#MeToo, Five Years Later: No One’s Fully Returned From “Cancellation” — No, Not Even Louis C.K.

Amid the flurry of accusations against powerful Hollywood men in the first few months of the #MeToo era, industry observers often shared similar hopes. After an arrest or indictment, the thinking went, the accused would be back on their feet after a short time and, after a few memory-wiping news cycles, would continue their careers without repercussions. The dollar is king; Hollywood always forgets. etc

This has not happened. In fact, the returns – if they materialize at all – are staggering and remarkably limited. One of the greatest achievements of #MeToo, on a practical level, has been its relentless administration of professional punishment.

Think about how few prominent people accused of sexual harassment or assault in the post-Weinstein era have returned to equal stature. This category excludes the likes of Jamie Foxx and Ryan Seacrest, who were denied the charges against them in the court of public opinion, as well as Dan Harmon, who was acquitted after accepting an apology from his victim. This debate doesn’t even concern those whose allegations surfaced before 2017 (like Casey Affleck), as well as a few businessmen so rich, insecure, and irresponsible that it doesn’t matter. has to (see Russell Simmons, although he had to. resign from his company).

Les Moonves. The value of feedback. Brett Ratner. Matt Weiner. Jeremy Piven. Kevin Spacey Folk Basin. The list goes on. Some of them are moving around, meeting, massaging contacts, even pursuing projects – some of which even get completed. They are fooling themselves too.

It’s impossible to accurately determine career damage because you can’t prove what happened or will still happen. In addition, some immeasurable portion of the work that is saved is done out of sight, in low-profile games like consulting and investing.

Enforcers of persistent opposition — a coalition of #MeToo-aligned activists, influential voices on social media and like-minded press outlets — have limited the scope and breadth of comeback efforts. They have done this by responding immediately and to any perceived effort, however trivial, tangential, or circumstantial.

A key rhetorical strategy is to frame even the most tentative bid for rehabilitation as an offer of undeserved redemption, ensuring the continued radioactivity of the accused and anyone helping them. The person should also be threatened with crime. After that, removal is reinforced.

In this way various announcements are made. Remember Charlie Rose’s related bid this April, when he posted an interview with Warren Buffett on Substack? This trial balloon was quickly shot down, and eyebrows were raised at the Oracle of Omaha’s reputation for participating in money laundering. Or, in 2019, the reinstatement of Bryan Singer as director Red Sonja? Bong was so loud that producer Avi Lerner, not known for pushing around, soon gave him the job. transparent Creator Joey Soloway (Director MJ Bassett recently took over.)

Louis CK and John Lasseter are often highlighted as examples of successful #MeToo-era comebacks — glowing for their sympathizers, infuriating for their detractors. Yet if anything, they symbolize the new ceiling.

CK’s remaining audience has shrunk to his die-hard true believers, a direct-to-consumer fan base to whom he can creatively coast and to whom he can easily sell. (Except, of course, for those smaller crowds he dazzles with performances in comedy clubs, regardless of their leanings.) Yes, he won a Grammy this year for comedy album, but he’s not the main one. It served to remind the people of the overall backwardness. The Recording Academy and, yes, he recently announced on his mailing list that he’ll be playing at Madison Square Garden in January 2023, validating some of those early #MeToo frustrations, though there’s little indication of that. That he’ll fill the venue with the type of general audience a craft comedian like him wants to win over. He is also culturally imprisoned. No one is asking him to work in another. American Hustle or their production Better things. CK is a shadow of his former self, a modest figure.

Meanwhile, Lasseter took the head position at Sky Dance Animation, making films at or near the scale and distribution he had previously enjoyed, his own remarkable recovery due to this fortune. is one of the few businessmen so rich, insecure and unaccountable that he simply condemns. It doesn’t matter—David Ellison, heir to the multibillion-dollar Oracle fortune—grew up at Pixar with saucer eyes hanging. Lasseter might be considered a strange uncle, but as luck would have it, his mentor apparently considers him like family.

Regardless, Lasseter’s new role is nowhere near the stature of his previous perch as COO of both Pixar and Walt Disney Animation. Then, there is the prestige of the industry. These days, Lassiter likely won’t be asked to speak at a top film school, because there would be protests, and it remains to be seen whether his films will be shunned by Oscar voters. , with which it is increasingly pressing to keep up. The curve of social sentiment.

It’s true that some big names — including Shia LaBeouf and James Franco, who have both denied the most damaging allegations against them even as they’ve admitted wrongdoing — are always on the verge of a full-blown comeback. Look at But such a revival has not materialized yet. At some point the culture may take another turn. For now, let’s rule the day ahead.

This story first appeared in the Sept. 28 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe..

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