Next Sunday’s Oscars marks two awards cycles since the Time’s Up and #MeToo movements, yet so much change in Hollywood seems not just cosmetic but self-serving. Take Elisabeth Moss, who last year won a Golden Globe for her work in the feminist dystopian drama “The Handmaid’s Tale.”
Moss used her acceptance speech to thank the women “who were brave enough to speak out against intolerance and injustice.”
Her latest role? Starring in accused sexual harasser Casey Affleck’s upcoming movie “Light of My Life,” which he wrote and directed and which takes place in a world without women. For those who would say Affleck is no misogynist, was never charged with a crime and never admitted wrongdoing, consider this:
He settled a lawsuit filed by two women who alleged sexual harassment. Enough was known of his behavior in the industry that Brie Larson refused to applaud when presenting him with the Best Actor Oscar in 2017. Affleck, against tradition, did not present the 2018 award for Best Actress.
The Oscars — along with the Globes, the Grammys and the Tonys — have always doubled as celebrity bully pulpits, glamorous nights in which the 1 percent hold themselves forth as truth-tellers, fighters for justice, equality and the plights of the little people. They rail against the lies and hypocrisies of the right.
Yet it seems there is still little holding to account in Hollywood itself. Just two weeks ago, actress Juliette Binoche called Harvey Weinstein, the movement’s undisputed monster, “a great producer.” She went on to say that perhaps #MeToo has gone too far.
“I’m trying to put my feet in his shoes,” she said. “He’s had enough, I think.”
Tell that to his nearly 90 accusers, one of whom says she was 16 and a virgin at the time of her assault, and is identified in the current class action against him as Jane Doe. Or to actress Mira Sorvino, whose career Weinstein ruined after she refused to trade sex for roles. She thinks she escaped worse.
“He’s raped many people I love,” Sorvino said on “Today” last June. “I think maybe there will be some celebration when he gets convicted and goes to jail.”
One would hope. But it seems few here have the courage of their convictions. How hard should it be, really, to call out the worst of the worst, those so credibly accused of sexually abusing children? Rami Malek, campaigning hard for an Oscar for his role in “Bohemian Rhapsody,” recently conceded only that working with director Bryan Singer “was not pleasant.”
Malek’s tepid statement followed a recent, blistering exposé in The Atlantic, detailing longstanding allegations of child sexual abuse and rape. One famous actor, who refused to be named, told The Atlantic that after Weinstein, “everyone thought Bryan Singer would be next.”
In January, Alan Alda told The Hollywood Reporter that, regarding Woody Allen, “I just don’t have enough information to convince me I shouldn’t work with him.” Sarah Silverman and Janeane Garofalo have defended Louis CK, a man whose sexual mistreatment of female comics chased some of them out of the industry.
“I don’t believe in kicking a person when they’re down,” Garofalo said in January.
How is it that these predatory men have become the victims, defended by women?
Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised. The problem is so clearly ongoing. After all, Les Moonves, ousted at CBS after multiple accusations of sexual harassment, has set up three new companies under the defiant-at-best, inappropriate-at-worst name “Moon Rise.”
Former Pixar and Disney exec John Lasseter, forced out last year amid multiple allegations of sexual harassment, was just given a plum position at Skydance Media — by Oracle scion David Ellison, no less.
Meanwhile, the one stance the Oscars were willing to take this year, with great sanctimony, was rejecting Kevin Hart, a host who apologized for regrettable, years-ago tweets. Moral courage at its finest.