A good old fashioned shoe-leather journalism story. All the President’s Men but with a female screenwriter, director, stars and subject matter. I thought it was better than Spotlight, which won best picture. One problem was that that movie pretended that its investigation was revolutionary, when really it was just another in a long line of exposés of the Catholic church. The subject matter of this movie really did change the world. This movie is also more stylish and has more tension.
I also liked how this movie contrasted with one element of “The Dropout.” That was a great TV miniseries, but it really sucked that they felt the need to invent a new editor at the Wall Street Journal. I watched the whole thing thinking “Really? Rupert Murdoch hired a black woman to be the editor in chief of the Wall Street Journal? And that wasn’t a huge news story in and of itself? Is this real? Am I going to have to look this up?” And eventually I looked it up and of course they faked it. The real editor was a white man who describes himself as a “right-wing curmudgeon.” Murdoch would rather tear out a nostril than put the WSJ in the hands of a black woman.
The makers of the TV show just didn’t want to have a whole storyline where two white men (a reporter and an editor) do the righteous work of taking down a white woman and an Indian-American man, because that looks bad. But I think they had a responsibility to lean into the fact that it looked bad. Taking down Elizabeth and Sunny was heroic, but there were uncomfortable elements to that and of course the WSJ would not be totally adverse to lunging when this woman and POC stuck their necks too far out. I think the show had a responsibility to admit that, instead of just inventing a black woman editor.
I like how She Said basically leaned into the fact that the two heroes were two fairly similar women. White working moms of young kids making their way as career women in New York. As in All the President’s Men, we get one Goyish and one Jewish, but that’s the only difference. (Of course, it helps that the NYT actually has a black editor, so they didn’t have to make one up, but he’s not a big part of the story.)
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