Have the Hollywood abuse floodgates opened?

The allegations of sexual harassment and rape against movie producer Harvey Weinstein (who has admitted bad behaviour and committed himself to a ‘clinic’ but denies ‘non-consensual sex’) has raised an issue that has been swept under the red carpet for a long time.

A number of big name actresses have now spoken out, adding attention and weight to the issue. It has also spread much further than Hollywood stars, with online actions pointing out how widespread and insidious sexual harassment is.

There is a danger that it could go too far, with complaints ranging from rape and professional coercion to leering. And there are also valid concerns about making accusations public and ostracising people who have not been found guilty.

But while there will inevitably be overreach, exaggerated and possible false allegations, and potentially unfair consequences for some, this is a dirty secret that is long overdue for a big clean up. Some collateral damage may be unfortunate but it’s necessary to lance the boil.

That’s if the publicity is sustained and it results in major attitudinal and behavioural changes.

New York Times: Harvey Weinstein’s Fall Opens the Floodgates in Hollywood

Harvey Weinstein is certainly not the first powerful man publicly and credibly accused of sexually harassing or abusing women in recent years.

Since 2015, the Fox News chairman Roger Ailes, the Fox News prime-time host Bill O’Reilly and the comedian and actor Bill Cosby have suffered professional, financial or reputational setbacks after numerous women told stories of their sexual misconduct.

Those stories dominated news cycles, to be sure, but the outcry accompanying Mr. Weinstein’s downfall seems louder and more impassioned — perhaps because Mr. Weinstein’s accusers include stars like Ashley Judd, Angelina Jolie and Gwyneth Paltrow.

“I think this is a watershed moment,” said the producer Gail Berman, who had top jobs at Paramount Pictures and the Fox network.

That became clear on Sunday, when Facebook, Instagram and Twitter were flooded with messages from women who used the hashtag #MeToo to acknowledge that they had dealt with sexual harassment or assault.

There is no doubt it has been a widespread and serious problem.

The Oscar-winning director Kathryn Bigelow applauded the movement. “The democratization of the spread of information can finally move faster than a powerful media mogul’s attempts to bury it,” she said by email.

Powerful forces have been largely able to sweep things under the red carpet until now.

Kicked off by reports on the allegations against Mr. Weinstein, the outpouring came a little more than a year after The Washington Post published leaked excerpts from an “Access Hollywood” tape in which Donald J. Trump, then a candidate for president, boasted of groping women.

Melinda McGillivray, who stepped forward last year to accuse Mr. Trump of groping her at his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida in 2003, told BuzzFeed last week that Ms. Paltrow and Ms. Jolie had an impact her accusation did not because of their star power. (Mr. Trump has denied harassment accusations.)

The problem goes right to the top.

Mr. Trump’s election had put some women here on guard against a return to male misbehavior that was more common 40 years ago. And one list circulating among ranking female executives in the industry has tracked a string of promotions of men to senior jobs — at Apple and AMCSony and HuluFox and CBS — amid fear that progress for women has stalled since November.

“Most of the available senior management television jobs this year have gone to men,” said Katie O’Connell, a chief executive of Platform One Media, and formerly the chief executive of Gaumont Television. “While those men were all qualified, it does highlight diminished access for these highest-level positions for women in 2017.”

It’s difficult to know how much is merit, and how much may be prejudice and punishment for not being promiscuous.

At issue now is whether or not Hollywood can continue its old way of doing business, with self-styled “outlaw” executives and auteurs getting away with sexual misconduct as lawyers and publicists protect them.

“I think it’s upsetting and devastating, all of the stories that have come out,” said Nina Jacobson, a film producer who was formerly the president of the Walt Disney Company’s Buena Vista Motion Pictures Group.

“But I think the floodgates being opened is something that had to happen and that finally brings a subject to the surface that has sort of gone unchecked for countless years.”

Ms. Jacobson, the film producer, said, “There’s an importance to a careful vetting and a careful reposting and not just a free-for-all.”

Some care needs to be taken to be as fair and just as possible, while still enabling victims to come forward without fear.

There doesn’t seem to be much chance of a leading example being set from Trump to confront this problem, but along with Weinstein the president could become a public example of an insidious problem that needs to be once and for all dealt to.

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27 Comments

  1. High Flying Duck

     /  October 19, 2017

    The Hollywood problem seems to be on a whole other level:

    “Abuse of young boys rife in Hollywood, says Corey Feldman, after cocaine fuelled parties held by Hollywood paedophiles”

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/entertainment/news/article.cfm?c_id=1501119&objectid=11934523

    A very sick place run by people who do not think rules apply to them.

    • David

       /  October 19, 2017

      “A very sick place run by people who do not think rules apply to them.”

