Awards season has arrived, and with it, the most exciting time of the year for me. It is my Super Bowl. I get heavily invested in all the nominees and constantly debate with friends while trying to guess who and which films will win. While some would argue awards are arbitrary and do not mean anything, the season is a celebration of film, and gosh darn, I love film so much. However, with celebration comes the equal frustration and exhaustive anger over lack of diversity and representation in the industry.
The 75th Golden Globes was last week, the first major awards show since Harvey Weinstein’s sexual abuse allegations, and the many others which followed, came out. Actors are getting fired or replaced and projects are being cancelled. But awards ceremonies have disregarded known abusers and people who have committed assault in the past, as they continued to award them with no consequence for their actions. Due to the fervour that is sweeping Hollywood to act against assault and inequality, eyes are on organisations like the Hollywood Foreign Press (Golden Globes) and The Academy (The Oscars), to see how they respond.
The Golden Globes this year were electrifying, but this is largely due to the large group of female solidarity. The unofficial dress code for the Globes was to wear black, in support of sexual abuse survivors and all the brave men and women who have spoken up about their experience. Seeing the sea of black dresses on the Red Carpet was beautiful to see. During the broadcast, my friends and I sat in complete awe while Oprah made her acceptance speech for the Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award. When Natalie Portman uttered the words “and here are the all-male nominees” we screamed in equal part shock and delight. Saoirse Ronan’s win of Best Leading Actress (Comedy or Musical) for Lady Bird, and the film’s win of Best Feature (Comedy or Musical) had me literally sobbing. Seeing women speak up passionately, and being awarded for female-led work, means honestly so much to me. Especially as I am someone who wants to enter the film industry. This gives me hope.
|Oprah Winfrey accepting the Cecil B. DeMille award.|
While the spotlight has been on Hollywood these past few months, the women of Times Up spent that time meeting, planning, learning and creating an organisation which highlights the universality of sexual assault in the workplace. The organisation raises money for a legal defence fund, to help aid legal resources.
The most vocal of these women is a diverse group of female filmmakers: Octavia Spencer, Jessica Chastain, America Ferrera, Natalie Portman, Rashida Jones, Reese Witherspoon, Tracee Ellis Ross, Shailene Woodley, Kerry Washington, Laura Dern, Eva Longoria, Ava DuVernay, Oprah Winfrey, Viola Davis, Emma Stone, Michelle Williams, and more.
At the Golden Globes, these women brought each other as their dates and used their platforms across social media and in red carpet interviews to raise awareness for Times Up and the issue of sexual assault across all workplaces.
Additionally, nine actresses brought women activists as their dates:
· Tarana Burke, the founder of the #MeToo movement
· Monica Ramirez, who organises against sexual violence in rural areas and for Latina empowerment
· Saru Jayaraman, a workplace justice advocate
· Rosa Clemente, a community organiser with a focus on Puerto Rican independence
· Billie Jean King, whom Emma stone portrayed in her recent film Battle of the Sexes, who founded the Women’s Tennis Association
· Ai-jen Poo, the director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance
· Marai Larasi, executive director of Imkaan, a British organisation which works to end violence against women
· and Calina Lawrence, a Suquamish Tribe member who fights for Native Americans’ water rights.
Seeing these amazing women on the red carpet, along with the sea of black and Times Up lapel pins was breathtaking to witness on screen. As each actress introduced their dates and let these activists talk about their work during interviews (when they weren’t being cut off or minimised on screen—the work of the media on the red-carpet left a lot to be desired) was a bold act of solidarity. In addition, Debra Messing calling out E!’s gender pay gap while on air to E!, and Connie Britton’s shirt embroidered with “poverty is sexist” contributed to the fierce, no-holds-barred attitude of the evening.
|Reese Witherspoon, Eva Longoria, Salma Hayek and Ashley Judd on the red carpet.|
This is not to say the movement was not flawed: actors who were expected to dress up for the black-tie event in the first place were able to just slap on a Times Up pin and be counted towards the movement. By wearing black, wearing a pin, and posting on Instagram with the hashtag #WhyWeWearBlack and #TIMESUPNOW, it was too easy to make it seem like you were a supporter of the movement, by doing the bare minimum. This is especially relevant for actors and actresses who have worked with Woody Allen in the past (or in Justin Timberlake’s case, currently stars in his film Wonder Wheel). Allen, who sexually molested his adopted daughter Dylan Farrow as a child, has yet to be held accountable for his own actions, as his films continue to be made, with some of Hollywood’s biggest stars, and was awarded a Life-Time Achievement Award at the Golden Globes in 2014.
|A Times Up pin worn at the Globes|
As we move forward towards a future of accountability and consequences for those who do wrong, we need to allow those who have worked with Allen in the past to learn and grow, yet also acknowledge the consequences of their actions.
