It’s no secret that Hollywood can be biased against the right. And when I took my seat at the movie theater, I was nervous that two women I’ve admired as strong female role models on the right would be twisted into caricatures or cast as villains. As the film started and we were introduced to the inner workings of Fox News, I quickly realized I didn’t have much to worry about. On the contrary, Bombshell is a story of courage and values, one that gives a voice to conservative women who refuse to be silenced.
Portrayed impeccably by Charlize Theron, Megyn Kelly declares multiple times throughout the film that she is not a feminist, yet her character is one who relentlessly stands up for women, even at risk of her job. While the events of the film are fictionalized, Theron, who seems to look more like Megyn than Megyn does, has her voice and mannerisms down cold. In fact, there are times in the film that we feel as though we are watching the real Megyn Kelly.
Nicole Kidman is also excellent as Gretchen Carlson, who declares from the start that she is accomplished and ambitious, and doesn’t settle for second place. Kidman’s Carlson also isn’t afraid to counter those who make their unsolicited negative opinions about her clear: “How you treat those you disagree with says everything about you.” It feels like a statement conservative and right-leaning women have been spouting for years.
While the film does promote the idea of the ambitious and well-spoken conservative woman, it isn’t totally without fault. Despite having had several openly gay hosts, including Shep Smith and Guy Benson, Fox is depicted as being a harmful environment for LGBT+ people through the character of Jess Carr. The character is a closeted lesbian and fears coming out in her work environment, reiterating the false idea that the LGBT+ community and the right can’t overlap. However, she develops a deep friendship with Margot Robbie’s evangelical and highly conservative character Kayla Pospisil. Their relationship has a great implication―that people of differing political parties and leanings can still develop close bonds and support each other through emotional crises.
Kayla is the only protagonist of the three who is entirely fictional, yet she is based on various testimonials by former Fox employees. In fact, she feels like an accurate depiction of today’s young conservative woman. Kayla may come off as naive in the beginning, but she is both intelligent and ambitious like Carlson and Kelly. She embodies the young and more vulnerable victim and sends an important message to the audience: sexual harassment and assault are not the victim’s fault, and leaving the situation does not make one weak.
Following in the wake of the #MeToo movement, Bombshell sends a powerful message: sexual harassment takes no political stance. It can happen anywhere and to anyone. But tenacious women exist all across the political spectrum, and they can use their voices to put a stop to it.
Sylvia is a Dallas native and currently a junior at Southern Methodist University, majoring in political science and journalism. She loves books, tea, politics, and The Bachelor.
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