I Blame Society is an absolutely hilarious portrait of a serial killer, like if Henry were the kind of movie you’d want to watch more than once. It isn’t really horror, but it’s got enough nods to the genre (and is available on Shudder), so I’ve got no qualms about including it on the site.
The way film displays power dynamics in Hollywood is one of its greatest strengths. There’s a series of conversations Gillian has with various men whom she’s essentially trying to appease and impress. Almost all of these include comments about “being a good ally” or “elevating marginalized voices” or some other trendy phrase that’s newly added to corporate lexicon—despite attitudes and hiring practices remaining essentially unchanged.
A crucial scene that drives this point home involves Gillian sitting and listening to her partner rant about his job. Gillian at no point looks interested or sympathetic, but he goes on about how he hates working with women filmmakers, complaining that they overthink everything. Realizing he’s probably crossed a line, he notes: “No one wants more than me for there to be parity in job opportunities for female filmmakers.” Then he gets right into the defensive language, undercutting his stated beliefs in equal opportunities for women and his position as an ally. “All the characters now have new Latino friends,” he whines, “and I have no idea how to integrate it all.” He’s constantly making claims, such as “I like to think of myself as like an ally, or at least a sensitive person, but …” and there’s always a ‘but,’ negating the aforementioned virtuousness. “I swear to god […] I’m ready to just like slam my head into the desk and just like jizz all over my computer screen so we can end the day.” Every man in the filmmaking industry that Gillian encounters more or less gives off this same energy—speaking the language of equality, while maintaining a dominant role.
Gillan seems to be asking: who do I have to kill to get ahead!?
Gillian’s escalation in crimes and build-up stays the course and is consistently funny. It’s strangely telling that she feels inclined to return something she’s stolen, but still goes on to breaking and entering, to burglary, and eventually murder. Since she’s filming all of her actions and talking to the camera regularly, it’s genuinely funny to hear the way she views her actions and talks through what she ought to do next. The disparity between Gillian’s commentary and the reality of her actions adds so much to the comedy of it all: Imagine standing in a stranger’s bedroom, videoing yourself walking around, drinking their wine, sifting through their belongings, sitting on the bed next to them, and then saying “I’m not being creepy.” Yes, you absolutely are being creepy.
The title fits the film so perfectly: Gillian clearly never thinks she’s done anything wrong, so there really isn’t anyone to blame—that is, until someone says something like why would or how could you do this? Then of course Gillian’s answer may well be Society. The movie is about the challenges of entering and excelling in an industry that’s essentially an impenetrable “boys club.”
Obviously as the movie goes on the scenarios become more and more absurd, continuously adding to the dark hilarity of it all. This movie absolutely nails comic irony. From the aforementioned disparity between what she’s saying and what she’s doing; to the way she’ll smile at the camera, as if we’re in on the “joke,” writer/director Gillian Wallace Horvat has a keen sense of humor and a great ability to translate it to film.
I Blame Society comes a few years after the Me-Too movement, but still addresses the problem of misogyny in Hollywood. Especially when Gillian questions potential producers of her film, asking: “you didn’t think I was likable, even when I had my shirt off?” followed by their predictable response: “Actually those parts were Ok.”
Given the time that’s passed since then, it’s a reminder that these problems haven’t gone anywhere: they were unearthed a few years back, but have since been buried under the performatively “woke” ideals exercised by those in power. The men who run the industry (as represented in I Blame Society) utilize other means to maintain a majority ruling while continuing to keep marginalized people out.
If you’ve not seen the movie, I absolutely recommend it: I was laughing out loud while I watched it alone. And beyond that, it’s layered with critiques and challenges to the patriarchal culture in the industry. The success rests on Gillian’s commitment, and commit she does.