ROLL RED ROLL – Review by Susan Wloszczyna

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The toxicity of male behavior these days is stinking up the joint that we call our nation. From R. Kelly and Michael Jackson to the Hollywood revelations of the #MeToo movement and even the accusations against our current president and his hush money lifestyle. It hurts to learn that supposedly admirable icons like Bill Cosby failed us utterly, but even worse, that they are protected by those who benefit from not calling out such behavior for so long.

But when it truly hits home, when the enablers are small-town neighbors in a tight-knit community and the perpetrators are their teen-age football hero sons, it cuts to the very core of our country’s values. That is what takes place in the devastating doc Roll Red Roll. That title is a catchphrase for the high-school football team in Steubenville, N.Y., whose supporters share a cult-like enthusiasm that often is common in sports. What they ended up rolling over in the summer of 2012 was that, despite a long trail of social media evidence, at least two players took advantage of an underage girl who passed out after drinking in front of several young male witnesses. The local police tried to get to the bottom of what occurred but without much success.

But leave it to a local crime blogger, Alexandria Goddard, who made it her mission to get to the truth of what happened, a she combed through the social media trail left in the wake of the act and posted the most damning comments online. She was treated as a traitor and would be sued for defamation of character. But then a female investigative reporter for the Cleveland New Dealer got wind of the sexual assault allegations and soon it became an international disgrace.

I wish director Nancy Schwartzman had more than 80 minutes to reveal how people justify having something that is described as a “rape culture” take root in their community. But it is enough to remind us how easy it is to fall into the trap of “boys will be boys” excuses when you don’t want to admit the truth.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Roll Red Roll is AWFJ’s Movie of the Week for March 15, 2019

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Susan Wloszczyna

In her nearly 30 years at USA Today, Susan Wloszczyna interviewed everyone from Vincent Price and Shirley Temple to Julia Roberts and Will Smith. Her coverage specialties include animation, musicals, comedies and any film starring Hayley Mills, Sandy Dennis or hobbits. Her crowning career achievements so far, besides having Terence Stamp place his bare feet in her lap during an interview for The Limey, is convincing the paper to send her to New Zealand twice for set visits, once for The Return of the King and the other for The Chronicles of Narnia and King Kong, and getting to be a zombie extra and interview George Romero in makeup on the set for Land of the Dead. Though not impressive enough for Pulitzer consideration, she also can be blamed for coining the moniker "Frat Pack," often used to describe the comedy clique that includes Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn and Will Ferrell. Her positions have included Life section copy desk chief for four years and a film reviewer for 12 years. She is currently a senior editor for the online awards site Gold Derby. Previously, she has been a freelance film reporter and critic, contributing regularly to RogerEbert.com, MPAA’s The Credits, the Washington Post, AARP The Magazine online and Indiewire as well as being a book reviewer for The Buffalo News. She previously worked as a feature editor at the Niagara Gazette in Niagara Falls, N.Y. A Buffalo native, she earned her bachelor's degree in English at Canisius College and a master's degree in journalism from Syracuse University.