March 23, 2014

"Have you ever felt that you needed to see Anita Hill's family doing the Electric Slide?"

"It's clear from the subtitle that Freida Mock's documentary Anita: Speaking Truth to Power will be a rah-rah job, which is fine. What isn't clear, and what isn't fine at all, is why the final work needs to be so shapeless in its hagiography, so triumphal in its vagueness, so hapless in arguing its case."

Writes Alan Scherstuhl in the Village Voice.

And Ignatiy Vishnevetsky in the A.V. Club gives the documentary a D+:
The problems with Anita start with director Freida Lee Mock’s attempt to fit this story into the template of a generic empowerment narrative. Mock, who won an Oscar for the mostly forgotten Maya Lin: A Strong Clear Vision, directs in a non-compelling, TV-ready style; if viewers close their eyes, the only thing they’ll miss will be the names of the talking heads. Her thesis—laid out, classroom-documentary-style, in the first few minutes—is that Hill is a feminist icon whose testimony led to widespread social change. This reductive take on Hill’s moment in the national spotlight is supported by unconvincing interviewee testimonials, which reiterate that Hill is important, but not why or how. Along the way, Anita repeatedly succumbs to hero worship, drawing attention away from the social forces working against Hill and ignoring the nitty-gritty detail work of feminism in favor of a sugary empowerment high.
I'd like to know if the movie ever mentioned the undoing of this "widespread social change" that happened when a liberal (Bill Clinton) was revealed to have engaged in far worse sexual harassment than anything Anita Hill ever attributed to Clarence Thomas. If Mock doesn't take on that complexity, the whole "Speaking Truth to Power" notion is nonsense.

72 comments:

chickenlittle said...

Feel free to mock Frieda Mock.

cubanbob said...

Although I was an adult at the time of the hearings I must of missed noticing the great changes that resulted from her testimony. Can anyone tell me what those changes were?

mccullough said...

It was also undone by almost 23 years of Thomas on the Supreme Court with no incidents. Bill Clinton continued his poor behavior.

Anita Hill isn't credible. Never was.

chickenlittle said...

cubanbob said...
Although I was an adult at the time of the hearings I must of missed noticing the great changes that resulted from her testimony. Can anyone tell me what those changes were?

Coke introduced a non-stick coating to the outside of their canned products.

Carol said...

Sometimes I think women are more timid and conformist than they were in the 1950s. Hill seems more like a ninny church lady than a hero.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

It was entertaining television. My favorite moment was when Ted Kennedy had the gavel while Joe Biden took a bathroom break or something, and one of the character witnesses for Clarence Thomas handed Ted his ass.

dc said...

At the Thomas hearings we learned that sexual harassment was the worst thing in the world.A few years later we got the one free feel rule.

rhhardin said...

I speak truth to momentum.

YoungHegelian said...

Years ago, I remember reading an article by Camille Paglia on the Thomas hearings where she claimed that, in the wee hours of the morning where no one ever saw it, some women from Thomas' office very ably defended his character.

Does anyone here remember ever seeing recordings of those women's testimony? I never have.

rhhardin said...

CNN has the whole hearings up as video. Maybe you can find it from this segment, one I saved a link to.

cubanbob said...

Feminists are like communists. Their views can turn on a dime depending what The Party deems to be the correct view. The same feminists that damned Clarence Thomas for the alleged pubic hair on a coke can were quite willing to fellate Bill Clinton for his support for abortion.

DKWalser said...

Although I was an adult at the time of the hearings I must of missed noticing the great changes that resulted from her testimony. Can anyone tell me what those changes were?

The great change was the topic of sexual harassment being taken seriously in the workplace. A man chasing his secretary around his desk was no longer thought a fit subject for jokes. This stuff was serious.

Within weeks of Hill's testimony, our entire office received a two-day training on sexual harassment. A few months later, outside consultants came to interview some of us and then produce a customized report on how we could prevent sexual harassment. Each year, we received another 4-hour training to inoculate us against the disease. New hires had to participate in the training before joining the firm.

Then, Bill Clinton arrived. Sex in the office became a joking matter again. I haven't had to sit through a sexual harassment training in years. I wish I could get that time back.

SGT Ted said...

Anita Hill was to Sexual Harassment what Sandra Fluke was to #waronwomen.

