Chris Powell: Half-naked actresses denounce sexual harassment in always hypocritical Hollywood



Resending to fix word inversion in Carroll quote


Hollywood -- the movie industry -- has always been a self-congratulatory and hypocritical cesspool and it was no less so at the Golden Globes awards ceremonies Sunday night.

Lots of pretty actresses appeared half-naked, posing in turn for photographs, embodying the sexual temptation on which the industry is built, but this time their skimpy clothing was colored black as a protest against the supposedly unwanted sexual interest they were striving to tempt.

Receiving an award for her contributions to entertainment, media entrepreneur Oprah Winfrey rebuked the predators who long have been in charge of the cesspool. "For too long," Winfrey said, "women have not been heard or believed if they dared to speak their truth to the power of those men. But their time is up."

"Not believed"? Whom was Winfrey kidding? 

Hollywood has been notorious for the sexual predation of its casting couches since movies were invented. The problem has never been that actresses weren't believed but that, single-mindedly pursuing wealth and fame, they played along with the predation, until recently when a few actresses whose positions were secure publicly accused the producer who may have been the worst of the predators. Whereupon dozens more actresses came forward -- and every one was instantly believed, precisely because of Hollywood's sick reputation. 

Indeed, in regard to sex the reputations of Hollywood particularly and the male gender generally are so bad that some politicians and activists, like Connectiut state Sen. Mae Flexer, D-Killingly, propose essentially to repeal due process of law with sex offenses. 

After all, when all men are guilty or at least suspect, why should their accusers have to identify themselves in court, and why should there be any statute of limitations in sex crimes? So what if the premise of statutes of limitations is that it is nearly impossible even for innocent people to document their defense after an extended time, like the five years Connecticut has designated for most crimes? 

A few centuries ago Blackstone's "Commentaries on the Laws of England" held that "it is better that 10 guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer." Today's sex-crime lynch mob holds instead with the Queen in Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland: "Sentence  first -- verdict afterwards."

Of course sex always has been and always will be problematical. But Western civilization gradually has improved both sexual conduct and justice, despite the movie industry, which, as the Firesign Theatre scoffed in 1970, is always "presenting honest stories of working people as told by rich Hollywood stars." Hollywood and its half-naked actresses have no authority to lecture the country about sex. With its gratuitous violence Hollywood has no authority to lecture the country about anything.  Hollywood is hypocrisy. 

At the awards ceremony Sunday night the actress Meryl Streep condemned the "power imbalance" in society. "It's in the military, it's in Congress, it's everywhere," Streep said. 

Yes, that imbalance is everywhere. But at an Academy Awards ceremony a few years ago Streep joined a standing ovation for the director Roman Polanski, who could not attend to collect his trophy because he long has been on the run from sentencing for his statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl. 

Does Polanski's artistry excuse him? Streep seems to have thought so, and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has not yet revoked Polanski's award. But Hollywood's self-congratulation continues.

Chris Powell is managing editor of the Journal Inquirer, in Manchester, Conn., and a frequent contributor to New England Diary.