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Three Billboards, Lots of Women & The Texas Primary

While there are many who live for Superbowls, NBA championships and the Olympics of any season, these generally are not the competitions that melt my butter. Give me a competitive Oscar race any day. And in those years when the Texas primary takes place a couple of days later, so much the better.

Hollywood and red state Texas politics typically have nothing to do with each other. Usually. But there’s nothing usual about 2018.

It seems obvious that Frances McDormand’s performance and her character in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri have resonated with me. After all, this is the third time in as many months that I’ve referenced them in this column. It may be that this story of a woman who goes from inwardly frustrated, to provocatively confrontational, to downright criminal—taking matters into her own hands—appeals to something in me that is just below the surface. 

And I don’t seem to be the only one. Last September, festival audiences voted the movie the People’s Choice Award as the most popular film at the Toronto International Film Festival. Now, Ms. McDormand is the frontrunner to win Best Actress, having already won the Screen Actors Guild award, a Golden Globe, the BAFTA (British Oscar) and a slew of others. Tellingly, one of those lesser awards came from the Women Film Critics Circle. 

The Harvey Weinstein scandal broke in October, and with it came the demise of the careers of badly behaving men (that’s an understatement) from Hollywood to Washington. Suddenly, the anger of women—and a number of men—was real and present. #MeToo became real and present, too. Three Billboards opened in November and found its audience, having already earned back ten times its budget. So, clearly, I am not the only one.

But unlike Mildred in the movie, most women are not throwing Molotov cocktails or even renting billboards to express their frustration and downright anger. They’re running for office. And, if early voting in Texas is any indicator (and I think it is), they’re showing up at the polls.

More than 500 women, from both major parties, are running for the Senate, the House of Representatives and governorships across the country. When you get to the local level, those numbers increase exponentially. Based on the political fliers that show up daily in my mailbox, there are women running for the state legislature, for judgeships and most every elected position in North Texas, if not the whole state. And it’s a big state, as all Texans like to point out.

Even if you don’t live in Texas, check in on what happens here next Tuesday. It will be the first big test (sorry, I couldn’t resist) of how much influence women are going to exert in this year’s general election. All those women voters voting for all those women candidates…well, you get the picture.     

And whether or not the “Blue Wave” that Democrats hope for and Republicans fear will be real or not, it’s the “Women’s Wave” that seems to be a sure thing. Both parties (and their candidates) ignore women (and their votes) at their own peril.

Don’t believe me? Well, Three Billboards is playing at a theater near you.



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