Hollywood isn't done with the casting couch yet

How long has this #MeToo moment been going on now? It actually started more than a decade ago, but it really kicked into gear last year. And now, in June of 2018, the Screen Actors Guild (SAG-AFTRA) has finally gotten around to some policy changes which they believe may go at least “some ways” toward doing away with the casting couch. I suppose better late than never always applies, but reading through the outline of this proposal it seems that the ladies might have reason to be even more frustrated. (The Hill)

The country’s largest actors’ union has reached an agreement with television networks to eliminate the so-called “casting couch” in an effort to address sexual harassment in the industry.

SAG-AFTRA announced their agreement with broadcast networks ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox to reduce auditions and meetings held in private hotel rooms and residences.

“The agreement now reflects important new language limiting auditions or meetings in private hotel rooms and residences, which represents a partial realization of our work toward industry culture change,” said union President Gabrielle Carteris in a release.

The wide-ranging deal also addresses issues of wage increases, benefits and labor conditions for dancers, singers and background actors, as well as a change to contract language “that explicitly prohibits harassment.”

So they’re agreeing to try to reduce the number of auditions and meetings held in private hotel rooms and residences? Reduce? Companies in other industries are literally looking at putting glass walls in all managers’ offices, always leaving the doors open and ensuring that women aren’t left alone with male supervisors. And Hollywood is going to “cut down” on the number of times an actress is told to go see the producer up in his hotel room?

This is a multi-billion dollar industry. Why are you having any meetings in people’s houses or hotel rooms? Surely you have some offices somewhere that you could use. What sort of message are you sending to young actresses when they’re expected to show up at the director’s house? Hey, come on in, babe. The bedroom’s at the top of the stairs.

As to the other changes, I notice that contracts between actors and production companies are going to “specifically prohibit harassment.” First of all, that’s sort of a cosmetic thing because harassment was already illegal. But more to the point, how is it that the contracts didn’t already have that included?

There are too many stories out there now to be ignored. The big money men in movies and television have obviously been using the talent agencies and casting network as their own private brothel for about as long as the industry has existed. And from the sound of these lukewarm half-measures, they’re not in much of a hurry to change that situation. I’d previously thought that Harvey Weinstein might have been a rather rare and repulsive exception to the rule, but at this point, I’ve grown convinced that he was only the most powerful and wealthy of the bunch. SAG needs to do better than this if they want to be taken seriously.