I don't think there is any doubt that for some time we will see what we saw happening with the Golden Globes this year concerning the effects of #MeToo. Without doubt, we are going to see women, who, even if they end up bearing characteristics we might later use, in a slightly different climate, against them -- as slightly monstrous, or overbearing, for example -- will pass our current smell test of "strong, empowered women." Without doubt, these will be the films that will win awards, and that everyone will show their eager association with. But how will we know that this means that as a culture, at least we ourselves have done the deep thinking into the matter of how sexual abuse has been tolerated and hidden, how victims have been made out to be guilty ones, to carry, even over much a lifetime, what is properly others' guilt, that for example John Oliver claimed he couldn't actual hear out of Dustin Hoffman's own claims of having done so?
Since it largely won't come from how women are portrayed in film, perhaps what we ought to do is remind ourselves that the #MeToo movement is as much about how everyone deserves to be treated as feminism is. Neither of these movements is about enfranchising women and ignoring any other group, but about making sure that no one alive anymore gets to be waylaid in life by popularly held assumptions of how it is ostensibly okay to treat people that has historically really meant cruelly holding back development and crushing souls.
Thinking along these lines, we might note whether or not there is in the developing film culture also a trend to challenge, not how men seem permitted to treat women, but how for example they seem permitted and encouraged to treat one another... of what is involved in making a man become the best man he can be. Does all that hate that used to be allowed onto women and that we used to justify as something they needed to learn how to handle, or to excuse as just clumsy flirting on men's part that women were oversensitive to, get re-allocated so that it actually inflates the validity of the kinds of treatment that actually has shut down many a man? Does it work to actually enhance male-bro culture, and pass our notice, because it looks or can pass off as evolved because it's now some man, finally this time ostensibly suffering the kind of abuse women have traditionally had to carry, a justified turn of events? And might this re-allocation end up proving temporary, as a culture that isn't as truly with #MeToo as it is pretending, builds the scaffolding for an ostensibly justified reason to revenge against the women that have temporarily resisted their previous uninterrupted and ongoing efforts to make use of them as props in which to dispel their anxieties and thereafter dispatch them.
In "Three Billboards," Sam Rockwell's character, Dixon, becomes a strong patriot to the empowered female avenger, but it comes through his willingly letting a man whom he could otherwise destroy, beat him into a pulp. He is not someone who is mentally broken by the abuse, someone whose intended plans, are actually thwarted thereby as he proved incapable of maintaining the stoic stance through the extreme effects of the torture, but someone whose intentions are fulfilled through them -- a man of will.
In "Moonlight," the young man, Chiron, who is repeatedly bullied through high school, ends up being incarcerated for an act of physical violence -- yes. But this violence was the successful annihilation of the very dominating man who'd been assaulting him -- and who quite frankly, scared us -- and seems a component of his being a pleasing powerhouse later, making it hard at some level to really believe that the bullying was actually not in the end helpful to him: it enabled his being able to make a final triumphant turn against an enduring compromised state of lasting fretfulness and fear.
"Dunkirk:" young men demonstrating that enduring conditions of assault has worth, for it meaning demonstrating that they were willing to endure experiences of apocalyptic terror and helplessness... and therefore anything at all for a country that has to have someone willing to feel all their own compromised emotional states, the intolerable anxieties of suspected catastrophic attack that had come to haunt them. Counting oneself amongst the abused for awhile has worth, for the country will laud you for it -- you'll experience the delight of a thousand trumpets, as a country in chorus cheers you unexpectedly as heroes and chases away any shame you might have been feeling -- and so conversely denying them an assemblage of abused young men is bad, for it means they'll hate you for requiring it to double-back onto them.
"Get Out," a film where conspicuously the main character, Chris Washington, does NOT become the emasculated attendee that represented the fate of the first abductee, but one who after torture, ably dispatches them all, dispatches his crazy user girlfriend, and is back amongst the one person he can count on, his "bro"-friend Rod.
"Logan," a man deteriorated in terms of pain, but never really someone who has to wear the humiliation of being reduced from superhero to limo driver -- it's all a chuckle, as it's means towards an end -- and remains throughout a counter to the really impossible-to-consider fate: being rendered akin to the albino "truffle-digger," who not only is the one who dusts and cooks, and insistently brings up -- that is, nags about -- household concerns the other is ignoring, but who turns turncoat quickly once childhood tortures become applied to him.
