“Fuck It!” Streep, Hanks, Spielberg Talk About Freedom of the Press in Milan

Steven Spielberg and the lead actors (Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks) of his latest cinematic oeuvre, presented The Post in Italy. The film that recently won three National Board of Review Awards and was nominated for the most prestigious film accolades, has arrived in the Italian hub of journalism and publishing: Milan.

The Post is undoubtably a work that looks sentimentally to the newsroom of the printing press, where the linotype machine and the hot metal typesetting system would make the walls of every newspaper office tremble with anticipation. At the same time, themes that resonate today weave around a 20th century story.

Katharine Graham (Meryl Streep) was the first female publisher of a major American newspaper (The Washington Post) to have exposed a massive cover-up of government secrets that spanned throughout four U.S. presidents. The topic is extremely current, in consideration of an American President who would like to censor what he defines as ‘fake news.’

Spielberg explained how freedom of expression is still under siege: “Free press is a guardian of democracy, that is what I was raised to believe and find is the incontrovertible truth. It was under attack in 1971 when Nixon tried to censor the Pentagon papers from being released,” he said. The director added how the pendulum of time seems to newly present this threat to free press. Meryl Streep continued along these lines, pondering upon the way the script was written before the election, in the expectation of a female presidency: “After the election more hostility to freedom of the press and women came, and this became the story of how much we did not achieve.”

In The Post we see how the role of Editor Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks), was crucial in triggering Kay Graham to publish the government secrets. His deontology was strongly elicited by the sense of competition: he wanted to surpass The New York Times in revealing the documents. As Tom Hanks revealed, “Challenge drives my character.” Bradless was the one who instilled courage in Graham, transforming The Washington Post in one of the major American newspapers that made Nixon resign from office after the Watergate scandal.

A man was determining for the empowerment of a woman. Ben Bradlee encouraged Kay Graham to establish her thoughts and actions. She had always been in the shadow of the men that had preceded her at The Post, first her father and then her husband. This subject matter obviously resonates with the current Hollywood movements that are tackling gender politics, such as Time’s Up and MeToo.

As Spielberg illustrated, the battle of the sexes is an arcane conundrum that is still evolving, “Women have tried through history to break the mould where men tried to place them in. It’s been ebb and flow. During World War II they proved their leadership. When men had to leave home to fight, women were leading industries. But at the end of the war, men came home and women returned to the kitchen and did not find a way to capitalize those years,” he said and added, “Men have to learn to control themselves, behave adequately and take ‘No’ for an answer. Until that time we will have a power struggle. I hope this film has inspired women who have difficulty finding their own voice and finally find the courage to make their own decisions and say Fuck It!”