About a week ago, Hollywood’s elite joined to celebrate and honor one another’s successes in the industry over the past year at the 70th Golden Globe awards. This year, the most memorable part of the evening wasn’t the half-drunken acceptance speeches or the colorful, diverse array of ballgowns…it was the sea of black dresses on which the “Time’s Up” movement embarked.
Hollywood’s women all donned different shapes and styles of black as a message to sexual predators. It was beautiful and empowering to watch women both inside the entertainment industry and out supporting the “Time’s Up Now” movement, and voicing their support. While the movement itself is noble and empowering for women everywhere, we also have to ask ourselves what good it is actually doing. Is this just a way for Hollywood to save its own skin? Rose McGowan seems to think so. Back in December she tweeted the following:
“Actresses, like Meryl Streep, who happily worked for The Pig Monster, are wearing black @GoldenGlobes in a silent protest. YOUR SILENCE is THE problem,” McGowan tweeted. “You’ll accept a fake award breathlessly & affect no real change. I despise your hypocrisy. Maybe you should all wear Marchesa.”
While McGowan’s sharp criticism of the silent protest may have seemed a bit extreme at the time, it seems that she didn’t miss the mark.
First, the women who helped ignite a fire under the “Me Too” movement in the film industry by coming forward to say how Harvey Weinstein assaulted or raped them weren’t even invited to attend the Golden Globes. That’s right – Rose McGowan, Asia Argento, Annabella Sciorra, Daryl Hannah, Rosanna Arquette, and Mira Sorvino who essentially inspired “Time’s Up Now” by decrying Weinstein’s behavior were not even given the courtesy of an invite.
Asia Argento tweeted: “I can only speak for myself but not only I wasn’t invited to the #GoldenGlobes: nobody asked my opinion about #TIMESUP or to sign the letter. I support @TIMESUPNOW even though I was excluded from it. Guess I am not POWERFUL or HOLLYWOOD enough. Proud to work behind the scenes.”
But Asia and the other women shouldn’t be behind the scenes. Women like Asia should be at the forefront of the movement and not feel like they are beneath the Hollywood starlets; if this movement was legitimate, the women clad in Oscar de la Renta would have ensured that their less visible sisters received the recognition they deserved in the movement.
What’s even more disconcerting about the “Time’s Up Now” movement is that Meryl Streep, Oprah Winfrey, Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, and others had– or still have – close ties with Weinstein, but they did nothing to explicitly condemn his behavior at the awards show, nor did they take any responsibility for remaining silent about his abusive behavior. Oprah, of course, was the star of the Golden Globes, and strategically avoided any and all questions about her past with Weinstein by covering her tracks with a moving speech. Her words were beautiful, inspiring, and gave anyone with a beating heart major goosebumps. But were Oprah’s words just that – only words? They sure sounded nice, but her saying that no woman should have to say “me too” again without mentioning anything about Hollywood’s significant role in the abuse makes it seem like the real issue is being avoided.
We could say that we could give Oprah and the others the benefit of the doubt…but in doing so we would be discounting the women who have suffered abuse under Weinstein and so many other powerful people. Many in Hollywood – Glenn Close and Jessica Chastain, just to name two – have claimed how everyone knew about Weinstein’s behavior, and so it’s highly unlikely that close friends of Weinstein – what with all their connections and powerful reputations – remained completely ignorant. As Martin Luther King Jr. said “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter,” and it seems that many in Hollywood are being just that – silent.
One woman even stated how she believed Weinstein to be a decent man to do business with because she witnessed Oprah’s close relationship with him. In fact, she alleges that Weinstein forced himself on her in a hotel room in 2014, and that he had exploited his relationship with Oprah in order to get to the actress. She alleges that she met Weinstein in a hotel room because he wanted to show her his showreel…turns out he intended to show her something very different.
It seemed that the entire “Time’s Up Now” movement was focused outwards on the rest of society and did not create a call to action for women and men in the industry to make lasting change. In the letter written and signed by the actresses of Hollywood, the writers mostly address how women in Hollywood support women outside of Hollywood in dealing with sexual abuse, but they only briefly mention Hollywood in the last paragraph: “We remain committed to holding our own workplaces accountable, pushing for swift and effective change to make the entertainment industry a safe and equitable place for everyone…”
While it is definitely positive that women in Hollywood recognize the need to support women outside of Hollywood, more accountability needs to be taken for Hollywood’s silence on current and past wrongs. Stating their support is one thing, but taking the steps to show that support is quite another.
It’s easy to fawn over Oprah’s speech, and chant “Oprah 2020!”, but what action is being taken in Hollywood to prevent the propagation of the “casting couch?” If we’re being honest: nothing. A night of black dresses, a signed letter and website don’t make change. It sure looks nice and professional, but what is actually being done? What concrete action is being taken? The primary victims were ignored, and the world simply chose to ignore Oprah and Meryl’s questionable ties.
Glenn Close has described best what needs to take place in Hollywood:
“I’m angry, not just at him [Weinstein] and the conspiracy of silence around his actions, but also that the ‘casting couch’ phenomenon, so to speak, is still a reality in our business and in the world: the horrible pressure, the awful expectation put on a woman when a powerful, egotistical, entitled bully expects sexual favors in exchange for a job…”The changes must be both institutional and personal. Men and women, in positions of power, must create a work environment in which people, whose jobs depend on them, feel safe to report threatening and inappropriate behavior…”
All in all, it seemed that Hollywood needed to save face. I have no doubt that many women only had the best of intentions when it came to showing their solidarity for the “Time’s Up Now” movement, but solidarity and the semblance of it are two very different things. Words are really nice to hear, calls to action may be inspiring, but a call to action without action is worthless. It’s about time Hollywood realized that.