I shuddered when I heard that a movie called North Country was being made out of the Jenson case, in which a group of female miners sued the owner of a taconite mine in northern Minnesota. I happen to know something about that case, which inspired a book called Class Action. The movie was said to be loosely based on the book and the actual case, and I could imagine how distorted Hollywood’s product would be.
The movie is now out; it stars Charlize Theron, who was no doubt cast for her striking resemblance to the miner she plays. The film’s web site is remarkably preachy, posturing the movie as a landmark in the battle against sexual harassment. The New York Post’s review of North Country confirms that the movie is awash in liberal stereotypes. But one jarring note jumped out at me:
Inspired by Anita Hill’s testimony at the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, Josey talks Bill, a local hockey-hero-turned-lawyer (Woody Harrelson, in his best work in years) into mounting a lawsuit. And like Hill, Josey is confronted by the mine owner’s “nuts and sluts” defense that focuses on her own sexual past.
The real Jenson case was filed in 1985, six years before the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearing. So this particular embellishment is pure fiction. Why did the moviemakers throw it in? Why do you think? The Supreme Court is in the news, and Justice Thomas is a hero to conservatives. So the liberals who made North Country went out of their way to slime him, shifting the movie’s time line by six years just so they could slander a Republican. No wonder conservatives hate Hollywood.
And, by the way, what’s this about Anita Hill being “confronted” by a “defense” that “focuse[d] on her own sexual past”? I don’t remember hearing anything about her sexual past; the defense put forward by Thomas and his supporters was that she was a liar, which the evidence seemed to show pretty convincingly.
UPDATE: Juan Non-Volokh emailed us to say that he had linked to this post on the Volokh Conspiracy, and some of his commenters apparently interpreted my observation that the Supreme Court is “in the news” to be a reference to the Harriet Miers controversy. Good grief! Obviously the script for a movie that has already been released was written long before October 3, when Bush announced the Miers nomination. Or, for that matter, well before the Roberts nomination. We assume a certain level of competence on the part of our readers. Did I say anything about the Roberts and Miers nominations? Of course not. By saying that the Supreme Court is “in the news,” I merely meant that it is an ongoing source of controversy, as it has been for many years. My point was obvious, and was not rebutted by any of the Volokh commenters (some of whom were downright hysterical): The Hill/Thomas plot element was fabricated, and–inasmuch as it was false–it had no apparent purpose but to take a shot at Republicans.