      It has always been this way, I’m surprised anyone is in the least bit surprised.

      • High Flying Duck

         /  October 19, 2017

        The filth has been hidden for years within a righteous self-reverential cloud of smug moral superiority expounded by insulated ivory tower types who are painfully unaware of the meaning of hypocrisy.

        • David

           /  October 19, 2017

          Well there is that. In the past actors really were only regarded as upmarket prostitutes. They did not position themselves as a moral force.

  2. Joe Bloggs

     /  October 19, 2017

    Brando said it best: “Most of the successful people in Hollywood are failures as human beings.”

  3. David

     /  October 19, 2017

    When Mike Pence revealed he doesn’t dine alone with women other than his wife, there was outrage, interesting contrast….

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/mar/31/mike-pence-doesnt-eat-alone-women-speaks-volumes

    • Gezza

       /  October 19, 2017

      Different reason though.

      • I saw that as being a wise move & can’t understand the outrage (I can’t understand anyone finding it exciting enough to be outraged by it, really)

        To me it was a case of prevention-the scandal-hounds would have no luck trying to make something out of nothing-rather than have headlines about Mike Pence’s love retreat or whatever the headline would have been.

        • I had forgotten the Guardian’s neurotic response. I wonder what that journo would have written had Mike Pence been dining out every night with a different woman. Sexist pig-leaves his poor wife at home every night-womanising MCP…..

          It didn’t occur to me that he and his wife had decided to make sure that there could never be a gutter press hoohah about him having an innocent meal with a woman which, to the gutter press and their readers would have meant that the meal was followed by a night of unbridled passion.

      • David

         /  October 19, 2017

        Not at all, for exactly those reasons.

  4. Blazer

     /  October 19, 2017

    don’t like the Daily Beast..plenty of info available..
    The VIP Paedophile Ring: What’s The Truth? is a Panorama programme, shown at 22:35 BST on 6 October on BBC One – catch up on BBC iPlayer.
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4238188/Sir-Edward-Heath-paedophile-says-police-chief.html

    • David

       /  October 19, 2017

      Did they mention the accuser is an imprisoned pedophile who is now likely to face charges of wasting police time?

      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/09/24/fantasist-facing-charges-false-ted-heath-paedophile-claims/

      • Blazer

         /  October 19, 2017

        no but…’More than 40 people came forward as a result of the televised appeal but the vast majority of the claims have been dismissed, including several made by fantasists.

        A source has said that one of those faces possible charges for wasting police time but may escape with a caution. The source said: “They are prosecuting somebody who they have shown to be pedalling lies. It is likely to end with a caution.”Never an easy path when suspects and witnesses are…dead.

  5. Blazer

     /  October 19, 2017

    the Profumo affair with the delectable Mandy Rice-Davies and Christine Keeler is quite tame compared to these Tory abusers…
    https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/mar/17/westminster-child-abuse-paedophile-ring-failure

  6. Blazer

     /  October 19, 2017

    Even royalty are not immune…
    ‘the woman, now 30, alleges she had been made a sex slave by the 54-year-old prince’s disgraced tycoon pal Jeffrey Epstein, 61.’-‘Virginia had claimed he slept with her three times when she was a 17-year-old – once on a Caribbean island where the age of consent is 18.'[

    • High Flying Duck

       /  October 19, 2017

      Is this your version of “they did it too”? sad,

      • Blazer

         /  October 19, 2017

        this is my version of human nature is the same whether you are a Hollywood mogul,in Parliament,a street sweeper or even …royalty.

    • David

       /  October 19, 2017

      Bill Clinton took 26 flights on Jeffrey Epstein’s private jet….it’s unclear if Hillary was along for the ride.

      • Blazer

         /  October 19, 2017

        he’ll be right,very high morals and …the epitome of…loyal.

  7. Blazer

     /  October 19, 2017

    you are easily satisfied…from the article..’Quite apart from the instinct to cover up rumours of abuse, another attitude was widely shared at the time by the press and public, too. “There was a universal desire to ignore it,’’ says another of the retired MPs interviewed. “We just didn’t understand it. It wasn’t deliberate neglect, more a lack of experience,” explains a

    Labour woman of cabinet rank. “Forty years ago attitudes were more relaxed,” explains Labour veteran and Old Etonian Tam Dalyell.
    ‘There was a feeling at the time that you didn’t make trouble for other MPs,” recalls Dalyell, one of parliament’s great troublemakers for 40 years, but on political, not personal, matters. Dalyell shared the general distaste for Geoffrey Dickens, when the Tory populist made paedophile allegations – now being re-examined by police – in the 80’s-‘Dickens was proved right in naming diplomat Sir Peter Hayman, later jailed. ‘
    plenty of smoke….NZ judge Lowell well out of her depth,did not help matters,.