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Time’s Up for Sexual Harassers in Hollywood

Maddie Marks, '19 and Leah Dunbar, '18

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In just the past few months, over 100 celebrities have been ac- cused of sexual assault, harassment, or misconduct. Most people are deeming this the “Weinstein ripple effect” of women feeling empowered by other women’s courage to come forward with stories of abuse by people in power: a convincing theory. With so many of these celebrities, the majority of which are men, being accused of these harassments, numerous TV stations, networks, and online streaming services have removed content starring these celebrities that are now under investigation. While this sends a great message to the public about the seriousness of sexual harassment and the consequences that come along with it, it is crucial to look at the implications of these choices.

Once these TV shows, movies, and series are removed from whichever platform they were being displayed on, this not only sends out a message to the public on the celebrity in question, but it also has implications for all other people involved in that production. Take House of Cards for example, a popular show on Netflix starring Kevin Spacey who was recently accused of sexually assaulting minors. Once these allegations were made, House of Cards was removed from Netflix, in addition to Spacey being dropped by his talent agency and his publicist. With the show now essentially put on the blacklist, not only is Kevin Spacey stripped of any success or income that he would have continued to make from the show, but so are all of the other actors, actresses, and production team members. This case is especially disappointing in that the co-star, Robin Wright, fought tirelessly to be paid an equal amount for the show as Kevin Spacey.

This sequence of events is currently taking place for a plethora of shows and movies being removed or blackballed by production companies in order to reject whichever participant was accused of sexual harassment. In the midst of this, one has to ask what is the right way to go. While these celebrities no doubt deserve to be severely reprimanded for their actions, it is a shame to see the thousands of innocent members that took part in the production of these shows and movies also be stripped of their rewards.

On top of that, pulling the plug on the television show or movie altogether might be a sort of loss for the people who came forward to accuse their harassers. Because the harasser ended the opportunity for so many other participants and prevented the project from reaching the public, they get the last laugh of sorts. If they go down, they’re taking the show or movie with them. It seems continuing the project would be even more of a punishment for them, because they are being ostracized from this powerful and talented group that continues their work regardless of the harasser’s involvement.

In my opinion, in the situation of a TV show being removed from networks due to an accused actor or actress, the best option would be to fire that person and continue filming and producing the show. This allows for the message to be sent that these sexual behaviors are not permitted or able to be overlooked, but it also keeps  the rest of the people involved in the show from suffering from the consequences of someone else’s actions. Although, even with this solution, the remaining participants in the show face the possibility of audience members refusing to watch it in hopes of sending a message of their own.

In addition, because a lot of the accused sexual harassers have leading roles in their television shows and movies, it would be difficult to remove the offender from their role, fill it with another actor or actress or write them out of the story, and reshoot all of the scenes they are involved in without severely altering schedules and planned release dates. Even so, a director or producer who feels strongly about continuing their project while taking a stand against sexual harassment will find a way to do so without upset. Take All the Money in the World, for example. Director Ridley Scott pulled Kevin Spacey when the allegations surfaced and re-shot all of his scenes, replacing him with actor Christopher Plummer. Even though Spacey had a relatively large part, Scott was able to release the movie on December 25th, only three days after the planned release date.

The most important piece of this issue is that victims of abuse by powerful men in Hollywood are being recognized for what they have experienced, and that their abusers realize there are consequences for their actions. Hollywood is a huge platform for projecting ideas to the public, and it is essential that the film and television industry takes it upon themselves to condemn sexual harassment.

The student newspaper of Strath Haven High School. The Panther Press is first and foremost a reflection of the opinions and interests of the student body. For this reason, we do not publish any anonymous or teacher-written submissions, and we do not discriminate against any ideology or political opinion. While we are bound by school policy (and funding), we will not render any article neutral, although individual points may be edited for obscene or inflammatory content. Finally, the articles published in the Panther Press do not necessarily reflect the views of the editors or advisors.
Time’s Up for Sexual Harassers in Hollywood