Anger brews as boycott is called for over 'sexist' Clint Eastwood movie 'Richard Jewell'

Ben Arnold
Contributor
Richard Jewell (Credit: Warner Bros)

The controversy surrounding new Clint Eastwood movie Richard Jewell appears not to be going away, with traction for a boycott of the movie brewing online.

One writer's tweet yesterday calling for a boycott of the movie over the insinuation in it that a journalist sleeps with a source in order to gain information has been retweeted over 1500 times and liked over 5000 times.

Read more: Olivia Wilde on defensive over Richard Jewell backlash

“Please do not pay to see movies that feature fictional female journalists who sleep with with sources for a story,” writes Slate journalist Mark Stern. “It's an egregiously sexist, demeaning, insulting trope and at this stage I don't see an appropriate response other than a flat-out boycott

“It’s 2019. Smart, thoughtful people have condemned this offensive trope loudly and consistently for years. They have persuasively explained why it is abhorrent. Please do not reward Clint Eastwood for deploying it. Do not pay money for RICHARD JEWELL.”

It follows the then editor of the Atlanta Constitution-Journal threatening legal action against Eastwood and the filmmakers, accusing them of 'malicious fabrications'.

The movie tells the true story of Richard Jewell, a security guard at the Olympic Games in Atlanta in 1996 who found and reported a pipe bomb, which exploded killing one person and injuring dozens of others.

Read more: Richard Jewell trailer

However, Jewell later wrongly became the FBI's prime suspect, changing his life forever.

Atlanta Constitution-Journal reporter Kathy Scruggs, played by Olivia Wilde in the movie, was the first to get the scoop that the FBI was investigating Jewell, however in the movie, she's shown offering to sleep with Agent Tom Shaw, played by Jon Hamm, in order to get information.

Olivia Wilde as Kathy Scraggs in Richard Jewell (Credit: Warner Bros)

Kevin Riley, the paper's editor, has said that 'there has never been any evidence that this is how Kathy got the story'

“It's a very dramatic story, anyway,” Riley added to The Hollywood Reporter. “Why would a storyteller decide to add a detail that is not only insulting but is unnecessary to the drama?”

Scruggs died in 2001 at the age of 42 following an overdose of prescription painkillers she took for a chronic back problem.

Read more: Clint Eastwood movie criticised over sexist plot

Wilde has defended herself against accusations of sexism.

She told THR: “By no means was I intending to suggest that as a female reporter, she needed to use her sexuality. I come from a long line of journalists — my mom’s been a journalist for 35 years — there’s no way I would want to suggest that.

“It's interesting that when audiences recognize sexuality within a character, they immediately, when it’s a woman, allow it to define her, and I think we should stop doing that and allow for nuance. It’s sort of a misunderstanding of feminism to expect women to become pious and sexless.”

The movie stars Paul Walter Hauser as Jewell, and is adapted from a 1997 article from Vanity Fair headlined 'American Nightmare', which revealed the trauma that Jewell and his family suffered in the media scrum.

Also starring Kathy Bates and Sam Rockwell, it's released in the UK on January 31, 2020.