It’s been said that when you point the finger there are three pointing back at you. So as we point the finger at Harvey Weinstein (rightfully so) in absolute condemnation of his and others’ behavior we have to ask: What are the three fingers pointing back at us?
It’s an important question for us to consider because a culture will not change if we only cut off the top of the plant. You have to go for the roots too, which provide sustenance, which in this case is us.
This is the challenge: There is a link between the actions of the culture and the fruit it produces. And much of what we watch, in order to be produced treats people on camera the way Weinstein treated them off camera; not as people but as props.
This means, as well as pointing the finger at perpetrators of sexual violence we have to question the appropriateness of watching shows that contain graphic sex and nudity.
There are, of course, other fingers pointing at other issues that must be addressed, but this is one I personally feel challenged by and also it is within our immediate power to make a difference.
Now people may say that this is an issue of consent: the actors consent to be in the show and perform in this way whereas Weinstein’s victims did not.
But this is where I believe there is a greater similarity than we might at first notice, because I don’t think we can really call it consent when you have an entire entertainment culture built on unaccountable gatekeepers and the choice is: consent or have your career die. “Consent or this is going to be the last time this casting director sees you.”
This is a culture where an actor has to audition for a part they find degrading because this is the way to get up the career ladder of success.
Some actors will say: “I wanted to do this!” but what about those who didn’t?
And it’s not just the actor you see who is impacted by this. There is also the long line of actors in the shadows who auditioned for that part but weren’t “rewarded” with the chance to be paraded on screen for our entertainment.
A friend of mine auditioned for a major TV show that nearly all of us will have watched and her audition was: Strip and then declare on camera that you consent to full-frontal nudity if you get the part.
She did consent.
She didn’t get the part.
This is the kind of abuse that people are subjected in order to make our entertainment.
And the danger is that we only voice anger on Twitter at others but don’t ask the hard question of what must this cost me to ensure this culture doesn’t continue.
It is vital that we decide what we will and will not watch because TV and film have an extremely loud voice in shaping how we view and value people, but fortunately we also have a voice and if we won’t watch it, studios won’t make it.