This review will be uncharacteristically short. My conciseness results not from a lack of things to say, but from a prominent effort to not grant more attention to an undeserving source.
Bombshell highlights former Fox chair Roger Ailes’ demise. Ailes, who, for years, objectified white female journalists, seizing their dignity for airtime, easily embodies the film’s villain. By casting a white man as its villain, the film appears to place the film in a contemporary context that is the anti-white male hegemony of the #metoo era. This film, however, reveals that there is a new sheriff in town—the white female supremacist.
White female supremacy seemingly deviates from its white male counterpart, however, it festers the white supremacist reign by propagating victimization. This film features three blonde white women whose desirability affords them visibility and influence. By desirability, I speak specifically to white female ability to please and profit from the white male gaze. What stinks about this story is that the film posits sexual assault as something that should not happen to white women, particularly the white female bombshell.
Megyn Kelly and Gretchen Carlson, dramatized by veteran actresses Charlize Theron (Kelly) and Nicole Kidman (Carlson), embody white female supremacy. As white female supremacists, these characters delineate the push-and-pull dynamic where the white woman is both victim and victor. Specifically, Kelly and Carlson illustrate white women whose victimization becomes a path to favorable optics and conventional success.
Is sexual assault generally demeaning and deplorable?
I say this without contest. However, I would be remiss not to acknoweledge that sexual assault and rape functions disparately between white and black women.
If you are a black woman, you run the risk of your assault or rape being labeled a “hoax” before you are even offered help. Case in point: Carolyn Bryant, the woman who incited Emmett Till’s 1955 murder. Years after Till’s murder, Bryant admitted what most in the black collective already knew–that she lied. Yet, her initial claims remain detached from the term “hoax.”
Nevertheless, I (meaningfully) digress.
If you are a white woman, sexual assault does not necessarily assassinate your character or sour your ambitions.
For this reason, it is hard to cast the white woman as victim, as even these experiences becomes means to advance white female trajectory in America. To be blunt, if the white female is a victim, then the black woman simply must encompass something else, something more.
Sexual assault cast against the white woman refutes the woman ideology displaced onto her person. For the black woman, this sexual assault substantiates her severance from the term woman in concept.
There would be no white female identity without black women. Particularly, as stated numerous times by countless black female theorists, there would be no America, or white woman without black female sexual assault.
There would be no “African American” if it were not for the Roger Ailes who permeate the flesh to seize the mind, or the Megan Kelley’s who turned the other cheek or made it all it about themselves. Thus, the film, to the descendants of the abducted African, proves an insulting farce.
To elucidate my point, let us reference the film’s structure. Bombshell features three blonde, white female protagonists who occupy central placement in a movie where black women appear as props in a narrative integral to their American experience.
The film appears angled to motivate women through the white woman’s story. The white woman does not share the stage in a film on sexual assault, because in America, well globally, her story is default. This content, of course, does not posit that every woman can slay the dragon of sexual assault. Rather, it illustrates that if you’re assaulted by a white man, if you are a white woman, you can still end up on top.
Black female omission, when considered alongside the film’s title “bombshell,” posits a mutual exclusivity that underscores the violence of white female supremacy. The dictionary defines “bombshell” as “something or someone having a sudden and sensational effect.” Given who this film opts to highlight, it appears the black woman and her narrative simply do not fit the bill.
Besides betraying a predictable anti-blackness, the film underscores that western femininity and sexual assault maintains an exclusivity solely afforded to white women. If this film does not incite the black woman to say #mefirst rather than #metoo, I am not sure what will.
Bombshell, where white women usurp a white man to seize their position on a white supremacist throne, proves that sexual assault bears no significance unless performed against white people. Furthermore, the film’s take-down merely delineates a passing of a white supremacist baton.
This transfer of power, of course, is not a bombshell at all, but neither is the film or its subjects.