There is a searing, harrowing horror in watching a sexual assault survivor recall live what happened to her when she was 15 and her attacker was 17.
Still, this is nothing compared to what the survivor experiences.
So we were riveted when clinical psychologist Dr. Christine Blasey Ford expertly described the encoded memory of her 15 year old self being thrown unwilling into a tiny bedroom where a 17 year old version of US Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh ground his body into her as he laid on top of her young body and tried to remove her clothes in a drunken stupor.
It got even more horrific when she tried to scream, his hands covered her mouth and another drunken 17 year old in the room, his best bud, jumped on the bed in gleeful excitement at the spectacle and caused them all to roll onto the floor.
Still, what put it over the top and made it a peak experience never to be forgotten was their incessant laughter, at her and her powerlessness, reverberating almost 40 years later in her mind.
She recalls it as the irremovable primary memory, one that makes us wonder how a girl that young was ever able to move out from under him, run out the door and lock herself in a nearby bathroom until the sound of that drunken teenage boy laughter stumbled down a winding, skinny set of stairs and out of earshot.
If there is something TV movie sounding-ish about all of this, it’s because there is.
This all might easily be mistaken for a TV-movie done by one of the Big 3 networks in the 1970s or perhaps Lifetime in the early aughts, had so many of us not just seen it live in a US Senate Judiciary Hearing this week.
And perhaps it will be. Meaning, of course it will, all that’s missing is the grotesquery of the date.
Real-life couple Felicity Huffman and William H. Macy could easily play Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh. Really think about it. They both look the parts and they have the acting chops! He even plays an alcoholic Dad on Showtime’s Shameless, albeit one who makes no bones about it. Well, her riveting appearances on American Crime and so many other series and feature films will make up for that, if we’re at all worried about appealing to Red State America, which of course we are.
And who to play Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, sputtering with rage at the gall of these forces conspiring to derail what felt like a fait accompli for the married, straight white judge? Is Tommy Lee Jones too old? What about Sean Penn, is he just too…Sean Penn to play, as Mr. Graham referred to himself as during the hearings, a single white, Southern male? Well, few of us could have ever pictured, much less thought we’d buy, Penn as gay icon Harvey Milk, if you think about it. And you should about now. (Note: Oh yes, I DID write/bold that).
It seems certain if we could get big stars to appear as supporting cast, a la the classic Judgment at Nuremberg, Meryl Streep could manage Dianne Feinstein, Scarlett Johansson might make a fine Amy Klobuchar and Tracey Ellis Ross could evoke Kamala Harris. Of course, no one could top Frances McDormand or Angela Bassett as the California senator who in any just world (Note: Hah!) will one day be president. Still, all would-be producers these days are already terrified of being non-PC on this kind of project, at least publicly, so we can’t even go THERE.
Oh wait, we can stay within the TV realm and still get a great actress for Kamala. What about…Sarah Paulson!!!! Oh, again, not PC enough? Yikes.
Of course, the octogenarian men are even tougher to pull off…in so many ways. (Note: Get it?) For TV viewers we could age Chris Cooper for 85-year old Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley and Bruce Dern would need no makeup, just his awesome talent, to make 84 year old Orrin Hatch seem real. Except it might be a mistake to make him too real when he refers to a sexual assault survivor in her early fifties as an attractive woman. On the other hand, maybe we want reality? Maybe that IS the point?
Now, who for amiable Chris Coons, the Democratic senator from Delaware who helped broker the handshake deal with Jeff Flake, his telegenic friend and soon to be early retired Republican senator from Arizona, to acquiesce into asking the committee to have the FBI spend one week further investigating the now multiple allegations against Judge Kavanaugh?
People are saying this, not to mention the herculean efforts of the two rape survivors who cornered Flake in the elevator, were key, especially since Sen. Flake had just one hour before committed to voting YES on the Kavanaugh confirmation.
Don’t laugh but it’s more than possible Jason Alexander could play Sen. Coons. Even Howie Mandel. He’s amiable, right? They both are. (Note: Stop the chuckling, this is serious).
Ahh, but who for Flake, the guy we’re scripting to be the reluctant hero who rises to the occasion, key word in that being reluctant…or perhaps hero? Hmmm.
Ya gotta admit, Flake’s a good-looking guy at 55 with great hair and a big toothy smile in the mode of Ronald Reagan but without the Hollywood/California baggage. Maybe…gosh I’d like to say John Malkovich with makeup but clearly no one is buying that. Anyway, it’s probably just because someone who worked in my periodontist’s office told me this week that I reminded them of sexy Malkovich in Dangerous Liaisons, which at first seemed insulting but is now kind of growing on me.
But back to Flake. Okay, let’s go with the obvious of Hugh Jackman since they’re both really tall, Flake is a devout Mormon and none of Mitt Romney’s sons have any acting experience as far as we know. Though wait, how about Scott Eastwood??? He would certainly cost a lot less than Hugh and has a great pedigree to evoke reluctant hero.
Not that we are all not ALOT more than our heritages. Especially white, straight men cause, well, let’s be fair to EVERYONE.
If this all seems to trivialize the events of this week, the searing, harrowing horror of it all, it wasn’t INTENTIONAL. It was NEVER MEANT to have THAT EFFECT. It was only meant to sound angry and bitter.
Actually, it wasn’t. It was meant to make a point.
Nothing could trivialize what happened this week, or be any more bitter, than the reactions of half the Senate Judiciary Committee to it.
We all know which half and exactly who they are. But whether they will ever be willing to change, or even partially admit their culpability, remains a far different story.
It is one that pales in comparison to the REAL STORY in every possible way.