I enjoyed the ‘Scream’ trilogy (I’m not counting ‘Scream 4′ or the series). The first one was unique, funny, and tongue-in-cheek. The second one was an entertaining follow-up with a good enough twist. When I first saw ‘Scream 3‘, I thought it was stupid and unnecessary. An arbitrary backstory and an random orchestrator of the original murders. The killer behind the killers was a character we hadn’t met before. Stupid.
But upon further examination, I realize it was actually brilliant and had a lot of important themes. Maternal abandonment, slut-shaming, the power of the media, and the legacy of trauma. According to the Bible, the sins of the father (or in this case, the mother) will be visited upon the children. Sidney Prescott suffered through the entire trilogy’s events ultimately because of her mother’s sexual transgressions. We already know that Billy Loomis went on his killing spree because his mother left after discovering that Billy’s father was sleeping with Sidney’s mother. Then we learned that all the killings in ‘Scream 2’ were orchestrated by Billy’s mother.
The twist in ‘Scream 3’ is consistent with what Billy says in the first movie: “Maternal abandonment causes serious deviant behavior.” Roman Bridger (played by Scott Foley) was abandoned and rejected by his birth mother, Maureen Prescott, which led to his obsession with her and ultimately led him to groom Billy Loomis for the original murders. So in short, the entire trilogy and all the attendant killing sprees can be traced back to one woman’s sins. Sidney Prescott (and everyone around her) suffered greatly because of Maureen Prescott’s sexuality.
Why is any of this analysis about an 18-year-old movie relevant today? Because it turns out there was a root cause of Maureen Prescott’s sins, and it sounds all too similar to recent events: She was an aspiring young actress who was “taken advantage of” by an influential producer. Sound familiar? Enter John Milton, horror icon. And as a result, she left Hollywood and started on the path that would lead to all the murders in all three movies. John Milton, played by Lance Henriksen
The meta-irony of this whole trilogy in hindsight is that it was Executive Produced by Harvey Weinstein and the original film was Rose McGowan’s breakout role. If you live in the world, you know that Rose McGowan is the most outspoken of at least 60 women who have accused Harvey of sexual misconduct of some sort. Ironically, she played the type of role that would likely make her ill today. The bra-less, blonde bimbo screaming for her life, at the mercy of psychotic men. It’s life imitating art imitating life, only we didn’t know it then. Milton excuses his behavior by saying, “It was the 70’s”, and, “Nothing happened to her that she didn’t invite, in one way or another, no matter what she said afterward.” Sound familiar?
To add to the oddity, one character is named Jennifer Jolie, and another one is named Angelina Tyler. (Angelina Jolie was among Weinstein’s accusers, but when ‘Scream 3’ was released, she wasn’t yet an A-lister). And Heather Graham, another Weinstein victim, was briefly in ‘Scream 2‘.
It’s a running joke in ‘Scream 3’ that most of the actresses in the film have slept with the producer and/or director of the film, ostensibly to get their parts. It’s funny, but it’s also sad. Carrie Fisher even had a scene in the film in which she says, upon being told she resembles Carrie Fisher, “I was up for Princess Leia, but you know who gets it–the one who sleeps with George Lucas.” Ultimately we discover that the actress cast to play Sidney in ‘Stab 3’ who was supposedly the winner of a “talent search” of 50,000 girls, actually slept with the producer to get the part. Right before she is killed, she screams, “I did not FUCK that pig Milton to get a leading role just to die here with second rate celebrities like you two!” So the film touches both on the idea of rape (Maureen Prescott), and “consensual”, if coerced, sex involving a power differential (Angelina Tyler). The real-life accusations against Weinstein run the gamut of sexual misconduct from “bargaining” to “brutal rape”. In the film, there’s also victim-blaming and slut-shaming.
The interesting thing is that not one person in ‘Scream 3’ uses the word “rape”. OG Ghostface Roman Bridger said, “They fucked her three ways from Sunday, ruined her life. Ruined yours too.” (they being Milton and other Hollywood power players) The Weinstein-esque producer, John Milton, says, “Things got out of hand. Maybe they did take advantage of her. This is not the city for innocence. No charges were brought. And the bottom line is, Rena Reynolds wouldn’t play by the rules. You wanna get ahead in Hollywood, you gotta play the game, or go home.” Sounds a lot like Harvey’s “This is the way it works.” What must it have been like for Rose McGowan to watch ‘Scream 3’ — assuming she did? And Harvey for that matter? If body language could talk…
These crimes didn’t cause a murder spree, but they did indirectly, possibly, result in a suicide (Jill Messick, Rose McGowan’s former Manager, committed suicide 2 days ago). They caused countless promising young actresses to leave Hollywood and the business, disillusioned and traumatized. They affected more than just the victim and the predator. Trauma and secrets have a butterfly effect that creates ripples for generations. And you thought it was just a horror franchise. Jill Messick, died February 7, 2018
This article was inspired by this one: http://www.cracked.com/article_25311_a-forgotten-show-warned-us-about-harvey-weinstein-in-1999.html