The devil wears puce . . . and other reasons why we think Hollywood is beyond fake. Andrew E. Hall takes on the #MeToo brigade.
A club, epitomised by inflated egoism and profligate wealth, had newly (and with some prompting) ousted one of its founding members.
He had already been outed – though not by members of the club.
Vituperative speeches followed one after the other as the glitterati massaged the message and made it their own – exulting in vainglory and obsequious vanity. In a biome of gauche grandeur and gaudy glitz the black-clad shills for a multi-billion dollar industry clapped themselves and each other on the back . . . with apposite solemnity (and permission, of course).
Sincerity oozed like primordial slime through a creepy crypt of celluloid attention-seekers and faux freedom fighters. “Influencers” one and all, in the most contemporaneous meaning of the term, which in terms of contemporaneous meaning, is meaningless.
Their eyes reflected mutual adulation and self-congratulation. And, in unguarded moments, laser-like hatred aimed at those responsible for real or imagined slight – a lover stolen; unkind words uttered in unflattering contempt on a late-night talk show.
Not everyone was invited on the night, naturally, for this is an exquisitely exclusive club; its members unwilling to embrace those who kicked off the campaign that they had carefully appropriated as a meticulously tailored sartorial satire.
The onanist climax came when a club doyenne procured the pulpit to proclaim an end-game for the venal propensities of men in positions of power – one in particular, his coterie of enablers and a host of enabled, unnamed others.
So potent was her performance that her disciples rapidly and unanimously nominated her as a candidate in the next United States presidential election race.
Never ones to put substance ahead of form, media workers in all their manifestations drooled like rabid dogs over the idea that yet another pop culture icon might possess the necessary chops to discern responsible policy platforms upon which to continue building an already vast and powerful nation. Collective dementia is astonishing to behold and breathtaking in scope. And selective amnesia mildly amusing (in a dark way) when one considers that said doyenne had, in the recent past, acted as one of Harvey Weinstein’s principal enablers.
And I’ll bet my bottom dollar that some in the room that night – who upbraided the predatory behaviours of powerful men – voted for the (and I quote) “fucking idiot”, “moron”, “man-child”, “dotard”, “racist”, “sexist”, “misogynist pussy-grabbing” pop culture icon who currently infects the White House. In bated-breath anticipation that he and his cronies would organise a much-needed tax break for them.
Regardless of how convinced we are of our own moral vehemence and virtue, our ethical self-talk (to the extent that it exists) all too often vanishes like an alien whisper when it comes to personal aggrandisement and pecuniary advancement.
Stop the presses: Oprah has gone on the record, saying in a magazine interview that running for president of the United States of America “is not in her DNA”.
Et donc: While the winners paraded their Globes in front of those who did not win, the struggle for a person’s (every person) inalienable right to be treated with regard, to emerge unharmed – physically or psychologically – from a job interview, a luncheon appointment, a day at the office or an hour at the gym, began to slide on the slippery slope of consensual ambivalence, attention deficit disorder and, as is the norm, an awareness blip that quickly flat-lines when the media move on to the next titillating trope in the news cycle.
Self-righteous, self-serving expressions of angst and anguish amongst a phantasm of platinum frequent fliers, obscures and obfuscates the preternaturally brave and patient persistence of real-life women’s and girls’ rights protagonists such as Malala Yousafzai, as much as any fuckwit with a gun who is hung up on his own existential certainty.
A certainty clearly shared by a club of delinquent thespians.
Malala Yousafzai was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for being her resolute self in the face of life-threatening odds that would make the most hardened combat veteran wince. She did not accept a tacky trinket for pretending to be someone else.
Pretending that pretty much everyone who is anyone in Hollywood didn’t know Harvey Weinstein had been deeply twisted for decades is tantamount to insisting that Agent Orange told the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth when he put his hand on a holy book, and swore to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic” upon the occasion of his inauguration.
I’m sure that everyone who wanted to make a movie with Woody Allen thought nothing at all out of the ordinary was happening when he married the adopted daughter of his former partner Mia Farrow.
Actor and activist Rose McGowan – who was one of the first women to speak about her abuse at the hands of Weinstein – took aim at the all-black movement at the awards ceremony, saying she has no time for “Hollywood fakery”.
The Charmed star has accused the Hollywood producer of rape and said she was “black-listed” by the peers’ club for speaking out about the claims. Not surprisingly she was absent at the soiree vêtements noirs in January, and pointed out that many of those on the tapis rouge had not raised objections to the treatment of women in the industry in the past.
“Not one of those fancy people wearing black to honour our (she was not alone in alleging Weinstein’s criminal behaviour – her fellow accusers weren’t invited to the party either) rapes would have lifted a finger … I have no time for Hollywood fakery,” she said.
In December 2017 McGowan called out (another club doyenne whose name doesn’t really matter here) for her decision to fight sexual harassment after she once thanked Harvey Weinstein as a “god” in a 2012 Golden Globes acceptance speech.
“Actors, like Meryl Streep, who happily worked for The Pig Monster, are wearing black at the Golden Globes in a silent protest,” she wrote on Twitter.
“YOUR SILENCE is THE problem. You’ll accept a fake award breathlessly and affect no real change. I despise your hypocrisy.”
This edition of The Yak came off the presses around the same time that the 2018 Academy Awards were staged on 4 March, so I can only imagine – a month or so in advance – the volume settings on an inevitable replay of sick-making sanctimony that will gush from parsimonious poseurs at the industry’s gala awards event. No matter what the thème du jour happens to be this time around.
If I might make a suggestion, though: all delinquent thespians should wear puce to the remaining awards love-ins this year . . . as a nod to their penchant for the pusillanimous.
The first amendment to the US Constitution and similar free speech protections in other parts of the world avail all of us – who are blessed to live in places in which the separation of powers is enshrined as law – the opportunity to speak out. And it is vitally important to speak up when a person, or persons use his, her, their position/s of power to threaten the less powerful in any way shape or form (that breaches civil and industrial legal codes).
However, as one of the most significant women’s rights activists of the second half of the 20th century, Dr Germaine Greer, said recently: abusive behaviour must be reported at the time it occurs, not retrospectively after 10, 20 or more years.
I think this also might be one of the points that Rose McGowan was trying to drive home with the Hollywood sisterhood.
Maintenant il est temps pour ce bit: When I first decided that I would write about this, my immediate subsequent thought came in the form of “bro, you are so setting yourself up for a good kicking”. However, “without fear or favour” (in whatever form it is actually written) is a tenet that exists in all Western democratic journalists’ codes of conduct. It exists right next to “fair and accurate” . . . albeit that both (and much of the rest of our Codes of Ethics) have suffered their own forms of abuse at the hands of those who would play fast and loose with the truth.
Abuse in all its ugly manifestations is not an issue that pertains to, or should be “owned” by any one group in society. It speaks to the moral and ethical, and legal structures that underpin society itself. It is not a Manichean conversation. While a gender-specific polemic is certainly appropriate at times, Western-style democratic legal frameworks, in the main, operate on the assumption that guilt should not be inferred simply because it has been alleged. Herein lies the potential Achilles heel of the #MeToo campaign – as it runs a serious risk of distracting attention from women like Rose McGowan, who in all likelihood have been on the receiving end of criminal intent. And placing the focus firmly on a cohort committed only to Search Engine Optimisation.
In the interest of adhering to the structural criteria of feature writing, I will end up where I began: in the midst of a phantasmagorical awards ceremony.
My nomination goes to Aung San Suu Kyi for Best Supporting Actor in the serial murder of the Rohingyan people of Myanmar’s Rakhine State.