She was the designated "victim" used in a Potempkin show trial to advance the agenda of the Democrat Party via character assassination and lies.

Clarence Thomas was a heretic; a conservative black man not beholden to the Democrats, thus, he was to be destroyed for his disloyalty. But, the "evidence" was so flimsy that even the Democrats couldn't bring themselves to call 3 other alleged "witnesses", due to their claims being such obvious, politically convenient bullshit.

Bill Clinton is ever to be excused for actual sexual harassment, because he, unlike Clarence, is on the correct team.

But, mainly because, it's always about gaining power and not any sort of integrity.

SGT Ted said...

Feminists are like communists.

That's because it is Gyno-Marxism at its foundations.

Mark O said...

Nonsense? Of course. It's propaganda.

madAsHell said...

She's 57 years old, and her only claim to fame is a pubic hair on a coke bottle.

Seeing Red said...

Why now and who cares? That was 25 years ago.

Saint Croix said...

Amazing how a film critic feels so free to be explicitly racist.

Her questioners look like blobs of pale and quivering cookie dough.

Presumably this sort of racism is deemed acceptable because she's talking about powerful white people. But it's so blatant. You would think some sort of warning bell would go off.

Saint Croix said...

I should say "he" as Alan is presumably male.

Saint Croix said...

If you're a liberal and you want to do a documentary about sex harassment, obviously you need to focus on Bill Clinton. Was he a sex harasser? How do you define sex harassment?

You should be pushing yourself, challenging yourself. Clinton puts this challenge upon you. Since you're a liberal feminist, you like him. But is he a sex harasser?

This conflict would make your documentary inherently interesting. And it will help you avoid creating propaganda that is so awful people on your own side are bored with it.

William said...

It wasn't just the obvious hypocrisy of their support of Bill Clinton in his time of trouble. How does it come to pass that Ted Kennedy gets to sit in judgment on a case of sexual harassment?......Anita Hill continues in the tradition of Alger Hiss. Alger Hiss, in his last days, was lionized by the left. He had his pension reinstated, gave paid lectures at Harvard, and got standing ovations. His guilt or innocence were immaterial. He was prosecuted by Richard Nixon and, on that basis, he was a martyr. Anita Hill did nothing very much with her life except be the recipient of an (allegedly) crude pass by a black Republican, and for this she is Joan of Arc.

Pogo is Dead said...

Ta-Nahesi Coates missed the real culprits keeping the black man down.

White Liberal Supremacy.
The Thomas hearings showed the inner workings of their plantation, and how they treat their slaves who try to escape.

EDH said...

Objectively, Betty Currie -- as a forced enabler -- was by far the woman subjected to the worst hostile work environment when compared to either Hill or Lewinsky.

Where's her documentary?

chickenlittle said...

rhhardin said...
I speak truth to momentum.

Who speaks truth to Watts?

Rusty said...

Anita who?

cyrus83 said...

Didn't you know that only Republicans and conservatives ever engage in harassment of women, sexual or otherwise?

That's the narrative, and Democrats will be damned if they let anybody get in the way of that, similar to how only Republicans/conservatives/southerners/whites can be racist.

chuck said...

In the 60's it was "Speaking BS to your BS buddies", and not much has changed.

Bruce Hayden said...

How does it come to pass that Ted Kennedy gets to sit in judgment on a case of sexual harassment?

I know that you shouldn't speak ill of the dearly departed, but I don't think that I will ever clear my head of the image of him wandering in, without pants, to check for sloppy seconds, down at the family compound in Miami, when that nephew of his raped that woman a couple of decades ago. It is that vision of a fairly rotund Kennedy with boxers sticking out from under his dress shirt boozily wandering into the room that sticks in my mind. Worse really, as an image of him, than the Senate sandwich that he was so famous for (btw - who was the other Dem Senator involved there - just remember he was prominent and a bit overweight too?).

Saint Croix said...

I have no doubt that Anita Hill's attempt to sabotage Thomas was all about abortion. This was 1991, Casey had not been written yet. So abortion was up in the air.

Several Roe voters had already left the bench, and were replaced with 12 years of Republican nominees. Powell was gone, Brennan had retired. And now Marshall was going, to be replaced with an arch conservative.

