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Hollywood two years on from #MeToo: where can we go from here?


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In 2017, the #Metoo and #TimesUp movements emerged sharply into the public conscious after disturbing allegations surfaced against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein.

The Time's Up Legal Defense Fund // Image Credit: Rhododendrites via WikiMedia Commons [CC BY-SA 4.0]

What followed was a series of shocking reports about men working in the Hollywood entertainment industry. These were all notable household names, many of whom were accused of abuse, harassment and in some cases physical and sexual assault. After all was said and done, nearly a hundred men, many highly revered and beloved figures in entertainment, had been put to task for their behaviour.

Harvey Weinstein is currently awaiting trial on five charges of sexually assaulting two women. He is accused of forcibly performing oral sex on one of the women in July 2006, and of raping the other woman in March 2013. If found guilty, he could spend the rest of his life in prison. The trial begins on 9th September in New York.

Kevin Spacey was fired from his starring role in Netflix’s popular show House of Cards, and removed and digitally replaced by Christopher Plummer in the film All the Money in the World. The charges against Spacey were dropped this week, however, “due to the unavailability of the complaining witness.”

Matt Lauer was fired from The Today Show after multiple reports were filed by NBC employees claiming he had acted inappropriately and attempted to force himself on women.


Image Credit: Mark Crawley from Southampton, UK, via Wikimedia Commons [CC BY 2.0]

After many of these allegations came to light, many accused men released statements (more or less) apologising for their actions and calling for a change of behaviour in Hollywood. Others denied the allegations, whilst some simply refused to apologise.

But despite many claims that they are apologetic and regretful, these men are very unlikely to actually be sorry for their actions. Instead, they are more likely to be sorry that they got caught. Getting caught means they must be held accountable for their behaviour, and that often means losing jobs, endorsements and power, or at the very least a certain level of public embarrassment. It's that that makes them apologise, rather than any sense of wrong-doing or regret.

Even though some of these men have seemingly been brought to justice (others never will be, due to various issues - including the Statute of Limitations being up in many cases), the effects do not seem to be lasting very long.

Louis CK was already back performing stand-up less than a year after admitting that the reports from five different women accusing him of sexual misconduct were true. John Lasseter, one of the former heads of Pixar Animation Studios, was fired from the company in the wake of yet another sexual harassment scandal - and then soon after was announced as the new head of Skydance animation.


Image Credit: Mark Crawley from Southampton, UK [CC BY 2.0]

Time's Up issued a statement in responsesaying that "Skydance Media’s decision to hire John Lasseter as head of animation endorses and perpetuates a broken system that allows powerful men to act without consequence."

With many more charges failing to be brought due to the Statute of Limitations on crimes, the general understanding is that Hollywood has clearly not done a thorough job when cleaning its house. The behaviour may have been punished by lost jobs and public accusations, yet no long-lasting repercussions can be enforced inforced in these situations - and many of these men have therefore slipped quietly and seamlessly back into their respective industries.  

If any positive can be found from any of these events, it is that victims of sexual assault everywhere, not just within the entertainment industry, can now feel more able to come forward with their stories. For years Hollywood was an industry that operated under a code of forced silence and intimidation. Now that many of these issues have been brought to light, victims may no longer feel as afraid as they once did about risking their jobs or reputations when confronting an abuser.

Image Credit: surdumihail on Pixabay

There are no guarantees about whether the punishments or public denouncements placed upon those who committed these crimes will have any long-lasting consequences in the entertainment industry, or elsewhere. For any positive and lasting change to be made, there needs to be continued action against sexual assault and harassment. This means not just an immediate reaction to the issue, but a deliberate attempt to create a solution for a problem that has gone on too long.

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