interpersonal and sexual violence, but at the same time is produced by a Weinstein collaborator. Someone who sat back and did nothing when women raised their concerns about the predatory producer all those years ago. Someone now facing allegations of abuse.
In 1995, after his then-girlfriend Gwyneth Paltrow told him about Weinstein’s advances on her, Brad Pitt reportedly told the producer: “If you ever make her uncomfortable again, I’ll kill you.” It was commendable, but actions speak louder than words, and Pitt went on to star in 2009 Inglorious Bastards – a Weinstein production. Additionally, Pitt’s ex-wife Angelia Jolie revealed that Pitt had actively asked Weinstein to produce one of his movies in 2012, even after Jolie told Pitt about an alleged assault that occurred in 1998. As the actress said in a 2021 interview with the guardian, “I never associated or worked with him. [Weinstein] again. It was hard for me when Brad did it.”
How can we sit and watch stories about how women were forcibly expelled from the film industry due to abuse, while a man who has a largely fruitful career because Can Weinstein take credit for producing a feminist film?
Also, according to an FBI report In 2016, Pitt allegedly physically assaulted both Jolie and her children on a flight. During the incident, Pitt was accused of shaking Jolie’s head, forcing her against a wall, choking one of her children and punching another in the face, as well as throwing beer on Jolie and her family. From these heartbreaking details of the alleged abuse came out in October, Pitt has denied everything. He, too, has embarked on a new masculinity rebrand: He talks about getting sober, going to therapy, and starting a skincare line, all very bojack horseman redemption arc. What is most revealing about this new trajectory is that Pitt hired matthew hiltzik to run his PR crisis management: the same adviser who worked with Weinstein at Miramax and, more recently, managed Johnny Depp’s management press strategy during his defamation trial.
She said asks the audience to not only examine the damage caused by silence, but also reminds us of the impact Weinstein has had on his company culture. But given Pitt’s record of abuse and lack of accountability, why can’t we say the same for him? How can we sit and watch stories about how women were forcibly expelled from the film industry due to abuse, while a man who has a largely fruitful career because Can Weinstein take credit for producing a feminist film?
When asked about his participation in She said as producer, a source told Buzzfeed“As one of the few people in Hollywood to have stood up to Weinstein, he certainly has great respect for the journalists who were also the first to take on Weinstein.” But given Pitt’s past connection to Weinstein and the recent abuse allegations made against him, this election seems less like an honest effort to praise those who helped put Weinstein behind bars, and more like a low-key move to show that he is ‘with the times’ and ‘here for the women’.
As a result, She said is a movie that feels out of place. It’s a very serious attempt to reflect what’s happened in Hollywood in years past, and he thinks we’ve now created an open and progressive dialogue about sexual abuse. But when the industry continues to reward abusers, She said it feels less hopeful, and more like a bad joke.