Hey there! You know what day it is, and here is my gift to you. Also, a reminder: The Neighbors, my new comic with Letizia Cadonici, is out next month. Ask your local comic store to stock it – you can find your store here – or pre-order it online, if you please.
The #MeToo movie boom never really took off. Backlash threw off the timing. It takes Hollywood two to three years to really capitalize on a cultural moment, and #MeToo was slated for demolition from the moment it started.
The Harvey Weinstein allegations kicked off #MeToo’s moment of mainstream acceptance in October of 2017, after the campaign was pioneered by Tarana Burke a decade earlier. Three months after that, in January of 2018, Babe dot net fumbled the Aziz Ansari allegation. This felt, to me, like the beginning of the end; even women I normally trusted on the matter of sexual misconduct were unwilling to admit that what Ansari had done “counted.”
Personally, I thought that expanding our ideas about what “counted” was the point. The problem wasn’t just that a few guys had committed spectacularly horrible acts of violence (though they had) but that violence and exploitation were baked into how our culture conceptualized sex, especially sex between men and women. What Ansari allegedly did — repeatedly, physically pressuring a woman who didn’t want to have sex until she relented — was coercion, but it was also a fairly common occurrence, because many people (many straight men, specifically) had been raised to believe that a woman's "no" was always the beginning of a negotiation.
No-one wanted to have that conversation. We can all condemn a Weinstein or an Epstein, but learning that you might hurt someone is just too scary. So from Ansari onward, it became a lot more common to accuse #MeToo of going “too far,” becoming increasingly unreasonable and draconian in its policing of straight male desire. The final nail in the coffin — allegations that Weinstein victim Asia Argento had sex with an underage co-star and paid for his silence — came in August of 2018, less than a year after the Weinstein expose.
I have a lot of thoughts about how this all played out; for instance, how this hyper-accelerated cycle of praise and backlash tends to happen to feminist movements, specifically, or how the anti-#MeToo lesson supposedly garnered from the Argento allegations — “women are just as bad” — led, not to supporting male victims, but to silencing female ones. There isn’t room for all my thoughts here, and most are unprintable, but I have them.
The point is, #MeToo got only about ten months of mainstream support, so by the time the #MeToo movies came out, critics were more prepared to see what was wrong with movies like Promising Young Woman or Men than what was right with them. Even highly praised movies, like The Assistant, evaporated on impact. The culture briefly became interested in victims’ stories, realized that not all victims are likable, and turned away, leaving us with a handful of interesting projects that hint at the sea change we thought was coming.
This isn’t on my mind all the time. It is, however, on my mind when watching Fresh, because my God, what a fantastic movie. I wish movies like this came out all the time.
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