And so feminists were determined to destroy Clarence Thomas. And their attacks on him were primarily sexual in nature. Does he watch porn, for instance? The idea was to destroy him as a sexual hypocrite, but also as someone who is disrespectful to women.

Also liberals were forced in this position because Thomas was not like Robert Bork, who had a long history of issuing opinions and writing articles. Bork was "borked" as a racist, among other things, but at least these attacks were in regard to legal opinions, more or less.

Thomas, like Souter, was an unknown. It would be hard to attack his jurisprudence. So they would attack his character instead.

Anita HIll's testimony only makes sense with this background. If you want to make a movie about Anita Hill, you have to put the fight within the context of the larger fight over abortion, and the strong feminist desire to keep Clarence Thomas off the Court.

I do not believe his attackers were motivated by racism. Thomas might have perceived it that way (and as a tactic it was a highly effective bit of jujitsu). But it's not actually true, in my opinion. They were motivated by feminism and by abortion rights.

“I had a gender and he had a race.” Anita Hill says that. It's a very odd way to talk about a man after you had accused him of being a sex harasser. But it makes a lot of sense if you see her testimony as a feminist attempt to assassinate the character of a man whom you fear will set back women's rights.

Jupiter said...

"Alger Hiss, in his last days, was lionized by the left. He had his pension reinstated, gave paid lectures at Harvard, and got standing ovations. His guilt or innocence were immaterial."

I would say that his evident guilt was far from immaterial. Had he been innocent, the Left would have despised him.

Chuck said...

It's a Mockumentary.

http://www.tcm.com/mediaroom/video/237528/This-Is-Spinal-Tap-Movie-Clip-Rockumentary.html

cubanbob said...

“I had a gender and he had a race.” Anita Hill says that. It's a very odd way to talk about a man after you had accused him of being a sex harasser. But it makes a lot of sense if you see her testimony as a feminist attempt to assassinate the character of a man whom you fear will set back women's rights.

3/23/14, 1:22 PM"

An honest statement would have the word gender switched to agenda.

EDH said...

Chris Dodd was the other loaf in the senator sandwich.

Moose said...

So was Thomas held to a higher standard than Bill Clinton? I mean - seriously. I don't think Clinton was held to any standard...

Michael Fitzgerald said...

Bruce Hayden, that was Connecticut's Chris Dodd, the frat boy behind the housing collapse whose name is on the legislation that"fixed" the banking-lending industry.

Tom said...

How can someone want Clarence Thomas removed from the Court (or never confirmed) based on Anita Hill's claim but continue to support Bill and Hillary Clinton and ignore the settled lawsuits and documented sexually predatory practices by Bill? Or, is it just politics and using any club that available?

eddie willers said...

Within weeks of Hill's testimony, our entire office received a two-day training on sexual harassment.

So did we.
I was so insulted I stuck my dick out in protest.

Chef Mojo said...

This will get an Oscar nomination. it will also win the documentary Oscar. Doesn't matter if it's a lame piece of crap and a terrible film that very, very few people will see outside of large urban and college town art house movie theaters. Take it to the bank, baby. And let's do lunch.

gadfly said...

Much conversation here about the media treatment sex-addict Slick Willy and a dark black man whose biggest fault was his conservatism (and of late his white wife and his refusal to question witnesses).

I would remind those of you whose minds have been conditioned by "Camelot" that the liberal press effectively covered up the sexploits of JFK until long after his assassination.

But a "he said/she said" Senate hearing, (much of which was made up of questions to witnesses as to what Anita Hill had said to them) will not die because Judge Thomas is conservative. GMAFB

khesanh0802 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
khesanh0802 said...

Once again, Mary Joe Kopechne was unavailable for comment.

dwick said...

What difference, at this point, does it make?...

David said...

The only social change arising from that sorry incident was the confirmation of a strong and conservative black man to the United States Supreme Court. All in the face of vicious personal attacks that would have been condemned as racist if made by conservatives on a liberal nominee.

David said...

"A few years later we got the one free feel rule."

One?

SOJO said...

Those two events, Hill/Thomas and Clinton/Lewinsky, bookended the 90s for me.

The Hill/Thomas specifics didn't matter in the long run as much as the argument (rather than 'conversation') that the event began. Real, harsh, observable change and improvement happened all throughout the 90s. It's hard to explain or even remember how archaic it was before that. It seemed to me at time that it all should have been further along by then anyway, but it wasn't.

