Magazine article Variety

The #Metoo Moment Has the World Watching

Magazine article Variety

The #Metoo Moment Has the World Watching

Article excerpt

Hollywood movies have long had an outsize impact on the rest of the world. Now a Hollywood scandal is as well.

What began as an exposé of sexual misconduct by Harvey Weinstein has snowballed into a global cause célèbre, one that's roiling not just the entertainment industry but also the realms of politics, business and education far beyond American shores. Senior officials in Britain have been forced to quit amid harassment allegations. Members of the European Parliament share their #MeToo stories. The president of France, Emmanuel Macron, says his country is "sick with sexism" and has vowed to fight discrimination and violence against women. "We must act before it's too late," Macron declared.

Corporate boardrooms, film festivals, college campuses, talk shows and online forums are abuzz with stories from people, mostly women, who are newly emboldened to speak out about their experiences of intimidation and assault. True, the newfound openness isn't spread evenly across the globe. In many regions - parts of Asia, for example - such topics are still taboo or swept under the rug. But even in some socially conservative areas like the Middle East, the Weinstein scandal has triggered awareness and demand for reform with the force and speed of a dam burst.

Nowhere has the atmosphere been more electrified than in Europe - particularly Britain and France. Both countries once garlanded Weinstein with national honors.

"This is about a culture change," says Kate Kinninmont, head of the London- based advocacy group Women in Film and Television. "Harvey Weinstein has done us all a favor of being so horrific and repulsive that nobody wants to be in that corner."

Weinstein has been kicked out of BAFTA, and some British lawmakers are seeking to rescind a title bestowed on him by Queen Elizabeth II for his contribution to the arts. Scotland Yard is investigating a dozen complaints against him by eight women, for alleged assaults dating as far back as the 1980s. The Yard is also investigating sexual assault allegations brought by two men against Kevin Spacey.

After the Weinstein scandal broke, Kinninmont's organization heard from more than 100 individuals in response to an appeal for people to share tales of mistreatment in the workplace. Complaints of misconduct have also spiked at the BBC, the world's foremost public broadcaster. The Beeb recently announced that it was yanking a much-anticipated show from its Christmas lineup because of rape allegations against one of the stars. "It's gone in the bin, and the only way it's ever going to come out ... is if you've proven [his] innocence," says Edel Ryan of JLT Specialty, an insurance brokerage with expertise in media and entertainment.

As in Hollywood, there's a widespread sense in Britain that the current reckoning is long overdue, as are clear codes of conduct setting out the standards of decent, professional behavior - and the penalty for breaching them. Groups such as the British Film Institute, BAFTA and the British directors' guild are collaborating on industry-wide guidelines for dealing with harassment and bullying. "It's not rocket science. Some of it should be quite obvious, but it just needs to be spelled out, and everybody has to take responsibility," Kinninmont says. …

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