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Just one day before voting nominations closed for the 90th Academy Awards, five women accused actor James Franco of “inappropriate or sexually exploitative” behavior, according to the Los Angeles Times. Franco avoided the red carpet at the Screen Actors Guild Awards but sat through the ceremony alongside many people wearing a Time’s Up pin.
Franco did not receive an Oscar nomination for his role in The Disaster Artist. Ohio University student Molly O’Brien couldn’t help but think that had to do with the allegations.
“It’s kind of sad that he wasn’t nominated,” O’Brien, a freshman studying journalism, said. “I think (Time’s Up) is a positive movement that is uniting females together, but we have to realize allegations are allegations and not all facts.”
The allegations surrounding celebrities will lead to more scrutiny of those nominated for awards, Alexandra Kamody, the director of The Athena Cinema, said.
“It’s definitely changing who is going to be celebrated and who is going to be shamed or ostracized from the community,” Kamody said. “We’re seeing a lot of change right now.”
Franco is the not the first Oscar nominee to be accused in recent years. At last year’s ceremony, actress Brie Larson refused to clap for actor Casey Affleck when he won Best Actor for his role in Manchester By The Sea. Larson said it was in response to sexual harassment allegations, but not much more was said after the ceremony.
The allegations against Affleck would have caused more of a commotion in today’s climate, Akil Houston, a pop culture expert and an associate professor of cultural and media studies at Ohio University, said.
“As a man, you know, it's time to grow up because a lot of us have just sort of lived in this privileged space where women can be objectified and insulted and we don't have to do anything,” Houston said. “Now … because women are naming names and people are telling stories, we all have to be accountable.”
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Affleck did not address the allegations following his win, but Franco did on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Houston said the men do not need to make an eloquent speech or even publicly apologize.
“I think to really transform, the least impacted have to be the most outraged. It means men having conversations with other men, and I frankly like to see less just women taking over symbolically and more men taking responsibility.” - Akil Houston, a pop culture expert and an associate professor of cultural and media studies at Ohio University
“I don’t think you need a big public speech,” Houston said. “There needs to be a ‘let’s deal with this issue,’ and then people can see where you stand based on your behavior, not just what you said.”
When sexual misconduct allegations involving Harvey Weinstein surfaced in October, women in Hollywood started speaking out against big-name celebrities and politicians. Since then, 120 men have been accused of sexual misconduct — and the number is growing every day.
Time magazine put some of the women speaking out on its cover and highlighted the #MeToo movement. It’s no surprise the conversation has taken over award season.
Women wore black attire to the Golden Globes, and most attendees wore Time’s Up pins on their outfits to support a movement that aims to provide legal support to those affected by sexual harassment in the workplace. For the first time ever, the Screen Actors Guild Awards featured all-female presenters.
Kamody expects the topic of sexual harassment to dominate the 90th Academy Awards on March 4, but it remains to be seen if it will bring about lasting change in the film industry.
The Time’s Up movement is not the first of its kind in the film industry. There have been conversations surrounding race and gender and their representation at the Academy Awards.
Whenever a movement gains attention from critics, the Academy finds a way to appease people that specific year but not institute real change, Houston said. It happened with the #OscarsSoWhite, so Houston is apprehensive the “spectacle” taking place right now will have a lasting impact.
Kamody noticed a lot of men sitting back at the Golden Globes ceremony and not engaging in the conversation.
“Maybe it’s just time to listen,” she said.
But Houston says men must be willing to speak about sexual misconduct and more importantly, hold other men accountable.
“I think to really transform, the least impacted have to be the most outraged,” Houston said. “It means men having conversations with other men, and I frankly like to see less just women taking over symbolically and more men taking responsibility.”
The Time’s Up and #MeToo movements have woken a lot of guys up, Andrew Hohman, a senior studying journalism, said, because people did not really understand the magnitude of sexual harassment until more women started coming forward.
Most of the conversations have involved women speaking out, but being part of the conversation is something everybody needs to consider, Hohman said.
“This is the type of conversation that’s open to everyone, but it’s a decision you need to make to be a part of,” he said. “If you’re a man, you want to be a part of the conversation. … You need to be against what has happened.”
Because men are the people mostly in charge of film companies, Hohman said most of the change will have to come from the men. Bringing more women up to positions of power will also help “make it easier” for women to get the job done, he added.
One way to make sure less women are harassed is to put women in charge, Houston said, but it is more than just putting women in a position of power. If the women in charge have the same viewpoints as the men before them, there won’t be any change, he added. There have to be people who can point out when women are being objectified.
“If Hollywood is true to form, we’ll see a lot of the symbolic change, but we won't see a lot of substance change,” Houston said. “To me, it's great that people are speaking up and this is a public conversation, but what's more impressive is if behind the scenes (more work is being done).”