It is insulting to say that recent events have shed light on the entertainment industry epidemic, known as the “Casting Couch.” This practice of producers and directors using their power to engage in sexual harassment and assault started from the very beginning of film itself. What is surprising that when the practice come to light in the 70’s and 80’s, nothing has changed. As much as Hollywood has been complaining about it, the situation is worse, not better.
I’ll make a little prediction here. If Hollywood is lucky, a half a dozen of directors, producers, agents, and managers will go down for their crimes, which is good. What is bad, is that we’ll stop talking about it and the practice will continue.
I’ve perused the SAG-AFTRA, the Directors Guild, and the Producers Guild websites. All have condemned/expelled Harvey Weinstein. All have condemned sexual harassment. Only the Producers Guild has committed to establishing a “Sexual Harassment” task force. Something we’ll probably never hear about again.
“As much as Hollywood has been complaining about it, the situation is worse, not better…”
I don’t mean to be a pessimist, but after a hundred years of filmmaking, a task force? Condemnation of the “casting couch” is a nice sentiment and effective in “covering your ass,” but it’s hardly a call to fix the problem.
The first step to fixing the problem is for every person involved in producing film or television to agree that having sex is not a part of the process of producing film or television. It shouldn’t have to be said, but it’s not normal to have sex with someone in order to get an audition, to book a role, or keep your job.
It’s Not Normal! It’s Not Normal!
In fact, let’s just call it that—The “It’s Not Normal” campaign. We can hashtag it too—#ItsNotNormal. It’s simple straightforward and common sense. One should be able to figure out if an actress is right for a part based on an audition and her current body of work. I don’t mean to be glib, but you’ll learn nothing more about her approach to the role by having sex with her.
How about this for a mission statement for all the guilds to adopt:
Sex is not necessary to produce any film or television project. It’s Not Normal! #ItsNotNormal
SAG-AFTRA has a responsibility to protect is membership and future membership from being confronted with any “casting couch” situation. SAG-AFTRA should document complaints from its membership, protect whistle-blowers and demand in the collective bargaining process producers police its membership and take steps to ensure this never happens again.
SAG-AFTRA should maintain membership complaint records of producers, directors, agents, managers and casting agents and agencies. It should also set standards for the auditioning and casting process that protects its membership. If there was ever a reason for acting community to go on strike, this is the reason.
The Directors Guild of America (DGA) and Producers Guild of America (PGA) has the responsibility to police its own membership for any director engaged in sexual harassment and assault before, during, and after every project.
Let’s end on a positive note—economics. The worse thing to come from the “casting couch” is next great actress, writer or director, you never saw. Or worse, the spirit you broke of the ones you saw. Starting today, dismantle this archaic, de-humanizing practice for the sake of producing great art or at least for the potential of making a shit load of money?