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The Sham of the Grammys
Let’s all wear black to a black-tie event, that’s ground-breaking, right? Well, not really actually…
First the Golden Globes paved the way for standing up to sexual violence and misconduct and the mistreatment of women in the Film and Television industry by making the dress code black. With Oprah Winfrey making a ‘rousing’ speech about how she doesn’t think that the sexual abuse of women is ok, which I would like to think is an opinion that is shared by the majority of people in the world, or at the very least the female half of the population.
Obviously the #TimesUp and #MeToo campaigns are at long last exposing the corruption found in the highest paying and arguably most influential industries: Music, Television and Film. The two, now merged campaigns are slowly developing into momentous social movements and the Grammys and the Golden Globes have started a potential avalanche in 2018 showing their intolerance to any mistreatment of women by making the message by their theatrical protests at both ceremonies. Sexual assault is a timeless issue, however it has taken until ‘Hollywood’ and the Music Industry calling it out for it to become a large campaign.
What was so extraordinary about the Golden Globes stunt? The answer to put it bluntly is: nothing. Not only is sexual assault an issue in the industry but so is equal recognition. The proportion of women nominated in mixed-sex categories was pitiful, and was even commented on by Natalie Portman as she announced the “all-male nominees” for the Best Director category. Glamourized events like the Golden Globes and the Grammys, attended by some of the wealthiest and most privileged people in the world is hardly going to change the lives of the abused women who do not have these advantages. Especially when all their efforts amount to is making a few speeches and wearing a white rose. It’s a statement yes, but actions speak louder than words in this case.
It seemed that the Grammys was a huge contradiction of itself, a night dedicated to empowering women, with barely a nod to the women in music. In one of the only categories where more than one woman was nominated, Ed Sheeran’s ‘Divide’ won ‘Best Pop Vocal Album’, over Lady Gaga’s ‘Joanne’, Kesha’s ‘Rainbow’, and Lorde’s ‘Melodrama’. This has been debated by many of the Grammys viewers, particularly because Kesha’s album ‘Rainbow’ was a personal response to her 3-year long legal battle against the sexual, physical and mental abuse she endured at the hands of her then manager Dr. Luke. The 2018 Grammys seemed to be an assortment of contractions, with one of the most profound moments of the whole evening being Kesha’s emotional performance of ‘Praying’, sandwiched in between a the male-dominated categories and winners.
In a recent Glamour article, it was revealed that since the beginning of the Grammys, men have been nominated and won 1930 awards, whereas women have been nominated for 411 and won only 113 Grammys. This year seemed no different, as the proportion of category nominations for female artists was embarrassing. Women at the 2018 awards ceremony won only 18.2% of the categories. A mere 8 females won out of 44 categories, making evident that the ceremony itself is not focused on equality and that women are not well represented for their prolific contribution to music in comparison to men.
It has been made clear by Neil Portnow, the Recording Academy president that it is women who need to “step-up because I think they would be welcome”. Apparently women in music are the ones holding themselves back… However, Portnow then went on to added an ignorantly contradictory comment to his first, that as a man, “I don’t have personal experience of those kinds of brick walls that you face”. The Grammys disappointing nominations and results for female artists in a year where female empowerment is crucial made the entire event feel hollow.
The white roses at the Grammys and black outfits as the Golden Globes has managed to raise awareness on a vast scale. This level of awareness will be extremely beneficial as the Times Up Legal Defence Fund is likely to have some seriously, influential donations as a result of the speeches and messages put out at the 2018 Grammys and the Golden Globes. The Times Up Legal Defence Fund is arguably one of the most positive outcomes of the #MeToo movement, as it directly assists women who have been sexually harassed in the work place by providing the funds for a legal case against their perpetrators in cases where they are disadvantaged by their financial situation. It is easy to donate to the Legal Defence Fund through the TimesUp website, https://www.timesupnow.com/.
If laws are improved to protect women against sexual misconduct and violence and both men and women are re-educated with an understanding of consent, then this movement could change how women are treated in other industries, not just the glamorous and high-paid ones. Although there are people who behave regardless of the education they are given, this movement has the potential to change how children and teenagers are taught about consent and sex if pressure is applied the government. We don’t want to see celebrities wearing a white rose to show solidarity, we would rather see individuals like Brock Turner brought to justice for their actions. (Known for only serving six months in prison after raping an unconscious woman on campus at Stanford University, largely because of his privileged background, which lead to a lenient prosecution.)
The Times Up website also has the letter ‘Dear Sister’, addressed to women in particular, stating that the time is up for mistreatment of women, and that the Times Up campaign will be supporting every women in every industry by showing solidarity in their own industry, as well as providing financial support for legal cases and emotional support by directing survivors to charities and organisations such as RAINN. Although the premise of the letter is for good, there are elements of entitlement, which is problematic and even narrow-minded. For example, “We recognise our privilege”. How does the recognition of privilege do anything for anyone else? It’s a statement of vanity and self-assurance, which will do absolutely nothing to help those who don’t have their privileges. Not only are they not promoting a clear goal in this letter, but they are also suggesting that women should take responsibility for sexual abuse issues, rather than a letter addressed to everyone, to take responsibility to help fix these issues.
People deserve actions, not words. Times Up’s publicity stunts suggest that this social movement is more of a publicity campaign to make these utterly pointless awards ceremonies gain some sort of relevance to the world outside of its own privilege. One of the biggest accounts of hypocrisy is that James Franco hasn’t been called out for the multiple accounts of sexual indecency. Despite wearing the pin of solidarity at the Golden Globes he has not addressed his accusations of harassing women. Scarlett Johansson publicly accused Franco and suggested he give back his ‘pin’ at the Women’s March on January 21st 2018. Her demand for accountability is one that should be consistent throughout all the industries that sexual harassment occurs in.
For this movement to become more than theatrics they need to harness the support they have and demand institutional, governmental and educational changes.
The time is now, the iron is hot. Time’s Up.