Tuesday, May 1, 2018
Final Project: Hollywood Lies
Everyone lies at some point in his/her life. Some of us lie more than others. Some of us (like me!) are not good at lying. However, people in some professions seem to lie more than others. Lawyers often lie, or counsel their clients to lie (with the boundaries of the law). Celebrities and their agents often lie as well. Here are the reasons celebrities lie: 1) to deny that they did something terrible; 2) to make themselves look better; or 3) to put a good spin on something. Others in TV and movies lie as well because they're trying to manage a bad situation, or because their lawyers told them to lie. Some of the lying is fairly harmless and may even be considered just "publicity." For instance, if a TV proclaims that their show is "The hottest new show this season," it doesn't really matter, even if that show is canceled 3 weeks later. It's just harmless hyperbole.
Actors get a reputation for lying, in part, because it's their job to lie. Acting is pretending, or lying, to a certain extent. Then they have to go on talk shows and convince people to see their movie, play or TV show, or buy their book. Sometimes they are required by contract to only be happy, smile and say nice things about their project.. Then they also have publicity people to help them with that. They're similar to salespeople in this regard. It doesn't matter if they actually believe what they're saying - whether they think their product is good or not. It only matters if you buy it. Remember that next time you see your favorite actor selling Mountain Dew, or reverse mortgages, or hawking their jewelry on QVC. They're being paid to do this; they may be lying. Their agents and managers lie, too, to get them parts, and raises, and percentages. They call it "playing the game."
Some lies do matter more than others, which is what we're seeing lately with the stories about sexual predators. These stories are happening in all walks of life, but we hear more about the ones happening in TV and movies. For decades, people in Hollywood covered up all of the rapes and sexual harassment that women faced constantly, even though we'd all heard about the "casting couch" for years. The cover-up is not working so much now. Video
I can say confidently that almost every woman in the world has faced some sort of sexual harassment (usually physical), abuse or assault. This is not something I need to even check because I know it, from talking to all of my friends over the years, and reading news stories, blogs, etc. It's just something that comes from being a woman, especially if you were around before this century. I hope that younger men are being taught not to be predators and that young women are being taught to speak up more, but I don't know if that's the case or not. This behavior is just something that we all know, just like we know that there aren't too many African Americans that haven't been bullied, harassed or assaulted by authority figures (usually multiple times). And yes, I'm deliberately being vague here.I will add, also vaguely, that I have had some of these things happen to me. I don't want to reveal too much private information here in my class blog, so I'll leave it at that. 😉 Video
Back to Hollywood. There have been "Hollywood sex scandals" dating way back to the 1920's. Usually these stories get out to the tabloids; sometimes they don't reach mainstream news, unless a case goes to trial. It's not just the people who work in TV and movies that ignore them or cover them up, but sometimes also the press or the police.
More of these incidents have been in the news recently because of several high profile cases. Partly it's because celebrity women are finally coming forth; partly it's because people are believing them more; and partly it's because of social media and traditional media. It's really a combination of all of these things.
good argument, especially when it's about something I believe in. However, I never argue without first looking up the facts. You just look stupid if you have an argument online without backing it up (it's surprising how many people do that, when it's so easy to look things up on Google or Wikipedia). I've had many arguments online with people on Twitter and Facebook about rape and assault, so I've done quite a bit of research about it. Here are some rape facts. Video
The people on the other side who argue with me try to claim that a lot of women make up rape charges, which just isn't true. Most don't. The FBI maintains violent crime statistics and says that only about 2% of rapes are made up. Of course, this only accounts for the rapes reported. We know that only about a third of rapes are reported. The reason for both is the same: rape victims risk a lot. Many people don't believe them or blame them, or try to shame them. The police and lawyers often are not very sympathetic and grill them about what happened (although this is changing as police departments have more officers specially trained to handle rape victims more sensitively). They have to relive what they went through, over and over. They may face threats from either their rapist or other people in their community (particularly if their rapist is someone they know). They may risk their job, their family and their reputation. Also, it's hard to prove rape in court, even if there's physical evidence. Lastly, with the backlog of cases, along with the attitudes that many police have about rape, many of the rape kits go untested, which means there is no case and no arrest. When you look at all that, it makes sense why many women don't report the assault, and why very few would make it up. If the perpetrator is a celebrity, then you have additional press coverage of the accusation, which can make it even more difficult to press charges. Video
First, let's look at the Cosby rape accusations. 60 women accused him of rape. While some people are still defending him, most realize it's pretty unlikely that 60 women are lying about this. Some of them date back to the 1960's, when he starred in "I Spy." Why didn't more of the women report that he drugged and raped them? There were many reasons. Some of them did report it to their bosses or colleagues, but they were told not to pursue it. Cosby also lied to the women and said they just had too much to drink, so some of them believed that, or they were unsure. You can be sure that most were worried that it would affect their careers. This may seem like a selfish attitude, but people are allowed to be selfish, particularly when it comes to their livelihoods. Cosby was rich, powerful and popular. He could really ruin these women's careers. Reputation meant a lot back then, too. Another reason some didn't report it was shame. Women were taught back then that if something happened to them it was because they were not being careful, or they were not acting like ladies. Cosby threatened some of the women and made promises to help others' careers. He did whatever worked, I guess. Video
