CN: Sexual assault,
On surface level, the “Time’s Up” campaign is a great way to bring awareness to the fight against sexual harassment, both in Hollywood and in the everyday world. Current statistics show that one in four women and one in six men will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. With such high figures, it is obviously important that something is done on a wide scale, in order to draw attention; so that measures can be taken to try and reduce sexual harassment and assault. You might think: what better platform to address this than at the Golden Globes? If every actor were to wear black, that would certainly draw attention.
However, when you about who is a part of this campaign, and examine their actions, it brings to light some disappointing truths. Fighting against any issue is always going to be complex and difficult, but one of the responsibilities that comes with being vocal is consistency and continued support. Unfortunately, this cannot be said for all of those who are making a statement by wearing black to the Golden Globes.
Throughout 2017, many survivors began to speak up against sexual predators within the film business. Popular film directors, actors, and producers were outed as perpetrators of sexual harassment. Allegations were made against Casey Affleck just before the year began, followed by actress Rose McGowan sharing her story of being raped by Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. This triggered a number of other women to come forward with similar accusations, and ultimately contributed to the birth of the #MeToo hashtag, through which both celebrities and fans were inspired to share their own stories of sexual harassment.
“There is a real problem within Hollywood with acknowledging and standing against sexual harassment”
Two further accusations were made against Roman Polanski, who was previously arrested and charged with five offenses against a thirteen-year old in 1977, before being charged with unlawful sexual intercourse; upon which he fled the US to avoid imprisonment. The number of people that have come forward against sexual abusers is incredible. One particular story that gained a large amount of media attention was that of Dylan Farrow. Dylan Farrow accused her adoptive father, and Hollywood Director, Woody Allen of sexual abuse back in 2014, but during the past year the story resurfaced. Farrow had written an open letter about the abuse she received at the hands of Allen, and had addressed questions to many of the people that worked with and supported Allen – such as Louis CK (who was also revealed to be a perpetrator of sexual harassment in 2017) and Alec Baldwin. And this is where the hypocrisy and twisted truth of the “Time’s Up” movement begins to surface.
A notable number of celebrities that attended the Golden Globes have refused to speak out against certain sexual predators within Hollywood, and some have even offered their support towards them. Justin Timberlake wore a black suit to the event, and even tweeted a picture using the campaign’s hashtag, and yet he recently worked with Woody Allen on the 2017 release “Wonder Wheel”. He has yet to comment on the allegations against Allen, but did condemn Harvey Weinstein, which shows his double standards. If he really cares about the cause as much as he wishes to portray to the public that he does, why doesn’t he address the allegations against Allen? It seems as if Timberlake will only be vocal about sexual harassment when it suits him.
Another celebrity who has worked with Woody Allen in the past, but turned up wearing black, is Blake Lively. She starred in “Café Society” in 2016, and described Allen as “empowering to women”, going further to add that “it’s amazing what Woody has written for women.” How can a man who sexually abused his daughter for years be empowering to women? It seems absurd, and yet the list of supporters seems almost endless. Natalie Portman, Michelle Williams, Ewan McGregor, Emma Stone and Meryl Streep all turned up wearing black, and yet they still condone known sexual predators by refusing to comment on any allegations against them, even though they are fully aware of them. Ignorance is bliss for them, it seems. Other Hollywood stars such as Colin Firth, Kate Winslet, Cate Blanchett, Tom Hiddleston and Kristen Stewart all also support and work with said abusers, and that isn’t even everyone. There is a real problem within Hollywood with acknowledging and standing against sexual harassment, and it sometimes seems that many are willing to stay silent in order to benefit them. If they can continue to make movies and get paid due to these sexual abusers, then they won’t speak ill of them at all.
“Blake Lively described Woody Allen as ’empowering to women'”
There are so many other things that could be done instead of simply turning up to a black tie event wearing black. Beyond the fact that many people at awards ceremonies wear black anyway, and it’s just not enough. Celebrities have an obligation to lift up and amplify the voices of survivors of sexual abuse. Instead of starting their own fund, they could have donated to an already existing charity that has knowledge and experience of knowing how to distribute any money fairly and evenly. Obviously, stars should stop agreeing to work with known predators. Perhaps a more noticeable statement would have been if women hadn’t have turned up to the Golden Globes at all. That might have grabbed attention and had the whole world talking.
This small act of wearing black is most likely going to fade from everyone’s memory within a few days or weeks. I fear that the reality is that most of these celebrities are just feigning support for this issue in order to not receive backlash from disappointed fans and critics. That they are turning up wearing black, with activists on their arm, and posing for photos to impress us.
This is not the way to combat sexual harassment. Support for this is not simply an accessory that you can wear whenever it suits you. It shouldn’t just be performative – but somehow so many stars have disguised their acceptance as activism.
We mustn’t allow it to go unnoticed.