Today I am angry.
Today I heard some things that made me shiver.
I had been away from work for a few days where I had caught up on some great new releases, enjoyed a couple of London Film Festival screenings and was fully immersed in the unfolding horror story of the Harvey Weinstein scandal.
Stories of strong women speaking out and weak white men making at best, feeble platitudes and at worst inexcusable excuses.
When the New York Times story first surfaced I wasn’t surprised, anyone interested in cinema has always known HW to be a horrendous bullying creep. And anyone who knows anything about sexual politics, knows that women have for what seems like an eternity, been treated like shit, by big men, in big jobs. Power. Sex. Scandal. It was disgusting, upsetting and vile but not particularly shocking.
But then Donna Karen made her frankly, appalling comments.
Oliver Stone, was Oliver Stone. i.e An Arsehole.
Ben Affleck, got swept up in his own embaressing scandal(s).
And Matt bloody Damon said:
“As the father of four daughters, this is the kind of sexual predation that keeps me up at night.”
I am sick and tired of the father/daughter tripe.
Things I always cringe at when I hear them (Thankfully NEVER from my own father):
“I worry about my little girls growing up too fast, I know what I was like when I was that age”
“No daughter of mine can go out dressed like that”
“It’s easier having sons, you don’t need to worry about what they might get up to”
The “As a father” line is pretty much code for “As a Father, I have changed the way I see women, so instead of them being sexual objects in my eyes, they are now creatures to be protected from the rapey kind of lad that I once was.”
And then, and then… there’s Mr Woody Allen. Making it worse for himself.
What to do about Woody?
I have shamefully, guiltily defended Allen for years. YEARS. “He wasn’t convicted”, “It was HER adopted daughter, not his” “It’s not illegal, it’s just a bit creepy” – The blurry lines surrounding Allen’s scandals are messy and well known, so I won’t go into them again but I have, despite knowing that he’s probably, almost definitely done something wrong along the way, defended him, because I just didn’t want one of my favourite directors to be on the bad side. His films were too important to me.
It’s easy to hate Trump and Weinstein, they’re famous bullies. But Woody, his neurotic, intelligent, jazzy, New Yorky, hilarious, sharpness was something I fell in love with a very long time ago. Not to mention the fact that he directed AT LEAST ONE of the greatest, most beautiful films of all time. Which happens to also be one of his most awkwardly uncomfortable ones, in context.
So where is the line? I have seen more of Woody Allen’s output than any other director. Will Manhattan, Annie Hall, Sleeper, Crimes and Misdemeanours, Love and Death etc have to be sent to the charity shop? Must I stop quoting him? Is it easier because he’s not really done anything great for ages?
Recently I have laughed, cried and applauded Argo, The Martian and Manchester By The Sea. JFK is one of my favourite films. And what about Rosemary’s Baby and Chinatown? There’s absolutely no defending Polanski, but what about the films? This is an old question, but I still don’t know the answer, when do we boycott? When do we say no to the FILMS? How long can you separate the art from the artist?
I’m a proud feminist and a lifelong cineaste so what do we do?
Back to today…
This morning, I overheard a woman, a white privileged, educated women say a number of outrageous things, including, but not limited to the following:
“If he’d looked like Paul Newman, would they have minded?”
“Feminism has gone too far.”
“If they go into his bedroom, it can’t be called rape.”
“Women have always slept their way to the top. Now they call it sexual harassment.”
I argued. But not enough. It’s never enough.
The women on my timeline are bravely sharing their own stories of sexual abuse and harassment. I don’t think I’d ever be brave enough to write it all down. My stories probably aren’t as significant, and it’s embarrassing anyway… and my Dad is on Facebook. But it’s powerful and disturbing to see it all there in one place. So many stories. Women I have known for years, women I have known for weeks, women I have never met, strangers and friends.
Of course we keep talking, and fighting and arguing and laughing and joking and hugging. The talking is important though. If we can. It does feel like something could change this time. Harvey Weinstein has been booted off the Academy Awards board. Next up, Polanski and Gibson perchance?
Maybe, what we’ve finally got on our hands here, is a dead shark…