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Seeing Allred

“I live in a war zone everyday”

Compared with the fascinating women’s movement in Iran, described by a female human-rights lawyer as a movement of civil-disobedience: “[w]omen know what the laws of the land say about hijab, and, based on that, they chose to protest.”

Or the life of Pakistani human rights lawyer and activist Asma Jahangir, who “for decades . . . [was] a leading advocate for women, minorities and democracy in Pakistan . . . imprisoned for her work[.]

Or, even the brilliance of Nadine Strosser (former president of the ACLU), in particular her competence to carry her weight in a room of men with poise and intelligence.

Gloria Allred, and this new documentary on Netflix, is anything but. A groveling propaganda piece that reduces into pure political virtue signaling, fawning over a divisive figure who lacks the requisite balance and nuance to pique the interest of thoughtful people. This is particularly irresponsible given the climate of division our country happens to be in and the immensely important issues that Allred seemingly defends. Perhaps in her early years, Allred was the equivalent of Ruth Bader Ginsburg,  but where the latter became a force for intellectual change, the former seemingly devolved into the female Johnnie Cochran and a prime candidate for today’s Senate Circus.

The issues (e.g. sexual abuse, child support) that Allred fought for need to be documented, discussed, and debated because, despite her disposition, her mission, was praiseworthy in most areas. However, unlike the brilliant eye for detail and imagination from Yance Ford’s Strong Island, this documentary for Netflix is a meandering exhibitionism of the stories of others lost in the pretension of a legal pop-celebrity who’s affinity with martyrdom rises to the level of banality in Trump’s tweets.

Surprisingly, while the sycophantic critics have universally accepted the film in their need to reaffirm the agenda without prejudice to the presentation, many of them mention the major problem:

 Kenneth Turan (L.A. Times):

Though we periodically hear from cranks insisting Allred is “a shrill feminist attorney,” one of the flaws of the documentary is that we don’t hear from anyone sane offering both pros and cons on her highly public career.

Brian Lowry (CNN):

What’s missing from the film, unfortunately, is a sense of balance — anybody who might accuse Allred of public-relations grandstanding or second-guess her decisions. Yes, there are clips of people (including Trump, but also Jimmy Kimmel and “Saturday Night Live”) criticizing or mocking her, and ample praise from notable figures, such as Gloria Steinem. But there’s relatively little that qualifies as bringing critical third-party voices into the conversation.

Ken Jaworowski (NY Times):

Few of Ms. Allred’s detractors are heard from, and the directors don’t press her to divulge too much about her personal life or to refute criticisms.

While the #MeToo movement continues to bring to light the wrongdoings of men in the company of non-disclosure, artist must begin to take their profession more seriously as a tool to break through disunity and build depth of character towards reconciliation.



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