RORY: And then [Mrs Kim] chased me halfway down the street with the hose. It was like a scene from Silkwood.
Silkwood is a 1983 biographical drama film directed by Mike Nichols and starring Meryl Streep, based on the book Who Killed Karen Silkwood? by Howard Kohn. Karen Silkwood was a nuclear power whistleblower and union activist who died in a car crash in 1974 while investigating unsafe practices at the plutonium plant where she worked. Although the film ends with her death, in real life a 1979 lawsuit ended with the jury awarding $10 million in damages to the Silkwood estate, with the company settling out of court for $1.38 million.
The film was a commercial and critical success, with Meryl Streep receiving praise for her performance, as well as supporting actors Kurt Russell and Cher. Silkwood was released on DVD in 1999, so Lorelai and Rory would have seen it within the last couple of years.
In the film, Karen Silkwood and her fellow workers become contaminated by radiation, which the nuclear plant officials try to blame on Silkwood. The decontamination process is brutal, ending with being blasted in the face with a hose – now known as a “Silkwood shower”. Rory compares her treatment from Mrs Kim with Karen Silkwood’s decontamination, as well as the suggestion that she is being unfairly blamed for the termite infestation.
Mrs Kim’s behaviour is, of course, comically wrong. Rory cannot “carry” termites to Mrs Kim’s store, and spraying someone or something with water won’t get rid of termites.