Genre: Non-Fiction, Crime
Published: October 15, 2019 by: Little, Brown and Company
Rating: 5/5 stars
CW: detailed descriptions of sexual assault against both women and minors
In 2017, Ronan Farrow, a reporter working with NBC news, was led to a story about numerous sexual abuse allegations made against one of Hollywood's most powerful producers: Harvey Weinstein. In the months following, Farrow made attempts to put together the pieces of this story that soon would unravel Hollywood as we know it. But threats by the producer and by NBC itself proved to be challenging to Farrow's career and his own safety. Catch and Kill is a detailed description of the steps Farrow took to bring this story to public eyes despite all of the people in power advising him not to.
I was very late to the game when it came to this book. But finally I saw it at the library over the summer and I just knew it was time to pick it up. I remember when the #MeToo movement, which was started by Tarana Burke in 2006, made waves across Hollywood, and quite frankly, the world. I remember men saying this was a "witch hunt," and that pretty soon, no man would be safe. I remember news organizations documenting Weinstein's eventual arrest and how some who once defended him cowardly declined to talk about it. I know people called this one of the "best kept secrets in Hollywood," until Farrow decided enough was enough. This text was overall a powerful crime novel about how men in positions of power work to abuse that power through physical and emotional force against innocent victims, and how victims are often scared into silence.
The only thing I really knew about Farrow before going into this book is that he is the son of Mia Farrow and Woody Allen. I was wondering if Allen's own sexual abuse would be mentioned within this text, but Farrow handles this issue with sensitivity and transparency, especially considering how Allen's victim was Farrow's sister Dylan. Farrow acknowledges that this story is not his to tell, as his sister has documented for years Allen's abuses against her, but he also acknowledges that Allen's abuse continues to perpetuate how men in Hollywood seek to abuse and cover up. I really appreciated how Farrow took every step to establish himself as an unbiased journalist simply reporting on an issue, and not tying anything to his family name or stories that are not his to tell. He gives respect to his sister and also respect to himself by not speaking on issues personal to him. In handling this situation, he showed what a great reporter he is by refusing to let this issue go unsaid, but also respecting the victims involved.
The book was well-organized and easy to follow. Farrow handles everything sequentially, beginning from when he first started investigating the story, to more recent times when similar abuses were also being shared. I think he really did well to establish a recognizable timeline to the story, despite some of the abuses going back decades. He took care to be clear in his reporting of significant dates and significant connections that needed to be made between these dates and the context of Weinstein's crimes. He also is able to keep descriptions of crimes or descriptions of victims brief and private if needed. He doesn't overshare if it is not needed, especially considering the overall sensitivity of this story.
One thing that I appreciate that Farrow does do, is namedrop when applicable. Since Weinstein was such a powerful figure in Hollywood, a lot of folks in Hollywood had much to say (or rather not say) about this issue. Farrow makes clear that some of the most well-loved, writers, directors, actors and actresses of Hollywood knew things, but didn't say anything. Or, they found it difficult to believe that Weinstein would do such a thing. Farrow doesn't dance around details that need to be addressed. He makes clear that those who didn't speak up are not on trial, and yet, this book does put into perspective how often in the movie and tv industry, people know things but choose to stay silent to protect their own careers. Now some people needed their careers in order to keep living. But some, had enough privilege that speaking on these issues would not have had an affect on them. And yet, they chose the easy way out. Why was this? Well, Farrow doesn't get the chance to really interview everyone in depth. But he did reach out to many recognizable names who knew or worked with Weinstein to get their opinions. And I was shocked by how many declined to comment.
Farrow also takes care to fact-check with The New Yorker, the news organization that published his piece. He doesn't let anything he says be up to assumption or opinion, rather every single bombshell he drops has evidence to back it up, which is so important when relying on good reporting. These facts are shocking, but needed so that Farrow can help the victims in this situation have the right to credible news reporting. I can't imagine the stress that Farrow and others helping him were under this time period, but truly they were doing such important work to help raise awareness of this story.
Overall, this book is a must-read for future journalists, crime writers, or those who simply know a bit about the MeToo movement but want to know more about how and why it affected Hollywood. Farrow's dedication to the field of journalism cannot be forgotten, nor can the brave stories of Weinstein's victims be forgotten either.
Have you read Catch and Kill? What did you think?
Emily @ Paperback Princess