Bill Maher wants to know why, in the era of #MeToo, the most popular movie in America is “Fifty Shades Freed” — a film he describes as being about “a woman on a leash.” During his New Rules segment last night, the controversial TV host turned his attention to the seeming disparity between the growing calls for gender equality and an end to sexual harassment and the content of successful films like “Call Me by Your Name” and “The Shape of Water.”
“2017 was a great year for women because finally men have been put on notice. Harassment is going to be noted now, so you’re going to have to think of another way to meet women,” Maher said before adding that “all men are playing with five fouls now, as we should, but the movement falters if it thinks we can make pain-free the messy transition from two people not in a relationship to two people who are” — something born out by films ranging from “Love Actually” and “Snow White” to “Jerry Maguire” and “Rocky.”
“I’m not saying men act the way they do primarily because of movies,” Maher clarified, “but they have been getting this message for a long time that this is what women want. And it is what women want — but only from men they want it from. Problem is, we don’t know which one we are.”
To prove his point, he brought up four movies from 2017. “‘Beauty and the Beast’ is about a simple country girl who’s kidnapped, but it turns out it’s a prince, so it’s okay. If you think there’s a power imbalance when the conductor dates a cellist, imagine being hit on by a hulking dog-monster,” he said.
“‘Phantom Thread’ is about a powerful older man who picks up a waitress, ‘Call Me by Your Name’ is about a 24-year-old who has a gay affair with a 17-year-old, and ‘The Shape of Water’ is about a cleaning woman in a secret government lab who takes the Creature from the Black Lagoon Home and bangs it in the bathtub. If that’s not workplace sex, it’s certainly stealing office supplies.” Watch the full segment below.