Imagine it’s late 2011. The world just found out about Jerry Sandusky, former assistant Penn State football coach who would be convicted of repeatedly raping children in 2012. Penn State higher-ups, in an attempt to turn the focus of the scandal away from the school, decide to turn an annual banquet into a celebration of those fighting child rape. They call up head coach Joe Paterno. They call up President Graham Spanier. They call up athletic director Tim Curley. All of them give long, brave speeches about the evils of sexual exploitation of children resulting in rousing applause from all the Penn State boosters. All the attendees wear pins showing their solidarity with molestation victims. The event is nationally televised.
You’d be disgusted, wouldn’t you? You’d think to yourself, “Perhaps it isn’t a good idea for a school that just became nationally renowned for one of the worst sex scandals in modern American history to preach about its commitment to the kiddies.”
Now fast-forward to 2018. It’s been only a few months since we found out that Hollywood megaproducer Harvey Weinstein allegedly raped multiple women, sexually abused other women and sexually harassed still more women. Each day, more and more prominent men are caught up in the net of #MeToo, the national movement to listen to the stories of abused women: Matt Lauer, Kevin Spacey, Charlie Rose, Russell Simmons, Jeffrey Tambor, Andrew Kreisberg, Louis C.K., Ed Westwick, Brett Ratner, Dustin Hoffman, Jeremy Piven, Danny Masterson and James Toback.
Yet on Sunday, Hollywood held itself a festival of virtue-signaling at the Golden Globes. All the women dressed in black in homage to the victims of a sexual harassment epidemic that has plagued Hollywood since the inception of the casting couch. The men wore “Time’s Up” buttons to show solidarity. Oprah Winfrey, who was once quite close with Weinstein, gave an emotional speech in which she likened modern-day victims of sexual abuse to a black woman raped by six white men in 1944 Alabama. The cameras cut away to Meryl Streep, who once praised Weinstein as a “god” and gave a standing ovation to accused child rapist Roman Polanski. The entire crowd cheered its goodwill approximately six years after the Hollywood Foreign Press Association gave a lifetime achievement award to Woody Allen, who was credibly accused of molesting his own stepdaughter when she was 7 years old.
All of this was supposed to make us feel that Hollywood is somehow leading the charge against sexual aggression. But that’s simply not true. Hollywood isn’t doing anything to materially change its culture; it’s simply operating out of fear of public scrutiny. When the spotlight moves on, people in Hollywood will go right back to doing what they’ve been doing for years: exploiting people less powerful than them. Winfrey had nothing to say about sexual misconduct in Hollywood for 30 years, even though she was the Queen of All Media; treating her as some sort of beacon of light now is simply ridiculous.
America knows posturing when it sees it. And what we’re seeing now isn’t bravery.