Is time still up in Hollywood or nah?
In a recent interview with ABC News, this year’s Oscars host Jimmy Kimmel said he won’t be bringing up the Time’s Up initiative or the #MeToo movement during the ceremony. In his words “Here’s the thing: This show is not about reliving people’s sexual assaults. It’s an awards show for people who have been dreaming about maybe winning an Oscar for their whole lives. And the last thing I want to do is ruin that for someone who is, you know, nominated for, you know, best leading actress or best supporting or best director or cinematographer, or whatever, by making it unpleasant. I’m not going to stop any bad behavior with my jokes.”
He’s obviously referring to the victims of sexual harassment and assault, not the perpetrators, but the reason is somewhat suspicious. For one, the idea that Kimmel’s jokes won’t make a difference seem to be contrary to a late-night host’s occupation. If he truly believed that then why would he continue making jokes about Trump or health care on his program? Wouldn’t those jokes in turn be futile?
Granted, he doesn’t want to make people “relive” their assaults, but it’s been mostly the victims of abuse who’ve been at the forefront of the movement anyway, and they seem perfectly fine with turning big cultural moments into an opportunity to talk about causes. It’s certainly not men who are doing this. Seth Meyers proved at the Globes that there are plenty of ways to incorporate jokes into a ceremony rife with political tension, but perhaps Kimmel believes it’s not his place. In that case, there should certainly be more women involved in ringleading the festivities. (Kimmel later backtracked and said he does have material that addresses Time’s Up.)
Though Kimmel’s hands may be tied by the Oscars themselves. Speaking to The New York Times, producer Jennifer Todd said, “We want to make it as entertaining as possible—reverential and respectful but also fun and emotional. The Oscars should be a spectacle. Fun and funny and great performances. It should also be a giant commercial for the movie business, which we all need to keep going.”
Todd makes it sound like she’s aboard the sinking Titanic. Is she right?
Perhaps. There’s always the notion that ratings drop whenever awards shows get political but perhaps the reason awards shows get political is because they’re not in tune with the times. The Oscars frequently call themselves a commercial for the industry and highlight films like Wonder Woman in every which way but awarding them. The Oscars like to have its cake and eat it too—trot out actors from the more popular films of the year while not rewarding any of those films in categories people care about. Maybe the show’s ratings are dipping because we’re still tied to the notion that to be celebrated in the industry you have to make films like The Post and Darkest Hour, which could be plucked from any ceremony from the past forty years and you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.
Channing Dungey, president of entertainment at ABC, agreed with Todd and said, “We certainly want to honor and respect Time’s Up and allow that message to be heard. But we’re trying to make it more planned than spur of the moment—it has its moment and then doesn’t feel like it overshadows the artists and films being honored. I would love for every award recipient to not feel like they have to acknowledge it independently”—which feels laughable in the sense that not a single man addressed the movement at the Globes, so clearly nobody in Hollywood is feeling coerced into supporting Time’s Up.
The only way to truly fix this problem is to fix Hollywood. You want to not talk about Time’s Up? Don’t support a system that allows men to prey on those weaker than them. You want people to watch the Oscars? Stop celebrating what a bunch of old white people in Hollywood have decided is “important” and start celebrating the fucking film industry. You can count on one hand the number of Best Picture winners that would turn up on anyone’s favorite films list who loves movies and either consumes or makes them, but the Academy seems forever bound to the Sturm und Drang of year’s past. In many, many ways that have nothing to do with men like Harvey Weinstein, Time’s Up.