Has The MeToo Movement Changed Hollywood for the Better?

Has the #MeToo Movement Changed Hollywood for the Better?

The MeToo Movement is important.

By Frankie Wallace.

It seems like just yesterday that a women’s movement over a decade in the making took off across social media to demonstrate the real impact of standing together as one. In fact, it’s been almost two years now since MeToo Movement went viral, spreading like wildfire across social media platforms and empowering women to speak out about their sexual assault experiences. The movement successfully demonstrated how many people are impacted by sexual assault.

The MeToo movement took off less than two weeks after actress Ashley Judd accused famous film producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault. In the following months, several victims of sexual assault came forward to accuse other high-profile Hollywood men of sexual assault, several of which faced career-altering consequences.

The movement continues to push forward, and while it’s difficult to say what its impact will be down the line, there are a few things that are clear. The MeToo movement helped unite and strengthen victims of sexual assault by giving them a voice. It also changed the debate on consent and sexual assault, both in Hollywood and day-to-day life, giving men in positions of power new angles from which to view and hold themselves accountable.

Changes in the Film Industry

Over the last year, several prominent Hollywood figures have faced criticism and backlash from their peers and colleagues for allegations of sexual abuse. Due to the public nature of Hollywood, the repercussions faced by those accused of sexual assault have been very clear, especially as networks and media companies attempt to make their intolerance of sexual misconduct clear.

The following are consequences faced by prominent Hollywood figures:

  • Harvey Weinstein: Upon being accused by several women of sexual assault in 2017, the film producer was dismissed from his company Miramax and expelled from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. He was arrested the following year.
  • Bill Cosby: The comedian and actor faced accusations of sexual assault and abuse by dozens of women that dated back decades. Cosby’s NBC and Netflix shows that were set to be released in 2014 and 2015 were both canceled, as were reruns of The Cosby Show. The actor was sentenced to three to 10 years in prison last year.
  • Kevin Spacey: At the dawn of the #MeToo movement, actor Anthony Rapp accused Spacey of making sexual advances towards him when he was 14 years old, causing several other men to come forward accusing Spacey of sexual assault. He was charged with indecent assault and battery towards an 18-year-old man, was removed from House of Cards, and his role in another film was reshot with another actor before its release.

Hollywood and the film industry are both hugely influential in what the world sees as an example, as they are both largely responsible for much of the content that is consumed by the public. Seeing as famous Hollywood individuals are often in the spotlight, the manner in which sexual assault allegations are addressed within the industry helps set an example in all other sectors.

Addressing Sexual Assault

As a microcosm of society at large, the film industry could seriously change gender politics. Out of fear for being accused of sexual assault, many men in power in the film industry are becoming more considerate regarding their actions towards women. The example set by the film industry, in regards to preventing and calling out instances of sexual assault, could bode well for every industry.

Schools and businesses, for example, are both often guilty of poorly addressing instances of sexual assault. College campuses in particular have a history of ignoring or covering up reports of sexual assault, especially when it comes to their athletes. In the last few years, reports of sexual assault have increased — although it’s unclear whether this is a result of more sexual assault or simply more women feeling empowered to report it. With the #MeToo movement, the climate regarding this topic is changing for the better.

Movies Shedding Light on Sexual Assault

Seeing the consequences of sexual assault in Hollywood can help children and teenagers become familiar with sex, consent, and sexual assault. Many school administrators and parents treat these topics like taboos, which does children and teenagers a disservice. In order to teach them what consent means, and how to stay safe, they need to be aware that these situations are common and become more common as they get older.

Another way to familiarize older teens with sexual situations and consent is by exposing them to films and media that address some common scenarios in these topics. Three films that talk about sexual assault and empowerment include:

  • Kill Bill Vol. 1 (2003): Like most Querintino films, Kill Bill is rated R for violence, language, and sexual assault. Beatrix Kiddo is a former assassin who was left for dead by her ex-lover on her wedding day. She survives but is comatose for four years, in which she is raped at the facility where she receives her care. Upon awakening, she kills a man that attempted to rape her and another employee who had been selling her body.
  • Precious (2009): Rated R for sexual assault and pervasive language, Claireece “Precious” Jones is raped by her father. She is pregnant for the second time and is regularly abused by her mother. She is illiterate and in a bleak situation until being transferred to an alternative school, where a teacher encourages her to read and write to improve her future. The movie encourages victims to escape their abusive situations.
  • Assassination Nation (2018): This drama thriller is rated R for disturbing violence, sexual material, and pervasive language, all committed by teens. The movie channels feelings of frustration regarding widespread apathy about the state of politics today, leaving audiences with renewed vigor and conviction.

Transforming the Film Industry

The film industry has the power to address all kinds of current social issues. It has the opportunity to tastefully address situations that are not yet at the forefront of social movements. One of these that is not well addressed by #MeToo is the prevalence of sex trafficking.

Many people believe that sex trafficking only occurs in less developed countries, where people are more socially and financially vulnerable; however, human trafficking occurs in many areas of the U.S. as well. When people don’t realize that sex trafficking occurs in the U.S., it can lead to a lack of awareness among people who could possibly intervene and help victims.

One way to raise awareness of these issues that mostly affect women is by getting more women involved in every industry. The MeToo movement has helped many people realize the need for equality in the film industry, and by raising awareness of this, has helped change Hollywood — and its audience — for the better.

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