Best Of The Web
“The mainstream, post-Weinstein phase of the MeToo movement is often considered in a vacuum. These ahistorical readings erase activists like Tarana Burke, the founder of the movement, as well as early accusers who did not have a hashtag, let alone any support or sympathy from their industry.
The new documentary Rocking the Couch, written and directed by Minh Collins and produced by Andrea Evans, focuses on sexual-misconduct allegations from the early ‘90s, but makes sure to establish that predatory behavior and sexual assault have always been Hollywood staples. This alternative history of Hollywood begins with the absolutely horrifying story of Virginia Rappe. In 1921, the American actress was allegedly raped by silent film star Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle. Rappe died four days after the alleged attack, and Arbuckle was charged with manslaughter. After the first two cases ended in a hung jury, Arbuckle was eventually acquitted in his third trial. But, as the documentary points out, his career never recovered—a far cry from our current wave of #MeToo comebacks.
After a heavily-abridged history of sexual-assault allegations in old-timey Hollywood, Rocking the Couch fast-forwards to the ‘80s and ‘90s. The documentary’s strongest and most compelling interviews are with a number of current and former actresses, reflecting on the sexual harassment and assault that functioned as their introductions to the entertainment industry.
Tonja Walker, a former Miss USA contestant, recalls moving out to L.A. and immediately getting soap opera work. At one casting, she met a soap star who proceeded to ask her out for dinner. Walker was excited for the date; she remembers hours of careful preparation, getting ready for their plans at 6:30. He showed up hours late, in a hockey jersey. “I knew immediately that this was bad,” she explains. They walked to pick up pizza, with Walker noting that, “I couldn’t wait to go home and be done with him.” At her door, she said goodnight—“and he said, not so fast.” The anonymous star closed her door and pushed her toward the bedroom, saying, “You know you want to do this.” He raped her and left, and she never heard from him again.”
JJ Editor's Daily Picks
"Political leaders from all French parties, including former presidents Francois Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy, joined Jews and non-Jews in Paris’s Place de la Republique to condemn antisemitic acts."
"Eighty years ago tonight, thousands of Americans gathered in New York to rally behind the Nazi Party and its ideals. An Oscar-nominated short documentary retrieves footage of the event, but leaves out the context that gives it meaning."
"The PM has persuaded the religious-Zionist Jewish Home to partner with the Kahanists of Otzma Yehudit. It makes cynical political sense for his interests, but what of Israel’s?"
"IFC’s series Documentary Now! began as an affectionately parodic tribute to the classics of nonfiction cinema. Its first episode, “Sandy Passage,” was a note-perfect evocation of the Maysles brothers’ Grey Gardens..."
"Making our choices count is, however, far from straightforward, and this is the subject of Martin Hägglund’s book This Life: Secular Faith and Spiritual Freedom."
"Teens in the United States are coming of age at a time when digital technology is truly ubiquitous, where smartphones are all of our “constant companions.”"
"...the Smollett story, if the “trajectory” leads to evidence of fakery, would actually reveal something else modern America is about: victimhood chic."
"Cool in the humanities isn’t that different from cool in other areas of cultural life, like planking, hotdog-legs photography, mason jar rehabilitation, and novels whose main character is a city."
"It’s true that high-octane, hardworking child-rearing has some pointless excesses, and it doesn’t spark joy for parents. But done right, it works for kids..."
"Cape Town in South Africa is a foodie destination. Some people in its renowned restaurant industry are trying to spread the food wealth citywide."
"...for many “space expansionists,” escaping Earth is about much more than dodging the bullet of extinction: it’s about realizing astronomical amounts of value by exploiting the universe’s vast resources to create something resembling utopia. "
"After facing persecution in the former Soviet Union and a new wave of antisemitism in the United States, Marya Zilberberg decides to put her Jewishness on display."