Last weekend we had some time to spare. No pending ‘to do’s, social engagement or, an assignment deadline for our teen and so, we decided to go to the movies. The choice was to watch The Post playing at a theater near us. The movie had received good reviews and we were curious. After all, it is a Spielberg film and how wrong could that go?
Well, it didn’t! In fact, it did what it was expected to do from such a master storyteller. It stirred emotions, raised some questions in our minds and made us think some more. ‘The Post’ is a beautifully woven story with powerhouse actors like Meryl steep, Tom Hanks, Bruce Greenwood, Tracy Letts and others. Granted, I am no film critique trained to analyze the techniques of movie making, however, I am in that group of audience who enjoy thought provoking content, the visuals, and one who certainly likes to reflect on the messages in a movie.
The Post, explores the roles of the NY Times and The Washington Post in exposing the reports about the Vietnam War and how these classified documents were kept in the dark from the public. It was investigative journalism, the tireless work of reporters and a commitment to get to the truth that finally brought the lies of a President and the government to light. The movie played on the chords of the mind and reinforced the value of news reporting in its most fearless form. The Post showed why such reporting is important and why it can be the corner stone of democracy. Not to mention the first amendment which protects the freedom of speech and press. All under the supervision of a woman
The portrayal of Katherine Graham, the first female publisher of a major American Newspaper – The Washington Post, was inspiring.
Her story makes you proud to be a woman. Many of Ms. Graham’s dilemmas, insecurities and hesitations as a decision maker in those times hold true to many women leaders even today. Particularly these days when the workplace is bogged down with allegations of misconduct, bullying and inappropriate behavior by male colleagues.
Her character made me think about how far we have come since the 1970’s. How much progress have we made? Yes, we have advances to be proud of with more women in the workplace and more in leadership positions, but there continues to be myriad forms of male bullying and harassment to go with it. One cannot help but think how women in leadership positions may feel the same insecurities and hesitations even today. In the movie, despite insecurities and dilemmas, Kate took a stand and chose to make a change; challenge her male colleagues. We as women in the workplace need to do the same. The boardrooms and the meetings need to create the environment to empower women and it is on all of us to do so.
In conclusion, the timing of The Post is nothing short of apt. Since the last two years, we are being repeatedly fed with the slogan of ‘Fake news’. A term used for a type of baseless, un-researched, or ‘eye catching’ journalism. A term that President Trump has deliberately made popular. He and his advisers have reiterated the term enough to make us wonder about the press and the truth in news. After all, reiteration helps to etch our memories – for a long time.
Right now, the countries mindset is confusing. And, more the President physiologically bully’s everyone to believe in ‘fake news’ the more powerful he, his people and his family gets. They have little to loose.
I heard that Steven Spielberg had rushed to release the movie given the current temperament of the country. If that is true, then I cannot help but thank him. The film is an appropriate reminder of the importance of free speech, the value of serious journalism in exposing lies, a woman’s ability to stand strong, to make tough calls when surrounded by naysayers and above all guarding our democracy from authoritarian leaders.
Written byAparajita Maitra
Aparajita has served as a university administrator with a deep interest in leadership development and minority issues in a predominantly Caucasian culture. Exploring the art of storytelling in literature, movies and paintings is one of her passions. She believes that individuals have multiple identities and should work to excel in them rather than restricting themselves to be the ‘perfect’ professional in their chosen field of study. She has a PhD in Higher Education Administration and is a Fulbright Scholar. She resides in the US with her husband and daughter.