Oh no, really? Wouldn’t you know – here it is my 100th Chapter and my concern is with the #metoo movement…
Now before you get all unglued, let me say that I understand the pain and concern that has been expressed in many corners for the behaviours of many males. And I realize that for some the pain and anger is of such a degree that it requires mega-actions being taken. In those cases I do hope that in the end there is some healing, although when I listen hard I am not convinced that healing will come through the processes being pursued. But that is not for me to judge.
What I will say is that it strikes me that many in the #metoo movement have created an atmosphere that is anti-arts, anti-entertainment and at times anti-history. That some women have felt badly treated I can appreciate; but as any student of history can tell you, the world keeps changing in both its focus and its standards. Each young generation sees itself as close to the best yet and in so doing, often sees all previous generations as seriously deficient in at least one, if not more, significant category. When I was in college many did not believe war was the solution to anything (past, present or future) and there was much condemnation of anyone speaking to the contrary – especially those in the military-industrial complex/alliance. And the protests were not simply folk festivals or drug seances. There were full-scale riots, burning of buildings and other forms of violence (especially on college campuses) that led to death at times (google Kent State University in 1969/70).
I mention this because I believe that we have entered a pseudo-Victorian era where justice is not the issue to be sought out, but rather revenge or at least a complete changing of the guard in what and/or who sets the standards from which a new definition of justice can emerge. Nowhere is this more evident than in the entertainment industry. And let me give you the most obvious case that has come to my attention – Netflix’ House of Cards.
I am not going to defend Kevin Spacey’s personal behaviour primarily because I have never been in his presence and so I have no idea what he is like or what he does on his own dime. But he is a great actor – Margin Call alone may be his best role opposite Jeremy Irons. Moreover judging from the first five years of House of Cards he is a very good Executive Producer. And his performance as Francis Underwood was classic political intrigue. Each episode was riveting and was fairly believable, no matter what was happening. Then he was accused of impropriety in his behaviour with young men. Suddenly he was dropped like a live grenade from everything he was doing. Why? No one could give me a sensible answer at the time, and it is obvious that the results of such actions didn’t improve life on the planet and it certainly didn’t improve the Arts.
After some serious re-writing the sixth season of House of Cards came to Netflix this year. Judging by the credits, it is almost all done by women and Robin Wright is now the sole Executive Producer. Well, for those who want women to reign, this is a sorry example of what happens when your wish doesn’t equate to the challenge. I’ve watched the entire sixth season, hoping after each episode that the next one would begin to come together as a thoughtful part of the overall story, that there would be some believe-ability in the female president (which held so much hope as the fifth season ended). Moreover, I also fervently hoped that the other characters would regain their powerful roles in the drama. There were always some great secondary stories, some additional intrigues, to keep one guessing as to what might be the next big moment.
Well, guess what? The sixth season ends like a slide for kids on a beach at a lake. It just plopped into the water and sits there. The final scenes for most of the characters either meant they were killed off or were about to die from cancer. The final words of the President were no more pain (or words to that effect) and I hope that means they are parking that series because it ended up being a bust — it was painful! It was like the middle years of West Wing when Sorokin left the show. Robin obviously relied on Kevin for most of the decisions, and her best acting was in contrast to him — they counter-punched well and any conflict was suspenseful. Without him she didn’t become better, without him the story didn’t become more intense, without him, the whole show collapsed. And for what purpose?
That’s where I need some help. What did the world of entertainment gain by trying to bury Kevin Spacey? He may have done some bad things. He may even have lied about things. But judas priest, our Prime Minister does that with impunity!! And he is lauded in the media and by his television producers. Kevin didn’t even get to apologize – he was found guilty by accusation. How does this raise the moral standards of our world?
I know young women who have had moments in their lives that they wish they could have avoided. But instead of tearing down others, they have risen beyond all primary expectations for them let alone for women. They have provided leadership. They have provided dynamic role models. They have inspired many. These are the women who ultimately will change the world for the better. These are the women who will cause the world to move towards greater justice. And in the process they won’t necessarily have to destroy good art and good entertainment or anything else to do so.
Every so often I read about a group that rises to power that spends much of their energies destroying art and literature. Usually those groups have been condemned as barbaric. I wonder when the apologists will tell us that this latest uprising also was barbaric. While its initial aim may have been worthy, it quickly lost its way in its desire for absolute power. I still can find some decent entertainment, some of it led by very talented people of different persuasions. My beef is that #metoo has besmirched the landscape unnecessarily. My only hope now is that some of the leadership in that movement will step back and ask itself: what is our real aim and how best can we achieve it without censorship, without wholesale destruction? Maybe the library of Alexandria can’t be brought back; maybe the books and pictures that were burned in Europe in the thirties can’t be restored, but hopefully civil discourse and justice for all may yet be enshrined in our current world.