When former Fox News boss Roger Ailes died in 2017, filmmakers and writers were at the ready to expose details of the sexual harassment claims made against him, and his manipulative abuse of staff.
In 2019, The Loudest Voice depicted the development of Fox News and how Roger made it one of the most influential media organisations in the world. Russell Crowe earned a Golden Globe for his outing as the controversial titan, and we realised the political power of news in America and how the birth of the 24-hour news cycle affected reporter’s use of facts.
Having only got the go ahead after Roger’s death, Bombshell focuses on the legal action taken by Gretchen Carlson (Nicole Kidman), when she’s unfairly fired from the network. Gretchen’s accusations of harassment eventually trigger the all-out unraveling of Roger’s career, with more women stepping forward to share their experiences and end his era of abuse. Anchor Megyn Kelly (Charlize Theron) has to decide what part she’ll play in the take-down as the current face of Fox News, and fictional up-and-comer Kayla Pospisil (Margot Robbie) shows how aspiring talent can get caught up in Roger’s habitual harassment.
Based on a the real-life scandal
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Written by Academy Award winner Charles Randolph of The Big Short fame, Bombshell is another searing insight into the halls of power.
It deals with some obviously serious themes and, in a time defined by the #MeToo movement, reveals how challenging confronting institutional abuse can be.
It’s not as simple as speaking up when you witness wrongdoing: Gretchen and her counterparts have legitimate concerns for how it will affect their careers, families, and whether or not they’re ready to become the face of a politically-charged social revolution. Some also have feelings of shame to deal with, for being someone who could be manipulated, and wondering whether it was their fault. We see into the minds of women conditioned to absorb inappropriate comments from men, and why they’d appease their ego and change the conversation to avoid a stir.
As a king of conservatism, Bombshell also touches on Roger’s biased production of news, and the way his political opinions shaped the network. The events of the movie take place against the backdrop of Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign (which Roger aided in once he ‘was retired’ from Fox), and do little for the reputation of the party, or anyone who holds conservative views.
We may know how the story ends, but Bombshell spotlights once again the importance of a healthy workplace culture, and the power of unified action against injustice.
Bombshell is in cinemas January 16. Rated M