Growing Pains

The current Hollywood sex abuse hysteria follows a pattern set in American universities during the first wave of political correctness in the late eighties and early nineties, wherein charges of sexual abuse by men are encouraged, accepted unquestioningly and quickly leveraged into some form of institutional loot–departments in colleges, board seats in the corporate world, parts in Hollywood.

Hollywood gets to come late to the appropriation phase of American history that it’s been so very instrumental in bringing about. That is, it gets its turn now to be shaken down by the fringes, starting with the fringiest of all, actresses.

Therein lies part of the problem. Unlike universities, where captured tax dollars provide a haven for theorists who might starve in the gutter without them, Hollywood is a serious business about serious money and much closer to the sort of meritocracy it too has been denouncing as racist, patriarchal, etc.

The universities can endure, apparently, thousands of intellectual mediocrities, whereas Hollywood can’t. The universities manage to get away with replacing solid academics with crap theory, but Hollywood is a business. You don’t replace good directors with bad and get away with it for long. And there aren’t enough female directors and producers to replace the voracious Harvey Weinsteins of the world.

So just who appropriates what and how remains a difficult question. At some point women might long for the quaint custom of the casting couch, and its relative simplicity.

The Hollywood Reporter:

A leaderless group “became a brand overnight,” say insiders, but the anti-harassment crusade now seeks structure and a real leader amid skepticism about CAA’s role and “movie star cliquey” meetings. On March 1, members of the Time’s Up anti-harassment organization met the media to deliver a 60-day progress report on its campaign for “basic fairness in the workplace,” as Bad Robot co-CEO Katie McGrath put it.

The timing was right. Hollywood being what it is, and people being what they are, there has been speculation and some suspicion about where Time’s Up came from, who gets to participate in the group and what its priorities are. At the meeting with the press, A Wrinkle in Time director Ava DuVernay assured that even though Time’s Up “started so splashy on the red carpet, there’s real work being done.”

 Ava DuVernay is going to want some of that Time’s Up largess after her weird-looking Oprah film fails.

 Some of the distrust around Time’s Up can be traced to its beginnings in late 2017 in the crisis atmosphere that prevailed after accusations against Harvey Weinstein became public. Early meetings took place at CAA, with the agency’s chief innovation officer Michelle Kydd Lee and agents Maha Dakhil, Hylda Queally and Christy Haubegger among the founders. When certain A-list actresses (such as Kristen Stewart and Emma Stone) and major players repped at other agencies (such as Shonda Rhimes, handled by ICM Partners) were invited to meetings while their agents were not, some suspected that CAA might use the gatherings to try to poach clients. “There are people cynical enough to say it’s about getting Shonda,” says a producer who is a member of the organization.

The great unappreciated irony of Hollywood’s self-inflicted sexual hysteria is that it’s hard to imagine it without the Pussy Hat protests against Trump. Weinstein’s exposure was like ripping a hull in Hollywood’s side in this increased pressure. Further irony in that Trump was boasting of celebrity sexual advantage and speaking frankly of a system most working Hollywood women were as complicit of or indifferent to as similarly situated male colleagues–who generally don’t have the opportunity to trade on sex if they desire.

Mighty interesting times.

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