Oprah’s performance at the Golden Globes was inspirational and motivational. She proved that there can be coherent billionaires competent enough to hold office.
Hollywood is blessed with many articulate and reasonable persons who bring brilliance and life to their roles. Over the decades, we have seen its annual awards shows routinely used by actors and activists to promote political viewpoints and social causes, from opposing blacklists to supporting Native American Indians.
Many of these statements, like the ones this week speaking out against sexual harassment, have spurred national debate. Stars attending this year’s ceremonies, wearing black to drive home the point, were unified in their condemnation of sexual exploitation and couch casting.
These stars damn well had a right to be angry at the unconscionable practice, which abused their dignity and demeaned their lives. But do you ever have a right to be angry with them. I am. In fact, I am as angry at them as I am at the accused.
Hollywood represents an industry that makes, creates, and distributes films, which illuminate courageous lives. Their very reason for being is to educate and entertain; give meaning and purpose to individuals willing to buck the status quo and break new ground. Their art brings to life the Rosa Parks, Karen Silkwoods and Harvey Milks we would otherwise never know.
The revelation that these artists and actors, millionaires all, living lives of leisure and privilege, remained silent in the face of wrong, for decades, is repulsive to me. While portraying lives illuminating the courage of others, they were cowards themselves. The specific blame I lay not on the victims whose silence was understandable given the climate and circumstances they lived in and were exposed to. The anger I have is directed towards the conspiracy and complacency their “friends” tolerated and allowed.
This disgusting and vile sexual exploitation of actors was apparently so transparent and well known in Hollywood Seth Mc Farlane openly joked about it at an Oscar ceremony four years and 45 Harvey Weinstein films ago. How did so many of the well heeled participate in a despicable conspiracy of silence? It’s outrageous, offensive, and inexcusable. True friends would have spoken up sooner. True friends would have said this conduct has no place in their homes.
Entertainers should have publicly exposed couch casting and its caretakers for years.
If you ask how could it be that so many knew so much and said so little, the answer is simple – greed. As long as the checks kept coming and the headlines got written, the Hollywood elite looked the other way at abusive behavior and wrongful conduct. They determined it was the price of doing business under Tinseltown rules. As a consequence, victims remained victimized.
Like athletes whose home runs were launched by steroids, a host of performers sold their soul to the devil while playing the roles of angels. The industry they praise needed individuals with more integrity. The next movie they need to make is a movie about their own fears and lack of fortitude, exposing and shaming their own hypocrisy. Today, we can celebrate the new day on the horizon Oprah has heralded in. But too many were too silent for too long. As a consequence, good people suffered.
AIDS activists learned years ago that ‘silence equals death.’ Hollywood could and should have done better. Its only remedy today is to tell the truth they failed to tell yesterday, and shine a light on the wrongs that need to be righted, and should never have been tolerated. Too many victims for too long. Time’s up.