Disclosure (1994)

Disclosure

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A good friend of mine from college, Ethan Lewis, used to say that the original Star Trek t.v. series was progressive because it showed that in the future women will truly be treated like professional equals when they feel  liberated enough to show up for work in sluty miniskirts and fishnet nylons.  I don’t remember exactly how our society had progressed or stalled by 1994 in terms of sexual equality.  What’s embarrassing about Disclosure is not that it’s a dated article on sexism but that, 15 years later, it seems just as relevant.   Take out the Apple Performa computers and the email screens that look like they were created on an Atari platform, and you would be left with all same social complications.  The movie’s failures lie in an inability to maturely explore these issues.  It doesn’t understand or address sexual harassment other than to, rather insultingly, turn the Michael Douglas (employee) character into a molested victim and the Demi Moore (boss) character into psychotic, ladder-leaping, whore.  You see men, in today’s corporate world are still attempting to get ahead by the rules of meritocracy, while successful women are just man-raping their way to the boardroom.   Ultimately Moore’s venial calculations turn out to be no match for Douglas’s unadulterated motivation and professional expertise.    There is even some veiled indication that perhaps Douglas, the victim, also actually engineered the whole situation and its resulting fallout all along.  So patriarchy remains safely intact, but now from both the top down and the bottom up.   The only true pathway for professional women here, through the labyrinth of old-boyism and ass slapping, is to maybe be a sexless dowager waiting in the middle-management hallway until the boys finally promote you; perhaps sometime around the commencement of your retirement.  Disclosure has great, cynical dialog, a seductive, turning story, and terrific acting, particularly Demi Moore.  I recommend it with the caveat that it’s intelligence on equality in the workplace is stuck somewhere in about 2009.

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