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March 5, 2018

A night of star-studded hypocrisy

By Olenka Hamilton

It’s hard to choose the most nauseating moment, on what turned out to be another vintage Hollywood night of self-congratulation.

Was it when presenter and comedian Jimmy Kimmel, after joking that the Oscar man was the most decent man in the room because you could see where his hands are at all times – quite a funny line to be fair – came out with the following fatuity: ‘We need to set an example… we can work together to stop sexual harassment in the workplace…’

Or was it Frances McDormand’s acceptance speech? Going up to collect her best actress award, the Oscar-winner held her left hand poignantly to her breast and called on all female nominees in the room to stand up. ‘If I may have the honour,’ she said, followed by a sharp intake of breath, and then more sharp intakes of breath calling on Meryl Streep to lead the way. Women around the room stood up, all teary eyed, clapping earnestly.

They’ve already done it once this year at the Golden Globes, when the actors all wore black and cried tears of injustice at an industry which allows them to earn hundreds and millions of pounds every year and affords them a lifestyle which is in no way similar to that of any of the people they pretend to be speaking on behalf of.

It is actually amazing that an industry which is as corrupt and morally obsolete as Hollywood, has succeeded in turning the fact around and have the media project it to the world as a bastion of decency. It is also very depressing for all of us to have to witness it. The very notion of Hollywood’s actors, producers and directors somehow now doing us a favour and changing the world for the better by relentlessly bringing attention to the decades of their own sexual depravity beggar’s belief.

Do they not realise that no other industry behaves like theirs — expect perhaps politics, where self-importance and ego reside at equally stratospheric levels? Yes, there is the natural dynamic between the sexes which occasionally leads men to go a bit too far (it is fashionable to deny that there is difference between men and women, but if men and women are exactly the same, why separate best actor and best actress awards and not a generic award covering both sexes?) —  but most people will agree that Harvey Weinstein’s behaviour – if the testimonies of Rose McGowan and others are true – was extraordinarily disgusting  and not something the ‘normal’ people come across very much.

Actually, the self-indulgence following the Weinstein revelations is typical of an industry which attracted the likes of Weinstein in the first place. Presumably everyone knew what was going on or had a strong enough inkling of it long before it came to the surface, but that is another discussion.

The point is, the culprits have been outed (finally), and ultimately Meryl Streep and others in their designer gowns haven’t done too badly. I’m not saying that all these women were throwing themselves into the arms of Weinstein. Far from it. But the assumption that they are speaking for women all over the world in every industry is the pinnacle of narcissism.

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But clearly Hollywood doesn’t get it. Guillermo de Toro, who won best director, said at his acceptance speech: ‘The greatest thing our industry does is to erase the lines in the sand.’ That they are erasing lines that they themselves have drawn seems to be completely irrelevant.

Olenka Hamilton is staff writer at Spear’s

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