And then with Clinton/Lewinsky and the generation of feminists and Dems his own age covering for him, it all seemed to come crashing down, like the dotcom bubble.

Now I can see that some aspects of both did recover and survive and are rooted and standing on sturdier ground. At the time I hoped that I would never get to the point where I would defend someone like Clinton because it would mean my soul had died. I can partially see now why they did it (because I'm that much older and closer to soul death), but I'll still never go that way.

But it's all in the past, thank God, and there is no point in rehashing it now. I don't care about the history books, which always carry distortion, I only care about the changes that stuck and are alive today. They were real, and I see the next gen benefiting from them every day. It is they that get to choose the next area of change from that platform. And if they're fine and want to choose a completely different area of focus, that's okay with me.



David said...

Seeing Red said...
Why now and who cares? That was 25 years ago.


I can answer "why now." It especially applies to Hill's recent claim that Joe Biden botched the case by not obtaining the testimony of 3 supposedly corroborating witnesses. (Witness in the sense of testifying before a hearing, not in the sense of actually having seen anything happen.)

Hillary Clinton is running for President. Joe Biden is a potential opponent. In fact he's the only credible potential opponent at this time.

Much of this is directed at Joe Biden. ("Joe Bad. Joe Messed Up Anita Hill Hearing. Joe Let Evil Conservative Black Man on Court. No Vote for Joe."

David said...

The idea was to destroy [Thomas] as a sexual hypocrite.

No.

The idea was to present him as a oversexed, crude and sexually dangerous black man, a very old and vicious stereotype.

PB Reader said...

Anita Hill? Now? Aren't her 15 minutes up?

Are democrats searching for a two-fer? An unqualified black woman to run for president?

Zeb Quinn said...

Laws against sexual harassment in the workplace well predated the Thomas hearings. And women were bringing claims and winning. The Thomas hearings were pure political theater.

hombre said...

Let's not forget Teddy Kennedy, whose harassment extended to manslaughter.

Pogo is Dead said...

It was probably too problematic to offer up a Tawana Brawley documentary.

But it's not too early to do a documentary on that mean Powerline comment in the thread about the incestuousness between WaPo, the Administration and far left activist groups.

You know, a real important and damning story about the terrible ugly horrible things people anonymously post in comment sections about the lipstick and hair of swindleresses.

Because that's how women change their votes, apparently.

Saint Croix said...

The idea was to present him as a oversexed, crude and sexually dangerous black man, a very old and vicious stereotype.

It's a fair point. It's unlikely that was Anita HIll's thinking. But it's entirely possible the people who were searching for Anita Hill had that in mind.

lemondog said...

Does anyone here remember ever seeing recordings of those women's testimony? I never have.

C-Span video
Thomas Second Hearing Day 3, Part 3

List of supporting witnesses.
Clarence Thomas Confirmation Hearings: Supporting Witnesses Testimony

The Godfather said...

The article says, "Mock, like most reasonable people, is convinced that Hill told the truth". That's as far as I read. I watched her testimony, and I watched Thomas's testimony. I did not have the slightest doubt that he was telling the truth, and she was not.

God! I am annoyed by people who insist that anyone who disputes their position is "unreasonable". This is the source of most of the "incivility" in our public discourse.

Sean Gleeson said...

Yeah, I don’t think it counts as “speaking truth to power” if you’re not speaking truth.

richard mcenroe said...

If it's this easy, maybe I should go to Kickstarter for my own documentary: "Frida Kahlo, Progressive Visionary Muralist or Unibrowed Marxist Wallpainter"?

sydney said...

Hill is a feminist icon whose testimony led to widespread social change

The only change I remember happening was that radio and television announcers started pronouncing har-ASS-ment as HAIR-asment. I guess they were embarassed to have to say "ass" so often.

SOJO said...

My memory is that he "categorically denied" all allegations, but never specific incidents. IOW, he was saying he was innocent of sexual harassment, but may have done the specific actions. He was innocent of her interpretation.

Therefore, they both could have been telling the truth.

I thought it was quite simple, especially given the peculiar nature of his denial, and felt no need to call either one a liar.

SOJO said...

The 90s began with "categorical denial" and ended with the meaning of "is", a frustrating lesson in attorney speak.

