Should we separate the harasser from their work or does ignoring their actions only helps them get away with it?
With the recent events that have been surfacing in Hollywood regarding sexual harassment, this question becomes relevant. When the news of producer Harvey Weinstein came out and women started talking about the horrors they experienced while working with him, I felt grossed out and, as many, wondered if these despicable attitudes had happened while he was working with Quentin Tarantino. Being such a huge fan and seeing that every day someone in the circle was being accused of the same ill behavior, the odds were really high. I mean, the man produced all his movies, since Reservoir Dogs to The Hateful Eight.
As soon as the allegations began to appear, tons of actresses and women working in the industry started talking and sharing their experiences with sexual harassment, not only related to Weinstein, but in general. At the same time, others started showing their “disapproval” while claiming they weren't aware about it. This, of course, makes me think it was all BS, especially in the case of those with a close relationship with the producer. So, if some of these women were assaulted in, let’s say, more public places, how come these people didn’t know anything? Naturally, to my disappointment, I realized that Tarantino, who has constantly referred to Weinstein as his friend, could not play that card and probably knew about his friend’s behavior towards women.
Actress Amber Tamblyn posted a tweet with a message from the filmmaker asking for time to process the news and being able to give a message on the subject. That was it, there was no way he could come out of this one so easily. And so it happened, he declared, “[he] knew enough to do more than [he] did.” Now, at first, I thought, well at least he’s facing his mistake but then I realized it was the least he could do and what if the accusations had never been exposed? He would have kept it a secret. Just a week after that, in several of the Tarantino-related Facebook pages I follow, news from his upcoming movie started to appear. It was a race to find the best company to produce it now that working with The Weinstein Company wasn’t an option. Now, why do I mention this? After acknowledging that he knew about his friend’s behavior and not doing anything about it, he’s still working as if nothing had happened. Even big companies are fighting and promising to give him anything he wants as long as he works with them in his following movie. Yes, he did nothing (as far as we know), but isn’t complicity terrible as well?
I’m writing this because the news of his acknowledgment was utterly devastating for me and angered me so much. I mean, I love his films and have praised Tarantino for so long, but I don’t approve his silence, especially, seeing the horrible world we’re living where women are being killed just because others think they own them, where walking down the streets makes you a target, and where it’s nearly impossible to find a woman who hasn’t experienced some form of sexual harassment.
Yes, Weinstein might have been removed from his company. See how problematic that sentence is? He hasn’t faced any real consequence for his disgusting acts, and he was just “fired” from his company, but I bet he’s still profiting from it. Moreover, it seems that they took that measure just to have the best outing possible because, according to the declarations from the center he entered to treat his “sex addiction”, he’s not taking his "therapy" too seriously. Where’s the real justice for these women?
Now, we’re talking about Hollywood celebrities, but what about the millions of people who endure this on a daily basis? If there’s no real punishment for this guy, what can we expect for others? Most of what is happening is still a problem of how society understands gender equality. No matter how much it would seem we’ve advanced on the matter, it looks like nothing has really changed. Just take a look at the comments section on publications related to the subject, and you’ll see how our attitudes are equally disgusting. Not so long after all these personalities started being accused, Michael Anello, former head security of Mariah Carey, accused her also of sexual harassment. Although the facts haven’t been confirmed, the comments on the post were unbelievable. People just claimed that he was a homosexual that couldn’t handle a woman like that, that being in his place, many would have jumped to her arms, and you can imagine all the explicit comments on the matter.
But let’s go back to the initial question. As it happened with Tarantino, should we just forgive these people and continue consuming their work as if anything had happened? That’s tough. I mean I’m angry with the man, but to be honest, the news of his new film sparked some enthusiasm in me, and I don’t really know if I’m going to be strong enough to resist watching it, and he’s not as guilty as other people. So, what can we do? It’s not just him. Think of the many characters that have been exposed and the movies they've participated in. If you only focus on Weinstein, most likely there'll be at least five movies you like that he produced. So, should we stop watching them? Are we supposed to separate the person from their work? Is that even possible? Think about the latest exposure: John Lasseter, co-founder of Pixar who worked in our childhood favorites like Toy Story, The Incredibles, Finding Nemo, and my newly found favorite, Coco. He just announced he’s taking a sabbatical to meditate on the accusation made against him, which according to his statement, it’s nothing more than inappropriate hugs (something he’s famous for) without thinking that people are entitled to put their own physical boundaries. So, can we just stop watching Woody and Buzz?
This is probably a question we can’t entirely answer, or perhaps it’s just a polarizing question with no right answer. As for me, I’m still thinking and trying to make a good decision around it, although it’s quite difficult. I mean, I even have a tattoo of my favorite movie. At the same time, I have this strong conviction that there’s something we must do, not only related to the film industry, but as a society. Somehow I have the impression that not taking measures regarding the Hollywood accusations would be another way of normalizing these attitudes and just assume that because they’re far from our reality we can simply ignore them, when we shouldn’t. We really need to start raising awareness and realize that this is an everyday issue that happens everywhere, no matter if you’re a high profile celebrity or a normal person. So, what are you going to do?
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