No one dares leave their email for more than a few minutes. God forbid they miss the latest report of sexual misconduct, or the latest project to be canceled because of a new accusation.
Moment by moment, hour by hour, bad actors (by which I mean Bad Actors) are being exposed and excised from the Hollywood body politic like cancerous growths.
Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Brett Ratner, Louis C.K., the accusations come fast and the consequences faster. Harvey was dumped by every organization in the entertainment industry including the Motion Picture Academy but it took more than a week.
By the time last Friday rolled around, Louis C.K. — whose skeevy behavior apparently did not include rape — was fired by more Holllywood entertainment companies in 24 hours than he had monologue jokes. HBO, Netflix, FX, Universal Pictures and The Orchard all declared him persona non grata — down to removing his old shows from streaming platforms — even though the guy apologized.
It’s a new day and the rules that prevailed for decades are out the window. Zero tolerance for sexual misconduct is the order of the day, with Rose McGowan leading the revolutionary army. (Or, as she calls it, #RoseArmy.)
But now, admitting wrongdoing and promising to change is not sufficient anymore. Louis C.K. tried that and it didn’t help him. Prosecution and due process is completely irrelevant. If you’re accused, best to pack your bags.
Panic at what seems like a certain hysteria is gripping the industry.
Those still undiscovered — the other bad actors — inwardly cringe and figure out how to get out of town for that urgent meeting in Shanghai. Everybody else is wondering — what is happening? What just happened?
Friends from far-off places and family call to earnestly ask: Why now? Why the avalanche of accusations, why the roaring rejection by companies, why the seeming lack of distinction between obnoxious flirting, a too-insistent proposition and rape?
I will tell you why. It’s because — if I may speak for all womankind — women are over this s—.
Because for too many decades, there has been a cold disconnect between publicly stated values of gender equality and this seedy behavior toward women. For too long, women were afraid to come forward because they felt they would be disbelieved. Some of them figured they may as well take the money and shut up, since that was the best they could hope for.
Then Bill Cosby — beloved Bill Cosby — was revealed to be an abuser of contemptible proportions, for decades, while we publicly adored him. (He’s not been convicted of anything at this time, but raise your hand if you think three dozen women are lying.)
Then Donald Trump’s “Access Hollywood” tape was released, and decent people thought it would disqualify him for the presidency. And it didn’t. Now we have a p—y-grabber-in-chief in the White House.
What we are seeing today is the pent-up rage of women disrespected and disbelieved, objectified sexually and expected to take it in stride, honey — not just in Hollywood but across the spectrum of Western society.
And the collateral damage includes the movies that were made by the now-pariah people, TV projects now put on hold. Awards-season movies that Weinstein can’t release. Sundance titles they’ll never champion. This means innocent peoples’ jobs and liveihoods, this has implications for shareholders of media and entertainment companies. The ripple effects will continue for months.
It’s a different day in Hollywood, that’s for sure.
I don’t know where this ends up. I can’t help but feel that contemporary porn culture, contemporary dating culture — all those years of obsessing over male pleasure instead of authentic sexual connection — has something to do with it.
What I know is that this isn’t ending anytime soon. The cleaning of Hollywood’s house continues.