The entertainment industry really kicked off when the Golden Age of Hollywood began. Almost everyone can look back on that time and realise that without the actors and actresses of yesteryear, we would not have the multi-trillion dollar industry of today.
We cannot look back without acknowledging the absolute horrors that occurred on movie sets in the early 20th Century. Many of our favourite classic starlets were subject to heinous and repetitive abuse that their restrictive contracts would not protect them from.
These contracts were written by the big-time male executives at the most prestigious Hollywood studios. It’s an unfortunately well-known fact that a drafter of these contracts, MGM executive Louis B. Mayer, would chase women around his wooden desk in his office, hoping to catch them and assault them.
Even after the contract system was scrapped in 1943, it didn’t stop the practice of the disgusting “casting couch.” Many actresses from the stunning age of classic movies have come out in recent years, detailing the blackmail and abuse they suffered at the hands of men in the industry.
A famously horrifying story known by many is the story of Judy Garland. A piece from her unpublished memoir detailed the terrors that were forced upon her while filming The Wizard of Oz. She was approached for sex by many executives, one whom she bravely named to be serial offender Louis B. Mayer. The sleazy older man would lay his hand on her left breast as she sang, saying she sang from the heart. Garland would go on to say she was grateful she didn’t sing from another part of her anatomy.
Regardaless of the sexual abuse Garland endured at the hands of studio executives, she was also subject to the physical and psychological torture of the industry at the time. The studio she was employed by gave her ‘pep pills’ to keep her alert and enthusiastic while filming for 18 hours a day, 6 days a week at the young age of 16. This is said to be the beginning of her tragic battle with substance abuse that ultimately killed her in 1969.
This type of behaviour didn’t stop. It has continued to plague the movie industry for decades, destroying the lives of young women in its wake. On October 5th, 2017, The New York Times published a story detailing decades of allegations of sexual harassment against producer Harvey Weinstein, a name too well known in the movie business for being a predatory figure. Actresses Ashley Judd and Rose McGowan were the first of many to come forward. Over the next few days more and more women came forward, accusing him of sexual harassment and rape which Mr. Weinstein continued to deny.
Over the course of the next few years, more and more accusations came to light leading to the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements which garnered support from the Hollywood elite in an effort to end sexual violence and violence against women in the film industry.
While these movements have certainly shed light on many incidences of sexual harassment and assault in the entertainment industry, it has not stopped at all. Countless producers, directors, casting agents, publicists and any man who is any man in Hollywood still sexually harass and abuse young women in the industry. They hire private investigation firms and lawyers to cover up their actions, draft NDAs and use blackmail to prevent the details of their time spent from ever seeing the light of day.
This issue is constantly ongoing. The men of this industry cannot continue to prey on young, naïve women. They cannot continue to permanently scar the girls with dreams and a bucket load of ambition. They cannot continue to abuse, harass and defame these women.
The power trip has gone on far too long. It must end. And it must end now.