Unless you have known someone who was very famous, it is difficult to explain just how much fame can change a person. When the right over the top personality becomes rich and famous, it becomes a toxic drug that makes some of the best turn into the most boorish people. I have witnessed first-hand what this drug we call fame can do and how when left unchecked is allowed to destroy what otherwise is a bright, caring, and talented individual.
So when I read stories about actors like Dustin Hoffman displaying horrible behavior toward 17-year-old interns over 30 years ago, it does not surprise me. A famous male actor at the height of his career who loves to be the center of attention while pushing buttons making sexually inappropriate comments to a teenage girl was pretty much allowed, expected, and encouraged in the 1980s. It does not make it right, but when other women on the set tell a teenage victim they have to expect it and put their values on the back burner for the good of the production, there becomes nowhere to turn for help.
So now, Dustin’s ugly little secret about his past has come back to bite him in the butt. Now he, and many other actors as well, are left to make blanket apologies for the behaviors they displayed back in the day that is no longer acceptable. Kevin Spacey is in the same boat and I assume by the time this goes to press, several other actors will be too.
What bothers me the most are not the stories of how these famous men with larger than life egos acted, but rather the stories of actors like George Clooney, Alec Baldwin, or Matt Damon who are covering the asses for having turned the other way when they knew full well a director or producer was harming women because they were on a power trip. These are the same actors who tell us how we should be living our lives and questioning the behavior of a president they hate, but who chose to stay silent to advance their own careers and thicken their wallets.
Their ass covering is merely making the far right look like Boy Scouts and provides them with a wonderful argument over the double standards the Hollywood elite live by. I know the next time I see one of these guys on film, I will be wondering: were they a party to the mistreatment of young women and men looking to break into the world of Hollywood?
Now that the cat is out of the bag and we have enough accounts of sexual crimes and horrific treatment of actors and actresses low on the Hollywood totem pole, what will change? What specific measures will film and television studios take to prevent more of what has become common place in Tinsel Town?
You can remove studio execs and actors from the awards process all you want, but what changes will happen so there will no longer be horror stories of 14 year old boys or 17 year old girls being subjected to horrific treatment?
The NFL has seen a huge drop off in their ratings and all over the issue of protests during the playing of the National Anthem. The people are speaking and saying they won’t tolerate any disrespect of the flag. Great. Will these same people, and even more, begin boycotting the next great Super Hero film or Star Wars adventure and hit Hollywood where it hurts most? If not, then you really have no real moral compass.
To say you are finished with the NFL over people using their First Amendment right to protest while being okay with attending a film with a star who did nothing while his director or producer or costar took advantage of young men or women is to say you support rape, assault, and the mistreatment of citizens who are just doing their job.
Ben Afflack has profited when perhaps he should have been charged with a crime. George Clooney chose to look the other way so he can claim plausible deniability when he knew full well what was going on. Dustin Hoffman has apologized long after he has earned riches and been awarded for greatness. The list is endless.
Maybe I am a cynic, but I do not think the culture in Hollywood will change much. It will weather this storm, but the wealthy, the powerful, and the famous will continue to mistreat others. Those who look to join the higher ranks of stardom will continue remaining silent and look the other way because they care more about their own careers than the treatment and well-being of others being taken advantage of.
Fame is not for the faint of heart and working for the famous is not either. To lose yourself and your values just so you can have the adulation of an adoring fan base is not a goal to work toward, it is a sickness. Once it takes hold, and once the fame sets in, there becomes a sense of entitlement that is not any different than what the Hollywood left sees in a Bill O’Reilly. One side is no better than the other and both need to be held in constant check and fear of being outed for their horrifying behaviors if change is ever going to take hold.
Top photo of Grant Heslov, Ben Affleck and George Clooney is a YouTube screenshot
Jim is a life long resident of California and retired school teacher with 30 years in public education. Jim earned his BA in History from CSU Chico in 1981 and his MA in Education from Azusa Pacific University in 1994. He is also the author of Teaching The Teacher: Lessons Learned From Teaching. Jim considers himself an equal opportunity pain in the ass to any political party, group, or individual who looks to profit off of hypocrisy. When he is not pointing out the conflicting words and actions of our leaders, the NFL commissioner, or humans in general, he can be found riding his bike for hours on end while pondering his next article. Jim recently moved to Camarillo, CA after being convinced to join the witness protection program.