Strolling down Hollywood’s Walk of Shame

by Cat Timoney

Friday, November 17th, 2017

Strolling down Hollywood’s Walk of Shame

The shiny lights of tinsel town dim in the wake of numerous sexual harassment allegations

THE RECENT sexual allegations against disgraced media mogul Harvey Weinstein have brought a number of harrowing tales of assault, harassment and gross abuses of power in the entertainment industry to the fore. 

Littered in the wake of Weinstein, lie many more of the industry’s most renowned personalities including famous photographer Terry Richardson who has now been banned from working with any of the Conde Nast publications due to sexual misconduct, and Kevin Spacey- accused of making sexual advances on a boy of just 14 when he himself was 26.

The notion of Hollywood harbouring disgraced stars is not new considering some of Hollywood’s biggest names are tarred with the brush of gross sexual misconduct from Marlon Brando to Woody Allen, so why has it taken so long for these accusations to get the recognition they deserve?

SOCIAL MEDIA AS A TOOL FOR GOOD

More often than not, social media is seen as a force of evil sent to isolate, bully and radicalise the most vulnerable in our societies, however in this case social media proved a vital tool to promote awareness, empower victims and open up a dialogue.

Following the accusations of Weinstein, the hashtag #MeToo surfaced calling for victims of sexual assault and harassment to post this in a bid to raise awareness and create a conversation surrounding the everyday nature of such sexual violations.

While #MeToo was no new Twitter campaign as the term was originally coined in 2007 by activist Tarana Burke as the name of her campaign supporting women of colour surviving sexual abuse, the wildfire nature of social media allowed the hashtag to go viral, with more than 1.7 million women and men across 85 countries having used the hashtag since it was first tweeted four weeks ago.

#MeToo represents the commonplace nature of sexual abuse in everyday lives raising awareness and provoking social change in a way that arguably could not be done before the days of social media.

A second social media campaign was launched on Instagram by Cameron Russel a former model who began sharing anonymous stories of harassment in the industry alongside the hashtag #MyJobShouldNotIncludeAbuse. This sparked many other models, actresses and musicians to share their stories of the industry in a move to spread awareness and empower those affected by the actions of their abusers.

These two hashtags generated huge interactions across social media, bringing people together to discuss these issues in a way they have never been able to before- connected in a public space with the option to support each other with likes, comments of support and shares to ensure the voices of victims are heard.

SHUTTING DOWN SEXIST ‘JOKES’

A number of sexist bumbles have also represented how attitudes towards sexual assault are changing, with now zero tolerance to supposed ‘jokes’.

At a black tie charity do earlier this month, America’s beloved James Corden made a series of quips on the subject that were not well received by event attendees who groaned in response to the remarks regarding an obviously sore subject.

Online, Corden was criticised by a number of female industry personalities including Asia Argento, who alleges that Weinstein raped her, who called Cordon a pig and shamed those who ‘grunted with him’.

Arguably, comedians have always played close to the bone in situations like these, however thanks to campaigns like #metoo and #MyJobShouldNotIncludeAbuse amplifying the stark reality of the commonplace nature of sexual assaults like this, women and men alike feel empowered to call out these ‘everyday sexist’ comments, reiterating the stark seriousness of the situation.

Quick to rectify the situation, Cordon tweeted that he was not trying to make light of Harvey’s inexcusable behaviour, however fatally used the American spelling of ‘behavior’ prompting critics to accuse Cordon of a thin PR statement from his American representation.

This echoes the classic crisis PR must of apologising when necessary and apologising well and in sincere, simple, human language. In this instance, Cordon’s statement arguably made the situation worse as the apology lost its human element, appearing as though instead of taking the time to reach out himself, he had his people pull together a thin apology that did not wash.


Crisis PR Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word

Sorry seems to be the hardest word as major brands struggle to make amends. The team at Holyrood PR are on hand to help, providing the best advice for how to overcome crisis by choosing the right words. Read our recent blog looking at the latest non-apologies from businesses and brands


A SHIFT IN OPINIONS

While seeing these events unfold across social media, and realising the sheer scale of the issue has been harrowing, it is clear that there has been a shift in conversation surrounding the topic and it is clear that now victims of assault will not be silenced, nor will they stand for this gross misconduct in the workplace or otherwise.

It is now hugely important for businesses to look within and make sure all employees from the top down are behaving appropriately, extending respect to all colleagues in a way that will reflect positively on the company.

This notion is not something that should be surprising or unfamiliar in the workplace, nor is it something that should require a dramatic shift in behaviour but it is something that can only serve to help the organisation look out for its staff and avoid a public scandal.

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Private: Cat Timoney

Cat Timoney launched her career as a communications professional with award-winning public relations agency, Holyrood PR in Scotland. She works from the offices of Holyrood PR in Edinburgh

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