By David Gernon and Lauren Velasco

Originally published February 22, 2018
Photo by FICOD via Wikimedia Commons

When watching this year’s Golden Globes, Grammy Awards and other shows honoring the past year’s best in entertainment, it was hard to miss the rows of matching dress. Behind the black attire and parade of white roses, stretched the industry stood unified after the myriad allegations and confessions that have erupted in recent months.

While award shows honor the year’s best talent in TV, movies, and music, this year’s winners have repurposed the platform to address and expose Hollywood’s toxic environment of sexual abuse[1]. The #MeToo movement, a viral social media campaign, has brought to light the severity and breadth of harassment and assault, and knocked down major names[2]. The list of alleged offenders includes industry titans from Harvey Weinstein, the Miramax co-founder, to Kevin Spacey, the protagonist of Netflix’s House of Cards.

This year’s Golden Globes drew even more attention to the issue of sexual harassment, notably through actors and actresses wearing all black during the show, meant to evoke images of mourning[3]. Days after the awards, some of the winners were themselves cause for controversy. Actors Aziz Ansari and James Franco made headlines as men accused of unseemly behavior, but were seen on the red carpet wearing Times Up pins, drawing angry backlash from activists.

The Time’s Up Movement, led by some of Hollywood’s most prominent women, is concurrently working to address systematic inequality and injustices in the entertainment industry. The movement’s leaders have leveraged their popularity and media presence to draw attention to the pervasive culture sexual harassment in all types of workplaces. Time’s Up has also raised millions of dollars for its defense fund. The movement brings together people of all backgrounds and it appears that momentum is far from slowing down. Issues of gender inequality and injustice still stain every part of the industry. Systematically, there is much that has to change; this upwelling has been just the start.

Politics, like other industries, has not been immune to the wave of allegations levelled against powerful men. In an election cycle partially characterized by an unusually high number of congressional retirements, numerous lawmakers are stepping down after troubling accusations over their conduct surfaced[4]. The list includes one senator so far, former comedian Al Franken, and several House members. On the left, those members include John Conyers, the longest-serving House Democrat who stepped down in December, and Nevada’s Ruben Kihuen, who announced in December he will not seek re-election[5]. On the right, those who have announced they will not run in 2018 include Joe Barton, Tim Murphy and Blake Farenthold. Perhaps the most unnerving resignation belongs to Trent Franks, who stepped down after acknowledging he had asked two members of his staff to carry his and his wife’s surrogate child[6]. These resignations have made more chaotic an already unstable midterm season for both parties. In statehouses across the country as well, dozens of lawmakers have stepped down after allegations came to light. One potential consequence of the national environment is the record number of women running for office in 2018[^7].

Of course, one notable name has remained above the fray thus far: Donald Trump. Despite, or perhaps because he is the president, Mr Trump has thus far remained beyond reproach in the mainstream media. This led his administration to walk a narrow line when calling, for instance, for the resignation of political rivals like Mr Franken, while discrediting Mr Trump’s own accusers as baseless liars. One tactic fellow Republicans employed is claiming voters knew of the allegations against Mr Trump before the election and elected him anyway. It is true that numerous accusers came forward before the election and that Mr Trump did win the presidency. However, it is also true that discourse around the issue has shifted dramatically since the bombshell reports against Mr Weinstein surfaced last October. Republicans may rue not taking a stronger stance.

  1. Strause, J. (2018). How the Grammys stood with #MeToo, Time's Up movements. The Hollywood Reporter. ↩︎

  2. Corey, D. (2017). Since Weinstein, here's a growing list of men accused of sexual misconduct. NBCNews. ↩︎

  3. Safronova, V. (2018). Time's Up pins are the political accessory at the Golden Globes. The New York Times. ↩︎

  4. Berman, R. (2018). The 2018 congressional retirement tracker. The Atlantic. ↩︎

  5. Booker, B. (2017). Democrat Ruben Kihuen won't seek re-election following sexual harrassment allegations. ↩︎

  6. The Republic. (2017). Full text of Arizona rep. Trent Franks' resignation letter. ↩︎