Hollywood Has A Culture Problem? Of Course. We've Bought It For Years
In total, 45 actresses and counting have come forward to share their accusations of sexual harassment or assault against former producer Harvey Weinstein. The uproar has been palpable. The wake of the controversy has sucked under other Hollywood powers like George Clooney and Matt Damon. It's ugly and it's only getting uglier.
Kind of ironic considering this is coming out of an industry built on the back of the beautiful image, isn't it? In Hollywood, beauty sells. In Hollywood, sex sells. In Hollywood, everyone wants more beauty and more sexy because more is better at the box office, or so the marketing department tells us.
Weinstein's crimes (proverbially, as he has yet to be charged with an actual crime) are that of a sexual nature and the immoral pursuit of sex and beauty. Yet Weinstein and his ilk have been doing this for years. They've been telling us - it's been right in front of our faces. They make us pay for it.
Hollywood commodifies sexuality, that trades in the objectification of women. They sell us the beautiful image of Jennifer Lawrence to sell a film, to sell makeup, to sell a dress. Hollywood is telling women: you want to be like them. To men, Hollywood is saying: you want them.
The hypocrisy, our hypocrisy, is corrosive. This is an industry that still overwhelmingly asks its female stars to go topless for a role (and sometimes masquerades it as 'for art'). We accept this. This is an industry that will give an R-rating to a film because of the word ‘fuck’ or someone smoking a cigarette or revealing a bared nipple, but guns deaths are prevelent because they sell a good action flick. We accept this.
I worked in the industry briefly. Long enough to know the way people talked. Most the time, it came off as innocuous. Having a gay publicist tell you the lead actress in a film you are repping needed to ‘lose the weight on her arms’ doesn’t seem too much. But the very thought that an actress who was undeniably stunning needed to be more attractive in her triceps was bizarre. Being told Brie Larson is going to be a star because ‘her head is big’. As in, the actual size of her head. Because, according to that logic, it fills the frame of a camera. I would sit in on photo shoots and listen to them talk about where there are imperfections and how to simply wipe them clear in post-production (or how that actress admitted she was eating only carrots in the leadup to the shoot).
It doesn’t take much research to understand this. Count the number of shots objectifying the female body in a lineup of trailers before your next movie. Maybe do it before a Michael Bay film (or, even better, just read what Michael Bay has said) or a Fast and the Furious film (or, even better, watch Vin Diesel at a press junket). Do a bit of reading on the history of how Hollywood has operated behind closed doors (Alfred Hitchcock was a pervert!? No!).
Women are not to be blamed for being beautiful - the power of beauty on screen can be captivating for all the right reasons, such as the tight close-ups of Lawrence that dominate Mother! or how Scarlett Johansson's curves seduce human men in Under The Skin (coincidentally, a film that tackles the objectification of the female form). But when an industry bastardizes what that beauty can do for them, the individual? You get Weinstein.
Are you outraged? Good. Don't sit there and be outraged. The signs of an industry that could mass-produce a sleazeball like Weinstein have been there for decades. It's a shock we never got a story like this sooner (and this story, specifically). We all bought and paid for this. We can't give that money back.
Rhys Dowbiggin @Rdowb
Rhys has worked six years in the public relations industry rubbing shoulders with movie stars (who ignored him) to athletes (who tolerated him). He likes tiki-taka football, jelly beans, and arguing with Bruce about everything.