And a lot of other things too, which may present focus issues for the new “Time’s Up” initiative. Three hundred women in Hollywood have organized this new effort to move beyond #MeToo into action to expose and then prevent workplace misconduct. Rather than focus on that in their own industry, at least as a start, Time’s Up plans to attack all workplace misconduct … as well as a litany of other social justice issues:
The #MeToo movement has given rise to #TimesUp, an initiative by 300 prominent women in the entertainment industry to fight sexual harassment and gender disparity in every workplace across the country from “movie sets to farm fields to boardrooms alike.”
“TIME’S UP is a unified call for change from women in entertainment for women everywhere,” the initiative’s website reads. “From movie sets to farm fields to boardrooms alike, we envision nationwide leadership that reflects the world in which we live.”
The initiative was announced today in an open letter of solidarity addressed primarily to working-class women and signed by hundreds of women in Hollywood, including A-list actresses Reese Witherspoon, Kerry Washington, Ashley Judd, Eva Longoria, Emma Stone, America Ferrera and Natalie Portman; producers Shonda Rhimes and Jill Soloway; Universal Pictures executive Donna Langley; and lawyers Nina L. Shaw and Tina Tchen.
So far so good. Hollywood, in particular, has need of an independent accountability structure to give women (and men) an avenue to prevent their exploitation and worse. However, that doesn’t appear to be Time’s Up focus. Not only do they want to involve themselves across all industries, according to this report on ABC’s Good Morning America, they want to address “racial and gender inequalities” too. Their first effort will be to organize a dress code for the upcoming awards season to signal support for victims, a dress code that many would have adopted anyway:
Male actors have decided to join forces with their female peers who will protest sexual harassment by wearing black to the 2018 Golden Globes.
A number of high profile actors including Dwayne Johnson, Tom Hiddleston and Armie Hammer will sport black on the Globes red carpet according to their stylist Ilaria Urbinanti.
After receiving many questions on the matter, Urbinanti took to Instagram to confirm the fashion news.
“YES the men WILL be standing in solidarity with women on this wearing all-black movement to protest against gender inequality at this year’s Golden Globes. At least ALL MY GUYS will be,” celebrity stylist Ilaria Urbinanti wrote last week on Instagram.
So people will wear black to awards shows, just as they have for decades — especially men, who usually wear tuxedos to these occasions. It’s not objectionable in and of itself, but it’s a poor substitute for action. Hollywood has a long history of pointless cause-signaling during awards shows, whether it takes the form of political speeches or ribbons on the chest. Mostly it’s just a way to look cool and hip, which long black dresses and black-on-black tuxedos accomplished on their own for the last fifty years or so.
This looks like a missed opportunity in another way as well. If these women want to create lasting change, they should focus on their own industry first and the present crisis, and work to change the culture there on sexual harassment and assault before branching out. This level of organization would be better applied to creating a private-sector endorsement process that would require studios to adhere to ethical processes for all of its products. The combined power of these women would make a formidable organization that producers could ill afford to oppose in the current political environment.
This model already exists to prevent mistreatment of animals by TV and film producers. The American Humane Society offers the opportunity for filmmakers to claim that “No animals were injured or mistreated in the making of this film,” or words to that effect, in their credits. They operate a rating system for judging performance to this standard, go public when it is abused or violated and is judged valuable enough that many filmmakers have AHS reps on the set to verify their adherence to AHS standards.
Rather than focus on pointless signaling, Time’s Up should organize itself to perform the same function for actors and others, both on set and in production companies. They can use their clout to demand observers or stewards to allow for complaints to be handled independently. Studios and agencies could negotiate the terms for processing those complaints, of course, but with the understanding that Time’s Up would go public immediately if that process was violated. They can then offer a grading system while raising enough money to ensure that any poorly rated productions and agencies would receive a lot of negative attention, as would any who refuse to engage with the process at all. If that can be done for horses and dogs, it can also be done for people without power in the industry, too.
Frankly, though, one has to ask why Time’s Up would be necessary. Hollywood workers belong to unions — the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, to name one — which should have been dealing with this problem decades ago. In that vacuum, though, opportunity awaits — for those who want to take serious and specific action rather than just add another ribbon to their lapels. Let’s hope Time’s Up will choose the former over the latter.