Hollywood Blacklist 2017
by Susan Basko, Esq.
With uncanny parallels to the 1950s McCarthy era Hollywood Blacklist of those suspected of being Communists, we have the 2017 Hollywood Blacklist of Men with Errant Libidos. Who is running this thing? I imagine people at the big agencies saying, "They took out one of our big comedy guys, let's see what we can find on one of their guys."
I also imagine those men cast into the Briar Patch rebounding and banding together to form their own Superstudio. The Weinstein-Spacey-Louis CK-Dustin Hoffman Studio. And whoever else, probably leaving out the ones that were way past their prime entertainment-wise. The movies and series being suddenly scrapped may be picked up for distribution at a later date in a less conspicuous venue.
The "casting couch" has long been a Hollywood truism. "Casting couch" has been a metaphor for most any sort of sex act induced or coerced by a male in power onto those seeking work in the industry. Those forced onto the metaphorical casting couch include young actresses, good-looking young men, and child actors. That this has included women being forced to "consent" to watch as a more powerful man masturbates in front of them was previously unknown, at least by me. While we might have supposed that anyone with such a predilection would be too embarrassed to let others know how creepy they truly were, it turns out, this has not been the case. Louis C.K. has even stated that he believed his actions were consensual because he asked permission first. Asking first or not, sexual exhibitionism does not belong in any workplace.
The utter lack of dignity of exposing one's compulsions, and one's genitals, to unwilling people, is in itself not an act of power or control. It is an act of being out of control of oneself, which is never powerful. A genuine act of power involves being in charge of one's own sexuality, being a Master of My Domain, as they said on the old Seinfeld show.
Will Hollywood henceforth be a "safe place"? Will the Grand Purge of 2017 send a strong message that is passed through the ranks and remembered for decades to come? Will women and children and young gay men now be safe from unwanted sexual acts? Will they now feel free to speak up when something does happen? If there is a complaint mechanism set in place, will those that do make complaints find themselves on a blacklist of complainers?
Will the quality of drama and comedy entertainment suffer if those with errant libidos are dashed from the ranks? Many of those now being placed on the Blacklist are highly accomplished. Does having a highly charged, inappropriately mediated sex drive often accompany those with the sort of creative drive it takes to make good drama or comedy? If only "nice guys" can make it in the future entertainment industry, will the product churned out be banal or lifeless? Do we need Lotharios to play Lothario? Or can a Lothario be played by a Mr. Squeaky Clean Nice Guy? And how were we fooled so long into perceiving Bill Cosby as a Mr. Squeaky Clean Nice Guy?
And how about edgy comedy? Must one actually be on the edge to create it? Is there an audience for demented humor from demented people? And is that okay? Or must everyone in Hollywood be a nice person making nice comedies for nice people? And would that be funny?
How the future gets shaped is how we shape it.