Meet the New Clause, Same as the Old Clause…

One front in feminism is women doing what they’ve always done, regulating sex. Only now that effort has to contort itself around the demands of sexual liberation. It took a while, but with the #MeToo putsch feminism has brought the morality clause back to Hollywood

Sex abuse insurance? It could happen. Broad language allowing stars and distributors to be dropped if accused of misconduct is beginning to be included in negotiations in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey situations. Moral turpitude? It’s a concept that showbiz talent soon will be well-acquainted with. The term, which means “an act or behavior that gravely violates the sentiment or accepted standard of the community,” is popping up in contracts of actors and filmmakers in the wake of the #MeToo movement that has rocked Hollywood.
Fox is just one of the studios that is trying to insert broad morality clauses into its talent deals, giving it the ability to terminate any contract “if the talent engages in conduct that results in adverse publicity or notoriety or risks bringing the talent into public disrepute, contempt, scandal or ridicule.”

After the Fatty Arbuckle scandal Hollywood studios added morality clauses to stars’ contracts, bowing to traditional morality of the time which is now completely absent. What remains is, to give the feminists their due, the exploitation of vulnerable women. I have a hard time thinking that’s become less of a problem than before; I imagine in our porn-ified present it’s much worse.

But most of the exploitation is entered into willingly (as so many of the accusations demonstrate), and besides that system being the seedbed for real coercive sexual abuse, it’s a scandal all its own that so many women are corrupted and ruined this way. I suspect many women disdain this but can’t say so, and work through feminism to make it stop.

The niche industry in morality clauses for big Hollywood contracts may prove quite lucrative. But it may prove stifling, to say the least. The accusations have gotten quite particular at this point. Who’s going to meet muster when all it takes to wreak an entire project is a drunken pass years before? Are good actors not hard enough to find?

One producer insists that restrictive clauses will spark an inability to finance movies. “If there is anything downstream that impedes the ability of a financier to recoup his investment, the financier will not invest,” says this producer, adding that bond companies do not currently address the potential of a key figure negatively impacting a film because of a sex scandal. Film Finances Inc., the top bond completion company working in Hollywood, declined to comment.

“There’s definitely an opportunity for a company to come up with some sort of sex abuse insurance,” says the producer. That’s a point echoed by Lichter. “The studios should start thinking about whether there’s some kind of insurance for this type of thing,” she says. “This is a whole new territory.”

MeToo is leaving a lot of wealth destruction in the wake of its seizure of Hollywood power. I’m not sure there isn’t a lot more of the former than the latter. What it’s also forcing is the mis-allocation of resources, in this instance the sudden need to insure the sexual probity of actors. What’s next, rock stars? Do we still have those?

How much is Diversity costing Hollywood? How much is its “diversity tax”? How much will its feminism tax be?

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