SOJO said...

I also thought his high tech lynching talk was manipulative bullshit, but I now think that this was as true to him as Anita Hill's interpretation of his actions was true to her.

eric said...

We ought to be thanking Anita Hill. She gave us Andrew Breitbart.

Phil 3:14 said...

This post must have struck a chord with Crack.

donald said...

Ya know, is it sexual harassment when the fucking president of the fucking country is getting blow jobs FROM AN INTERN and playing with her pooner with cigars?

Isn't that sexual assault?

Aren't the attacks on Kathleen Willey RIGHT AFTER HER HUSBAND died a sexual assault?

Juanita Brodderick? Raped.

Bill Clinton is a sexual predator. Somebody should have shot him or cut off his dick a long time ago.

Sexual harassment. What a fucking joke.

Matthew Sablan said...

"Can anyone tell me what those changes were?"

-- Sexual harassment in the work place is taken a lot more seriously now than it was. Or at least, that's what I'm told. I don't know how it was, and I've never observed any sexual harassment to begin with, so I really have no frame of reference to compare the before/after.

SGT Ted said...

Anita Hills testimony was entirely undergirded by the old sexist Patriarchal notion that women are frail creatures and cannot handle the coarse speech of men.

That unstated but assumed notion completely undermined her testimony that a pubic hair joke in the office, that very well may have been a tactical fabrication for political ends, was somehow beyond the pale.

Anita Hills testimony was the beginning of the undoing of left feminisms rise by revealing their politically convenient hypocrisy regarding "Sexual HARassment".

Their hypocrisy (I'd put the kneepads on myself) surrounding Bill Clintons sexcapades with an employee sealed their fate.

Fat Man said...

I actually meet Anita Hill. I had dinner with her. She was the dullest and most humorless person I have ever meet.

Alec Rawls said...

The worst particular charge that Hill leveled against Thomas was that he once said, upon seeing a short curly hair on a coke can, "is that a pubic hair on that Coke can?"

That is THE supposedly damning incident. Everything else was relatively trivial compared even to that triviality. The woman should have been run out of town on a rail.

Matthew Sablan said...

Alec: I thought he was meant to imply that it was his, that was the offense? Honestly, I don't remember, it was so long ago.

Lee Katt said...

Things did change, and almost immediately. Sexual harassment became a big deal; the laws changed, and the workplace atmosphere changed.

For me (I'm 50 now), there are two things that stand out:

1. There was, in fact, almost insufferable condescension to women from a previous generation. It was not unusual to hear jokes about what idiots women are.

2. There was an enormous amount of hypocrisy on the part of women. Fact is, sexual harassment works, for the right man. Sexual harassment law is about silencing and intimidating beta men.

The bottom line: As a man, know thyself and thy audience and know what you can get away with.

I keep it simple and play it straight.

louann watson said...

anita shill

Unknown said...

Wow, how soon they forget.

Clarence Thomas was nominated in July 1991. Other than smearing his name, there were not changes of any kind related to sexual harassment issues that year until September 1991 when a naval aviator convention in Las Vegas called Tailhook made the news. Fed Gov came to a virtual standstill and blonde jokes turned into grounds for a law suit. I was working for a GOCO at the time and was pressed into prototypical training efforts.

In the proto-course, another mid level manager brought the story about a young lady who worked in his Dept. and tended to dress provocatively. One of the engineering types said to her, "What does that say about you, a sheer blouse unbuttoned down to there?" to which she replied, "See where your tie's pointing? What're you trying to say to me?" Cute story, but the question was how should a manager handle the situation which had probably already achieved a critical, legally actionable level. Crickets.

mikee said...

I watched the Anita Hill hearings on TV, on CSPAN. At the end of the final broadcast, the microphones were left on as the hearing broke up and the CSPAN credits were rolling over the live picture.

I distinctly recall that paradigm of righteous outrage, Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont, laughing with another paragon of women's rights, Senator Edward Kennedy. Kennedy said something about how that had been one long hearing, and Leahy glibly replied along the lines of, "If anyone was watching - Har, har, har, har."

Thus, in 5 seconds, these two demonstrated to anyone still watching exactly how important the whole thing was to those involved.

I don't recall any allegations of sexual harassment by the nominee arising to the death of any women who worked with him, either.