Two huge movie fanatics are distraught to learn that their favorite movies are produced by film executive Harvey Weinstein, who has just made headlines for sexual assault and harassment. They just can’t believe that the man responsible for shepherding some of the film’s most acclaimed indie classics to the big screen could do what he did.
Putting their heads together, they piece together the web of connections and realize Weinstein is deeply entrenched in the cultural landscape of America. In an attempt to rehabilitate their guilt for loving the work of a sexual predator, they embark on a trail of discovery and take it upon themselves to right the wrongs of sexism, patriarchy and misogyny.
Writer-director Christopher Guerrero’s comedy short is undeniably satirical, lampooning the cultural discourse around anti-sexism movements in the age of the 24/7 news cycle and clickbait, while humorously pointing to a big reason why we continually seem to need these movements in the first place.
Timing is everything in comedy, and the pacing and storytelling are rapid-fire and tightly focused, beginning with Max and Kyle’s increasingly distraught shock and pain that their favorite films are associated with Weinstein. The writing and performances — by actors Max Baumgarten and Kyle Helf — keep piling on the high emotion on an almost operatic level, which only gets more heightened as they examine their own culpability in the system.
Their reactions are exaggerated in the context of the film — the pair seem to cycle through some of the five cycles of grief as the story moves along — which seems ridiculous. As they gain momentum through hysteria, they increasingly ignore Veronica, the lone female presence in their dynamic, played here by actor Leah Lamarr with perfectly deadpan annoyance.
Veronica tries to be a voice of reason, attempting to contextualize the debate and re-center the victims of Weinstein’s actions in the middle of all the talk. But as Max and Kyle get caught up in their own emotions and perspectives, they hit upon a way to combat the institutional sexism that gave rise to Weinstein in the first place. They find a way to solve a centuries-old problem with…a solution that’s existed for a long time already.
“White Guys Solve Sexism” may have been inspired by Harvey Weinstein and his case’s impact on the film industry, but it’s also a free-wheeling, fast-moving and entertaining portrayal of formerly cocooned and insulated people waking up to something that has been obvious to nearly everyone else in the world.
It’s also a humorous yet sharp-eyed look at how easy it can be to overlook those who are deeply and most directly affected and harmed by institutional silence, oppression and coercion. As Max and Kyle whip themselves into a frenzy, they are consumed more and more about their guilt, and their tainted enjoyment of the films Weinstein made. But lost in the sturm-und-drang are those that Weinstein harmed, as well as the women’s voices attempting to chime in with their experiences, perspectives and knowledge. Veronica offers up opinions and ideas, but she’s simply not listened to by the men solving her problem. And while “White Guys Solve Sexism” plays it as a joke, it also has the savvy to know that this very dynamic has helped to give rise to the problem in the first place.