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‘And the Oscar for biggest pedophile goes to…’: Hollywood dragged over #MeToo

Three billboards in Hollywood were covered Feb. 28 with slogans blasting the entertainment industry over the recent sexual misconduct accusations. (Video: Reuters)

The Oscars have been criticized for years — for the show’s self-congratulatory nature, for the lack of racial diversity among its nominees, for occasional tone-deafness — but this year the awards show finds itself in an even more precarious position.

Viewership of the spectacle, which is to take place Sunday in Los Angeles, has been declining for years — to about 33 million in 2017 from 46 million in 2000.

The film industry was far from the only one shown to be riddled with problems related to the treatment of women, but it holds a particularly ignominious role as ground zero for the larger #MeToo movement. Movie producer Harvey Weinstein hangs like a specter over this year’s ceremony. Criticism has already spilled into full view, with Hollywood taking it on the chin publicly.

In the heart of Los Angeles, three billboards made in the style of the Oscar-nominated “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” were draped with sharp messages that took aim at the industry’s complicity in the sexual-misconduct scandals.

“We all knew and still no arrests,” read one of the billboards, all of which were located near Wilshire Boulevard and La Brea Avenue.

“Name names on stage or shut the hell up!” read another.

“And the Oscar for biggest pedophile goes to … ”

The Los Angeles street artist Sabo, a supporter of President Trump, took credit for the billboards on Wednesday, part of a wave of criticism from conservatives against the predominantly liberal industry, which has grown louder during the Trump administration.

On the other side of the spectrum, an artist known for making unflattering statues of a naked Trump around the country, immortalized Hollywood’s infamous “casting couch” — the practice of powerful men offering women roles in exchange for sex — with a statue of a robe-wearing Weinstein on a gold sofa.

This is the story of how Hollywood's unique power structure enabled sexual harassment to remain the entertainment industry's open secret. (Video: Nicki DeMarco, Erin Patrick O'Connor/The Washington Post, Photo: Sarah Hashemi/The Washington Post)

Located near the Dolby Theatre, the Oscars venue, the statue depicts Weinstein, a longtime academy member holding one of the statues — films produced or distributed by his former company have won 81 — near his groin. It is made to allow people to sit beside Weinstein for photos, ensuring its broader visibility, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

“The whole couch and the entire image it gives off was to me a visual representation of the practices and methods that are used in Hollywood with these big, powerful people,” artist Joshua “Ginger” Monroe, who made it with the street artist Plastic Jesus, told the publication. “They have money and power to give jobs, and they use that for their own sexual gratification, and there’s no better way to visualize this than the way we did with the casting couch.”

This year’s Oscar nominees are more diverse, but has Hollywood really changed?

The New Yorker also referenced casting couches with its cover this week.

Designed by artist Chris Ware, the cover features a woman in a red dress on a couch in an office, waiting, it seems, for an interview, acting tryout or perhaps worse. A camera is trained on her and recording; her head shots sit on a desk. A man is adjusting the curtains on the room’s big glass windows.

The image’s strength is in its ambiguity: Is the man lifting up or pulling down the shades covering the room’s glass windows? Is he an assistant, a potential accomplice or the person who sits behind the desk himself? Whoever’s office it is, they’ve displayed their industry awards proudly on a shelf, including an Oscar and a Golden Globe.

“Movies are the dream models by which multiple generations have codified, altered and pushed the boundaries of their behavior,” Ware said about the cover. “For too long, we have forgotten that, while actors like Clara Bow, Marilyn Monroe or Lupita Nyong’o may be film stars, they are also human beings, subject to the totality of life.”

The Los Angeles Times ran competing opinion pieces arguing for and against the show.

Jeffrey Fleishman wrote that the Oscars have lost their relevance, saying that they feel even more insignificant amid the larger problems facing the world.

“They are not hip or clever enough to draw in the young, and they don’t honor enough blockbuster titles to entice the popcorn set,” he wrote. “The show’s political asides, less brave than long overdue, and moments of industry self-deprecation, more calculated than pure, fail to capture, even though they will jab at them, the deeper currents of our visceral #hashtag times.”

Host Jimmy Kimmel has said that the show will address the #MeToo movement but did not give specifics.

Read more: 

Jimmy Kimmel might be America’s conscience, but he’ll still do anything for a laugh.

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