"Last Jedi": the pretentious and preening, the full-of-themselves, Finn, newly joined in a pantheon of heroes, who's suspect for perhaps getting off on his new status rather than keeping faith with his common-sort roots, Bo, the cocky guy who thinks his skill means everyone should bend to him, and that because he's special, he can bend rules everyone else has to abide, Hux, the evil young commander who seems to enjoy too much his being in the spotlight, and who doesn't understand that he's just a mere vehicle that a greater power is using, get deflated back into "proper" measure through instances of humiliation/ridicule and torture we are encouraged to take humour in. They ostensibly needed to be taken down a few pegs... it'll be good for them. Is this really a #MeToo film because women in the film gain greater space? Are we sure we should let it pass as bearing our new more evolved sensibilities, and not actually as hosting, with its validating brutally taking down anyone who can be set up as someone whose previous injuries are long past worth considering and who's now just verging on being a pretentious ass, a Trojan Horse of retrograde sympathies?
Some would argue that the very conditions that have served to destroy women -- environments of harassment and abuse -- logically should be understood as doing no less to men. And if films really are no longer for the kind of attitudes that have been applied to women, if we're seeing reform in the portrayal of women built out of deep consideration of the attitudes that previously sustained them, we should be seeing in films an acknowledgement that shaming and humiliation turns men into the kinds of reduced subjects that can make them prey to yet further assaults: that in every way, it's all kinds of bad.
We should not in films find our being drawn away from their fates, find ourselves through being able to identity with some other stronger character in the film successfully defending against what they were rendered into, so even as we ostensibly are only empathizing with and regretting their position they actually function in carrying a dreaded fate we actually enjoy seeing ourselves distinguished from.
We should register the assaults and humiliations the male characters have to endure as evidence as to why we need a therapeutic and caring climate nurtured for them as well. Men who are warm with one another, as heroes: micro-effects of goodwill, building macro-change. Men as those who are willing to do the REALLY unpopular thing, the thing that might make them truly loathed -- acts which are genuinely heroic but bear no signs of traditional bravado, like acknowledging that abuse hasn't tested and bettered you but made you someone who's actually come to enjoy pleasing his predators (a fate that often happens), and that it didn't come out of war, or some venture that leaves your initial status as a man ostensibly incontestable, but elsewhere, maybe some place humiliatingly domestic, making you actually akin to the sad dish-washing albino gorilla in "War for the Planet of the Apes," who, unlike his compatriot in crime, the gargantuan gorilla Red Donkey, is allowed no redemption at the end through "masculine" display of awesome strength and explosive violence.
Men shown breaking ranks in terms of traditional expectations of how men are supposed to comport themselves that leaves them unbearably blatantly exposing our own need for love, our own vulnerability, but not allowed to be categorized for dismissal as pretentious, as not-"I," but rather redeemed, so we are forced, as it is enabled to stand out in broad daylight so we can't turn away, to endure full memory of what had once happened to us too -- a first step towards stepping out from being an advocate for the oppressor, for we're with "him," to avoid our own shame, and if we're not destroyed in forced remembrance of it, we'll have to face up to that fact.
(Note: #MeToo can be subverted, and actually be used to further denigrate the women whose lives are now being somewhat recovered. I'll get to that sometime in another post, as I think the means towards it are already manifesting through certain links the are being made, in popular culture, in film, that'll work to make them seem egotistical -- as those who may know hurts but who don't ostensibly don't know what real pain is -- and pretentious -- those who think society shares their victory when they're earning the same number of millions their male compatriots do -- and ungrateful: Paglia's, "the world women enjoy was built out of the unregistered and unadministered, massive physical sacrifices of working class men." As a hint, it involves all those stories we're now hearing of women from war-afflicted regions risking life and limb for projects they'll never see a cent from, and, a la "Downsizing," the downtrodden male's -- who might himself know himself to have been a predator, and who's now ever-worried his own time might be up -- urgent eager affiliation with them.)