Monday, July 25, 2011
(December 1994, U.S.)
I'm going to start this post by telling you all a little bedtime story...
Once upon a time in 1963, a young man saw a young woman who happened to work in the same department store as he standing against a pole. The first thing he said to her was, "I think that pole can stand on its own." One year later, he married her. Three years after that, those two people became my parents. Thirty-one years later, in 1998, I met a young woman in my office who was giving a consultant's presentation. That night, I committed what many might consider an unprofessional and inappropriate act by leaving her a message on her office voicemail in which I asked her out on a date. She was just crazy enough to say yes and today this woman is my wife and the mother of my son. Finally, some time ago, there was a very attractive and very well-built young receptionist working in my office who had an adorable habit of calling everyone who worked with her, "Baby". Surprisingly, no one considered this unprofessional in any way (???). For myself, I can only say with complete honesty that I've never had a girl call me "baby" whom I wasn't sleeping with. What's more, I'd be lying through my fucking teeth if I told you that I was never tempted to return some sort of flirtation with her (I'm a MAN, for Christ sakes, so that makes me human!). But I couldn't because I was in the workplace and returning the affection or flirtation or whatever you want to call it would have likely had me explaining myself in front of a judge. In other words, it appeared to be acceptable from the girl but would never be tolerated by the guy. I suppose my only real point with this story is that even in the modern workplace of the 21st Century, I'm still often unclear about what is and what's not acceptable dialogue between male and femail colleagues. I suppose until someone offers a solid explanation of the do's and don'ts, I'll just play it safe and keep my big mouth shut.
Regarding this Barry Levinson-directed film, first let me ask you all if you remember my post for BASIC INSTINCT in which I stated that between that film, this film, FATAL ATTRACTION (1987) and his own marriage to Catherine Zeta-Jones, actor Michael Douglas has seen more ass than a car rental (just thought I'd throw that out there again!). Based on Micahel Crichton original novel, DISCLOSURE is set in Seattle, Washington where software company DigiCom is about to merge with a publishing company. Tom Sanders (played by Douglas), head of manufacturing, expects to be promoted to run DigiCom after the merger. However, he learns that the position instead went to operations executive Meredith Johnson (played by the incredibly desirable Demi Moore), a former girlfriend from a long time ago. Late one evening, Meredith calls Tom into her office, ostensibly to discuss a project he's working on. Instead, she aggressively tries to resume her sexual relationship with him. Tom resists (not without difficulty) as he's now a faithfully-married family man. As he leaves, Meredith threatens to make him pay for spurning her (Hell hath no fury!). She does this by filing an alleged sexual harassment charge against him to their superiors. We're now faced with a situation in which we, the viewer, know the truth but instead we have a war of "he said, she said" in which Meredith will likely come out the winner as she is Tom's boss now. We get to see the legal end of things through Tom's female attourney in which it appears that regardless of the actual outcome, somehow Tom will lose because in the end it's all just one big game. Even when Tom manages to come out ahead through an unknowing recording on an answering machine which depicts Meredith's aggressive advances towards him, it seems that his company will still try to ruin him, regardless, in order to make sure the above-mention merger goes through without a hitch. In the end, though, cliche takes over as Tom's job is saved and Meredith is fired; not for her sexual harassment but rather for her part in a company cover-up. In the end, Tom is left in the same position he was in at the beginning of the film, but only after a narrow escape. Business as usual and they all lived happily ever.
The film invites us to critically examine topics such as the ease with which allegations of sexual harassment can destroy one's career and whether or not a double standard exists when such allegations are levied by men or women. Well, if you consider what I mentioned above about my company's receptionist, a double standard is certainly a possibility..."baby"!
Favorite line or dialogue:
Catherine Alvarez: "If you sue, you'll never get another job in the computer business; if you don't sue they'll bury you in Austin. If you sue it's news; if you don't it's gossip. If you sue nobody will believe you; if you don't, your wife won't. They will make your life into a living hell for the next three years until this case goes to trial. And for that privilege, it's going to cost you a minimum of a hundred thousand dollars. Do you not think it's a game Mr. Sanders? It's a game to them. How do you feel about losing?"