I have been following the Harvey Weinstein story very closely. I will not reiterate what he did. Everyone knows. I have something to say on this and it’s a bit long but I hope it is not too boring. Let me preface this by saying I completely sympathize with the women involved in this. Every one of us women (and some men) have been in a similar situation – more than once, I’d wager. Please understand that I am not bringing the victims into question. I totally understand why they did not speak up. It’s a common thing to keep it to yourself and just warn others to caution. I also know that I sound a bit heartless in trying to make my point and that is not my intention but given my proclivity to deride the media, it’s understandable.
But, I get ahead of myself. Here it goes.
This morning while watching Emma Thompson’s interview on the subject (it went viral yesterday), it occurred to me that Hollywood is late to the game.
Go with me on this. Ever since the Clarence Thomas/Anita Hill incident (1991 – Thomas, as a supreme court nominee, was accused of sexually harassing Hill), the term sexual harassment has been at the forefront of workplace behavior. Corporate America stepped up its game and put everyone through sensitivity training, clearly detailing what to do if you felt you were a victim, what to do if a victim told you, what steps to take, and the consequences of such action. Managers went through specialized training, letting them know the legal consequences to themselves and the company. Everyone knew, everyone was informed. Granted, Corporate America did this to cover it’s own ass, not for any feeling about employees, but I believe it created a safer work environment for everyone.
Now, here comes Hollywood almost 30 years after the Thomas/Hill incident.
30 years of casting couch behavior! What the hell took them so long?
Hollywood has always been at the forefront of everything. They are the very narrators of our society. They set the trends, the fashion, the politics. They are the most supportive and vociferous of Gay Rights and Women’s Rights. They are the most active about Climate Change. They lend their voices and faces to good causes around the world and use their celebrity in the best ways they know how.
Why didn’t the laws of the United States seep into Hollywood as it made an impact into the rest of Corporate America? The laws apply to them, too. Or, didn’t they get the memo? How can the very group that sets the standards of our society be so far behind on the implementation?
I guess the adage that absolute power corrupts absolutely is point on in this case. Those with absolute power (Hollywood) exist in a bubble where people are paid to protect them and are given anything and everything they desire. It would seem that they even believe they are untouchable at that point. It’s no wonder that they didn’t get the memo or think it didn’t apply to them. Nothing exists outside that bubble so why worry about it?
But, what I found most interesting about Emma Thompson’s interview is that, to her, this reveal is a new phenomenon. She speaks of it as if she speaks for all women – the self-appointed feminine mouthpiece, if you will, and as if the Thomas/Hill had never happened. But for many of us, this is just history repeating itself. We have already had our revelations and younger women in the workforce typically have no qualms about calling out sexual harassment. Trust me, we all work with them. They are, for the most part, unafraid of speaking out. So, I couldn’t help but ask about Hollywood, ‘Where have you all been?’
This is not new news. This is actually old news that Hollywood is only recognizing almost 30 years after the fact. Is it perhaps that we need reminding every 20-30 years or we slip back into our old ways? If history repeats itself, maybe so. Or, did Hollywood really miss things the first time around?
This really just solidifies what I have known all along: that celebrities are completely disconnected from the real world. Why else would they be so shocked and saddened? Or, is it that it’s just because they are celebrities and trend-setters, that we need to care about it more. They have their free, open mic with which to pontificate to us lowly and unwashed masses living outside their bubbles so we had best listen up thus, perpetuating the us vs. them mentality.
Why, then, do we allow them to set trends, fashion, politics, if they are so far removed from reality?
Feel free to discuss to your heart’s content. This is a total safe space for those wishing respectful conversation.