It has been a couple of months since allegations of sexual improprieties began to rain down on Hollywood, and the entertainment community has been struggling to come to grips with the continuing fallout.
Bombshell accusations that began with Harvey Weinstein have continued to flow and alleged perpetrators of wrongdoing now include Kevin Spacey, Dustin Hoffman, Brett Ratner, Matt Lauer, Louis C.K., Russell Simmons, Charlie Rose, Garrison Keillor, and Tavis Smiley.
Elites from the highest ranks in Hollywood have been under pressure to demonstrate major concern and provide reassurance to the public that something is going to be done to remedy the situation.
Amid all the trepidation and turmoil, the awards season quickly approaches. This is traditionally a high intensity time when the spotlight shines on the entertainment industry to the maximum degree, and the whole world tunes in to prestigious events that include the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards, Critics’ Choice Awards, Grammys, Golden Globes, and, of course, the apex of awards shows, the Oscars.
The mood in the greater Los Angeles community, though, has darkened as a result of the scandals, and the awards shows themselves cannot help but be affected.
Next year’s SAG Awards ceremony, which will dole out thirteen acting awards, will feature female host Kristen Bell and will additionally have all women presenters. The Golden Globes will address the sexual impropriety issues by having all of the actresses involved, including nominees Emma Stone, Jessica Chastain, and Meryl Streep, wear black outfits while on the red carpet as well as during the ceremony itself.
As for the form of seriousness and sorrow that the Oscars will display has yet to be made known. It is highly likely, however, that a similar approach will be taken during the Academy Awards telecast.
The general form-over-substance expressions are, in many instances, rather harmless. This is not the case with regard to a recent appointment to head a new presumably powerful Hollywood group.
If there were any doubts that the entertainment community remains decidedly out of touch with the majority of its customers, the choice of Anita Hill to chair Hollywood’s newly formed Commission on Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality in the Workplace is the latest manifestation of a kind of tone deafness on the part of Tinseltown, especially when it comes to the Hollywood brand.
Hollywood executives have decided to follow the lead of politicians in the nation’s capital, the ones who routinely convene a “blue ribbon commission” to give the perception that problems are being solved. A similar body has been created to deal with the growing list of Hollywood sexual abuse scandals.
Hollywood executives have chosen precisely the wrong individual to head the commission. The announcement that Hill would be taking the top spot came after a meeting was spearheaded by Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy, Nike Foundation Founder and Co-Chair Maria Eitel, entertainment attorney Nina Shaw, and venture capitalist Freada Kapor Klein.
Hollywood’s deep concern over the issue of sexual misconduct is reflected by the power players that attended the event, which included Disney Chairman and CEO Bob Iger, Paramount Chairman and CEO Jim Gianopulos, CBS Corp. Chairman and CEO Leslie Moonves, Warner Bros. Chairman and CEO Kevin Tsujihara, Universal Chairman and CEO Jeff Shell, Sony Chairman and CEO Tony Vinciquerra, Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos, William Morris Endeavor Co-Chairman Ari Emanuel, CAA Co-Chairman Bryan Lourd, and Founding Partner of ICM Chris Silbermann, along with the heads of the motion picture, recording, and television academies, and the actors, writers, directors, and producers guilds.
Hill achieved fame in the early 1990s when she brought forward allegations of sexual harassment during the Senate confirmation process for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
The problem for Hollywood is that Hill failed to tell the truth. Her behavior was inconsistent with someone who had been a victim of sexual harassment. Hill followed Justice Thomas from one job to another, made numerous personal telephone calls to the man she claimed had sexually harassed her, and the calls continued even after she was no longer working for him. She denied having ever made the calls but changed her story after phone records were produced.
Hill initially asked that her name not be mentioned when the accusations were presented to Justice Thomas. The accusations referred to events that were supposed to have occurred when only she and Justice Thomas were in the same room, so if the allegations were true, Justice Thomas would certainly have known who had made them. The anonymity request only made sense if the charges were false.
On several occasions, Hill denied that she had communicated with a Democratic staffer. She later reversed herself when under oath.
A witness that was supposed to be corroborating Hill’s accusations claimed that Hill told her details about the supposed sexual harassment in a telephone call. However, it turned out that the call took place before Hill worked for Justice Thomas.
Polls taken following the hearings, which had been televised daily, showed that twice as many Americans believed Justice Thomas over Hill.
The left continued to attempt to smear Justice Thomas in the intervening years and even went as far as producing an HBO film, which disingenuously attempted to make Hill into a heroine.