While Variety editors debate and dither over the trade paper’s response (if any) to the National Society of Film Critics’ condemnation of its recent behavior in the Carey Mulligan-Dennis Harvey-Promising Young Woman brouhaha, Hollywood Elsewhere is submitting the following for Variety‘s consideration, should they wish to explain themselves more fully:
“Variety acknowledges, understands and respects the position of the National Society of Film Critics in its just-posted (2.9) criticism of Variety‘s 11-months-later apology for a certain paragraph in Dennis Harvey‘s 1.26.20 review of Promising Young Woman.
“If we were NSFC-allied critics instead of Variety editors, we might well agree with and support this morning’s statement wholeheartedly.
“However, Variety respectfully suggests that the NSFC has missed the point in this matter. Because what the NSFC has condemned us for — disrespecting a top-ranked stringer and needlessly bruising his sterling reputation, plus showing a lack of editorial ethics and backbone — happened for what we believe to be a good and noble reason.
“Simply put, we did what we did because we believe that #MeToo solidarity counts more than editorial integrity.
“We are living through a revolutionary era in Hollywood history, one in which women, people of various ethnicities and LGBTQs are righteously claiming a larger share of power and pressure — power that the white-male heirarchy has singlehandedly wielded for decades. Women in particular are standing up, pushing back and challenging sexist norms.
“And so when Carey Mulligan complained a few weeks ago to N.Y. Times columnist Kyle Buchanan about what she (and, frankly, we) judged as a viewpoint with a certain sexist or misogynist undercurrent, our hearts were stirred.
“And so it seemed necessary, important and perhaps even vital to us that Variety should stand alongside Mulligan, offer an unprecedented editorial apology and say “classic editorial journalistic ethics are well and good and we’re certainly not abandoning
most of them, but women need to stick together in this, an era of #MeToo solidarity and change…we’re with you all the way, Carey. And don’t worry about Harvey and his fuddy-duddy defenders…they’ll get over this little speed bump and we can all go back to business as usual.
“In other words, when we decided to apologize to Mulligan and Focus Features for the tone and phrasing in a single, allegedly inflammatory paragraph in Harvey’s review, our thinking was fundamentally driven by political rather than ethical or critical considerations.
“The fact is that right now we’re all swimming in revolutionary waters as more and more female professionals in this industry are struggling to take charge of their lives and careers while pushing back against numerous wealthy-white-male inclinations and prejudices. As Hollywood’s leading trade publication, our commitment to the power-structure changes currently afoot in this industry is what led us to hug Carey and diss Dennis.
“To rephrase yet again, when faced with a clear-cut choice that required Variety to either (a) embrace independent editorial integrity and respect one of our best stringers by addressing Mulligan’s response to his review in fairer and/or more constructive ways, or (b) show support for and solidarity with a highly respected, politically attuned actress who happens to be a kind of figurehead leader of the #MeToo movement, we chose (b).
“Harvey said it himself in the first paragraph of his Promising Young Woman review: ‘Given that the entertainment industry is pretty much the center of the #MeToo universe in terms of generating its its effects — and, needless to say, its causes — probably no Sundance film this year will be as hot a conversational topic.'”
HE conclusion: This, in short, is the tumultuous but righteous wokester world in which we’re all living, and if we, the editors of Variety, have to break a few ethical eggs in order to gain increased power and leverage for women in this business, so be it. #MeToo mobthink is calling the shots these days. Our actions in this episode were not motivated by the exact same thinking that led to the N.Y. Times editors and petition-signing staffers to fire Don McNeil, Jr. and producer Andy Mills, that Times reporter who wrote that she had “chills” over Biden and last summer’s hothouse resignation of Bari Weiss…it’s all part of the same wokester current, the same “get with the program and get the wording right or you’re in trouble.”
HE question: Is Carey Mulligan even more locked to win the Best Actress Oscar because of the NSFC thing, or has she taken a slight hit? You’ll recall that Mulligan didn’t demand an apology — she simply mentioned her discomfort in a chat with Buchanan, and then Variety offered the now-famous apology for its own reasons.