In a statement made to Buzzfeed News, Dylan Farrow applauded the signs of female solidarity, but pointed out these loopholes.
“I fully support women taking a stand, linking arms with other women (and men), advocating on behalf of one another to effect change not only in the entertainment industry but in the world at large. That is an admirable and worthwhile objective, I hope these women change the world. That said, the people who join this movement without taking any kind of personal accountability for the ways in which their own words and decisions have helped to perpetuate the culture they are fighting against, that’s hard for me to reconcile.”
As staff writer for Grown-ish Kara Brown pointed out in inaugural episode of culture critic Ira Madison III’s podcast Keep It, no one’s career has suffered for working with Woody Allen, so it has been confusing as to why no one will just admit they regret working with him. As the question continues to be asked, Why Are We Sparing Allen? people need to prepare a response and be held accountable.
|Greta Gerwig accepts the Golden Globe for Best Feature (Comedy or Musical) for Lady Bird.|
In the press conference after her debut feature film, Lady Bird, which she wrote and directed, won Best Feature (Musical or Comedy) on Sunday, Greta Gerwig was asked to address her previous work with Woody Allen in 2012’s To Rome With Love. At the time, her response left a lot to be desired, claiming she was still thinking about how to respond. It was only a couple of days later in an article written for the New York Times did she make an official statement:
“I can only speak for myself and what I’ve come to is this: If I had known then what I know now, I would not have acted in the film. I have not worked for him again, and I will not work for him again. Dylan Farrow’s two different pieces made me realize that I increased another woman’s pain, and I was heartbroken by that realization. I grew up on his movies, and they have informed me as an artist, and I cannot change that fact now, but I can make different decisions moving forward.”
Gerwig has since received a wave of support in response, calling for others to follow her lead and for the eloquence of the apology. She not only states she regrets working with Allen and will never do it again, but acknowledges the pain her actions had caused. Hopefully, this allows more actors and actresses to follow suit, especially in order for this movement against sexual assault is to continue.
Aside from Seth Myers, who did an excellent job as host, not one male actor mentioned the cause or spoke up for it in any acceptance speech, nor on the red carpet. While the women of Big Little Lies, a show about sexual abuse, used all three of their acceptance speeches to emotionally speak up against assault, and the importance of Times Up, when Alexander Skarsgard accepted his award for portraying a sexual abuser on the show, he made no such connection, nor uttered a word about the brevity of the themes. Essentially, he did not read the room.
While female solidarity is breathtaking, the onus needs to be placed more on men. So far, no men are being held accountable to actually know anything, nor say anything, about their complicit role in the perpetuation of sexual assault, and the effects of their silence. On the red carpet, while the actresses tried their best to talk about Times Up and activism during their interviews, actors were asked about their work, not the pins on their lapels.
As a result, James Franco wins a Golden Globe (for his portrayal of Tommy Wisseau in The Disaster Artist), while wearing a Times Up pin, but the only woman he mentions is his mother (for giving birth to his brother). Meanwhile, he is simultaneously called out for sexual misconduct he has perpetuated against young women and teenage girls, on Twitter. In the days following the award show, as these allegations resurface, Franco’s Time Talks event has been cancelled, and he was grilled by both Stephen Colbert and Seth Meyers while he was a guest on their talk shows. While I appreciate the men holding him accountable, this needs to happen more often, especially in a space such as a live interview, where they are forced to answer for their actions. However, Colbert was vague about what this “misconduct” was and thus it made it too easy for Franco to deny the allegations.
With the next major awards ceremony, the Screen Actors Guild awards next week, it will be interesting to see if this fervor sticks, and as Awards Season and the year progresses, if the Times Up movement will fizzle away.
Cause a Cine do not own any of the images used in this post.