Andrea Constand, who was the main accuser in the recent case, was one that did that. Since the police wouldn't arrest him, she sued him in civil court and won $150 million. It wasn't until comedian Hannibal Buress started talking about Cosby raping women in 2014 that others in the media (especially social media) started paying attention. Many knew about Cosby's behavior for decades, but it wasn't until he started giving lectures on college campuses this century about how young black men should be acting that people in the African American community started taking umbrage at his seemingly hypocritical behavior. Someone in Buress' audience took a video of his act, and that went viral. This led to the police re-opening the case in 2015. Cosby was finally convicted on 3 counts of sexual assault, Thursday, April 26. I'm sure the victims feel vindicated, but I'm sure they also feel like justice is coming a bit late, since it took 50 or more rapes, plus over 50 years, for him to be convicted. He's in his 70's, blind, and uses a cane; his career has already been destroyed. He'll probably die in prison. Justice would have been more powerful if it had happened many years ago. Video
I'm sure I'm not the only one who grew up in the 60's and 70's that was horrified to hear that Bill Cosby is a monster. I was a big fan of his. My family listened to his comedy record albums and watched "I Spy." I went to see his movie "Uptown Saturday Night" many times when it played in our local theater one summer, and I saw all of the other movies he starred in after that. I watched all of his sitcoms (He played a high school basketball coach in the early 70's on "The Bill Cosby Show"), his "Fat Albert" cartoon, and later, his hugely successful "The Cosby Show" sitcom that aired from 84-92. I even watched the sitcom he had after that, which wasn't all that funny. I followed him on Twitter, too. It's very sad when our favorite celebrities let us down. What a shame that he wasted all of that talent, wealth and fame and chose to be evil. So many people looked up to him. His co-starring role on "I Spy" was ground-breaking for black America, and "The Cosby Show" revived the sitcom. Video
Harvey Weinstein was a powerful Hollywood producer, who co-founded the independent film company Miramax with his brother. He also produced many plays and has won many awards, including Oscars and Tonys. Over 80 women have accused him of sexual assault in the past 6 months. He had many people in Hollywood who helped him cover up his misdeeds. Actress Ashley Judd was the first to accuse him last year, and many others came forward after her brave interview with the New York Times. What made her come forward? Why is she believed, when so many others haven't been? I don't know, but clearly it was the right time, and she inspired many others to come forward. Weinstein will probably be the next one to go on trial. Inspired by Judd, actress Alyssa Milano posted "#MeToo" on Twitter (she may have gotten the idea from an African American activist, a women who had previously used "Me Too" to promote awareness of sexual assault, back in 2006) and suggested other women post it as well, to promote awareness of sexual harassment and assault. This became an international movement; it morphed into "#TimesUp" after that. Video
There have been many other accusations against famous men, and most of them are plausible. There were only a few instances, where just one person made an accusation, and their story didn't seem accurate. One man accused George Takei, and he sounded like some crazy guy. Takei has vehemently denied it, and no one else has ever accused him. A woman accused Anziz Ansari of inappropriate behavior, but from her own story, she didn't say no and voluntarily took her own clothes off, and she could have left but didn't. She sounds a bit off and like she somehow expect Ansari to read her mind. This is my opinion. Please do read the stories and make up your own mind.
Some people feel that Senator Al Franken was punished too harshly because the first woman who accused him, Leeann Tweeden, was a right-wing radio commentator, and her story didn't sound right. However, eight other women also came forward with different stories. My guess is, if more than one or two people come forward, than it probably is a real pattern. It's a shame that his previous handsy behavior tainted the good work that he did in the senate.
Perhaps Franken shouldn't have gone into politics, or perhaps he thought it would be ignored. Until fairly recently, politicians were able to get away with sexual misconduct because the press helped to cover up. One famous example is President John F. Kennedy. We know now that he had numerous affairs while he was in the White House and also sexually harassed at least one young woman, an intern. Back then, no one spoke about it, and it was not in the news. You don't have to be a fan of "Mad Men" to know that women were treated very differently back then. Many other presidents and representatives commited rape and sexual harassment, but it wasn't until Bill Clinton that a president was publicly accused of it. He probably thought that he would get away with it, too. At some point, the press decided to stop giving politicians a free pass. Watergate may have been the reason behind that.
Anyway, actors Kevin Spacey, Danny Masterson, James Franco, Dustin Hoffman, Jeremy Piven, and Jeffrey Tambor; comedian Louis CK; media/news men Charlie Rose, Tom Brokaw, Matt Lauer, Roger Ailes, and Bill O'Reilly; politicians President Donald Trump, Rep. John Conyers, Jr., former Judge Roy Moore; and many others have all been accused in the past year of rape and sexual harassment. However, most of the allegations will probably never lead to arrest, let alone trial or conviction.
It's pretty clear that women are now speaking up more, thanks to all of these actresses and others coming forward with their stories. The police are being forced to look into cases. The news media is unearthing any possible stories. Social media is constantly reminding us of the alleged crimes of these men. I hope that the progress continues, and this type of behavior is no longer accepted anywhere. I think that these eye-opening events of the 21st century are a very good step forward for women's rights.