Complicit, by Winnie M Li
Complicit confronts the epidemic of sexual abuse in the film industry, following a young female producer as she begins to build her career, before being caught up in a #MeToo style scandal.
Author Winnie M Li drew on her experiences working as a film producer when writing the novel.
Reading group questions
1. Does Complicit reflect the glitz and glamour we expect to find in the film industry, or does it paint a darker picture?
2. In Complicit, Sarah begins her career in the film industry with an unpaid internship, before moving on to an entry level role within the same company. Throughout the story we see her working incredibly hard for little reward. What does Sarah’s career trajectory tell us about class in the creative industries?
3. Actress Holly Randolph is forced to die her hair for a breakout role in Furious Her, and this new look becomes her trademark. Is the standard of physical appearance demanded of female actors still more extreme than that demanded of their male counterparts, or are men increasingly impacted by body image?
4. The journalist who interviews Sarah for the expose on Hugo North is a man from a rich, well-known family. What impact does this have on the power dynamic between journalist and interviewee as Sarah reveals her story?
5. Is Sarah to blame for some of Hugo North’s actions, or is she an innocent victim? Should she have reported him to the police?
6. At times, both Sarah and her boss, Sylvia, are criticised for not stopping Hugo North’s bad behaviour. How does this reflect the idea that women are held responsible for the men in their lives, in a way that does not apply to men?
7. If Sarah had been more open with friends and family about her experiences with Hugo, do you think it would have changed the direction of her career?
8. Sarah’s family struggle to understand her career choices. Do you think parents are less inclined to encourage their children to pursue a creative career?
9. The term ‘casting couch’ describes one of the darker aspects of the film industry. Do you think the #MeToo movement and other recent scandals will be enough to enact positive change?
10. Is it possible for artists in the film industry to keep their creative integrity, or will money and fame always win out?
11. Who would you cast in a film adaptation of Complicit?
12. After reading Complicit, would you want to work in the film industry?