Opinion Piece By: Sarah Stook
*Trigger warning: open discussion of sexual assault
Harvey Weinstein was the butt of many jokes in Hollywood. Courtney Love advised women to reject offers to go to the Four Seasons privately if asked by Weinstein. Seth McFarlane told the nominees of an award that they didn’t have to pretend to be attracted to Weinstein anymore. One article talked about how Weinstein picked a ‘new pet’ every few years.
When Weinstein was finally taken down, it caused the ripple effect that became the Me Too movement. From Hollywood to Congress, many powerful men were revealed to be predators. For some, it was a one-time assault. For others, it exposed decades of abuse. Top stars admitting to being predators and top stars admitted to being victims. Jennifer Lawrence and Uma Thurman talked about being victims of Hollywood’s greatest sins. Dustin Hoffman and Kevin Spacey were outed as sexual deviants. The best and the brightest were all involved.
The #MeToo movement is supposedly about protecting victims- and most involved are genuine. Generally, it’s about covering arses.
Those who have stood up and rightly decried sexual assault were among the ones who kept their silence or were complicit. When Roman Polanski won Best Director for The Pianist at the 2002 Academy Awards, he received a standing ovation. Now, The Pianist is an excellent film and shows the true horror of the Holocaust.
Roman Polanski, however, is a convicted rapist.
He invited a 13 year old girl to pose for pictures in his apartment. This girl posed topless, stating that she was extremely uncomfortable. She was later drugged, raped orally, anally and vaginally. It wasn’t a muddled pass. He raped an underage girl after he’d got her to pose topless. Polanski fled to Poland when he realised that he was going to get a prison term, and has avoided extradition to the United States.
Hollywood’s reverence continued seven years later. Over 100 top stars signed a petition calling for Polanski’s release from the US legal hunt. Natalie Portman, Martin Scorsese and Tilda Swinton were among some of those stars. Oprah Winfrey and Meryl Streep were not signatories, but supported the idea nonetheless.
Yet, over a decade later, many signatories have come out as vocal supporters of the #MeToo movement, condemning sexual abuse and sexism within the industry. Portman has at least apologised for what she did, but the rest have remained unsurprisingly hypocritical. Stars have happily worked with Polanski and cheered for him when it suited them, but followed the crowd when it came to #MeToo. Surely a lot of them do care about the movement, but they also happily wanted to see a child rapist freed.
Woody Allen is another case study. Now, bear in mind the fact that he has never actually been convicted of a crime, but his reputation isn’t great. He married the girl he essentially raised as a father. Dylan Farrow, another adopted daughter, has consistently stated that since she was a little girl, Allen has molested her. The name Woody Allen is synonymous with ‘creepy paedophile’ for many, yet Hollywood #MeToo supporters such as Blake Lively and Scarlett Johansson still work with him and are unapologetic about it.
Yes, the same Johansson that was a keynote speaker at the 2017 Women’s March.
It also ignores another key fact- women can be predators too. One of the main architects of the movement, Asia Argento, is believed to have given a 17 year old actor alcohol and given him oral sex, when he was classed as underage in both respects. Argento was twenty years his senior at the time. There has been little backlash for several reasons- the gender of both the alleged victim and perpetrator and the fact that Argento is high up in the #MeToo hierarchy.
We can’t deny that even if everyone in Hollywood knew, there couldn’t have been a case without victims coming forward. Those who tried were quashed, with the vast majority not coming forward. It’s no surprise many felt confident in coming forward when the floodgates were opened. Many were starting actresses, voicing dissent against a very powerful producer. It was widely believed that if you didn’t sleep with Weinstein, he would block your career.
Women’s History Month is March. Those hypocritically crying over #MeToo could do a lot. For starters, they could raise the profile of organisations that help victims of assault, de-stigmatise male victims and encourage legislation that prevents it from happening. They could look to countries with high levels of sexual assault, such as South Africa and India. Instead, they pretend to care about rich Hollywood women because it looks good to the media.
It’s clear that #MeToo was #TooLate.