NYT Movie Critic: Bush to Blame for Continuing Workplace Sex Harassment?

NYT movie critic Manohla Dargis has mostly praise for the new movie "North Country," starring an un-prettified Charlize Theron, though Dargis admits it's an "old-fashioned liberal weepie" (albeit one "with heart") based on a true story of a class-action sexual harasment suit at a Minnesota mining company.

"For every woman who has been grabbed and groped against her wishes, hounded and worse, told to shut up and smile, told to shut up and take it like a man, told to shut up if you know what's good for you, the new film 'North Country' will induce a shiver of recognition and maybe a blast of rage. A wobbly fiction about a real pioneering sex-discrimination case, the film is an unabashed vehicle for its modestly de-glammed star, Charlize Theron, but, much like George Clooney's 'Good Night, and Good Luck,' it's also a star vehicle with heart -- an old-fashioned liberal weepie about truth and justice."

Dargis gets dramatic (though perhaps not as dramatic as the apparently overheated movie itself): "Like the other female miners, Josey takes a job at Eveleth Mines because it pays better than any pink- or other blue-collar gig in the region. Poverty forces these women into the mine, where the air is thick with dust and misogyny...[Writer Michael] Seitzman pares away most of the mess and the tedium, but his smartest move is to turn a mirror on the audience and transform one woman's life and hard times into the life and hard times of all women. As Josey testifies in court, recalling every insult and outrage that ate at her soul, she becomes every woman who has ever had to repeat 'no' until she was blue in the face."

Dargis really lets her liberal leanings shine through near the end by suggesting the Bush administration is to blame for continuing harassment in the workplace: "The filmmakers' inability to wrest a happy ending out of this story, much less a hint of real triumph, also may be partly explained by recent events. Last year, the advocacy group National Women's Law Center issued a report that accused the Bush administration of rolling back gains for women in all walks of life, noting the diminished number of sex-discrimination cases handled by the Justice Department. It's hard to imagine what the women who fought Eveleth Mines would make of these developments, though it is a good guess that they would be pleased to see their struggle onscreen and back in the public eye."

When it comes to American presidents fostering sexual harassment in the workplace, Dargis could just have easily brought up another recent leader.

For more examples of Times bias, go to TimesWatch.

New York Times
Clay Waters's picture