Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical left and Islamic terrorism.
When Time picks an abstract concept as its ‘Thing of the Year’, it’s the kiss of death.
The magazine’s 2011 edition celebrated the Arab Spring’s ‘Protester’ just as the worst of the civil wars were getting started. In 2006, it picked ‘You’ just as the big web companies began crushing individuality on the internet. In 2002, it cheered the ‘Whistleblowers’ you haven’t heard from since. And in 1993, it put Arafat and Mandela on the cover as the ‘Peacemakers’. Good luck finding that peace.
So #MeToo was headed for trouble as soon as it became Time’s ‘Thing of the Year’. The cover, with the accusers dressed in somber black, foreshadowed the black dress code at the Golden Globes.
The cover wasn’t a win. It was a sigh of relief. Hollywood, the media and other cultural industries had been running scared of the scandal for months. Now they were finally getting a handle on it. In public relations, you get ahead of the scandal. You understand what makes it tick and take it apart.
Awards season was looming. And the culture industries were figuring out how to take #MeToo apart.
Harvey Weinstein had tried to shift the conversation from the women he was accused of raping to the NRA. Hollywood followed the same basic strategy without being quite as tacky as Harvey. It moved the conversation from #MeToo’s rape accusations to virtue signaling about diversity in the industry.
The best way to fight one hashtag was with another hashtag. #TimesUp replaced #MeToo. But where #MeToo was a raw personal accusation, #TimesUp was an impersonal leftist slogan of political urgency. #TimesUp for all the bad things we don’t like. Especially #MeToo. #TimesUp was safe where #MeToo was risky. US Weekly could advertise 9 #TimesUp products that showed you were down with the cause.
They included a $380 sweater.
#TimesUp had plenty of female stars out front. But they didn’t claim to be victims. Instead they were taking the safe Hollywood position of supporting victims. Victims as far from Hollywood as possible. #TimesUp’s official site features a huge letter from the “sisters” of Hollywood vowing to stand with female farm workers, janitors, health aides and illegal aliens suffering from sexual harassment.
You can’t redirect the problem any further away than farm country.
In true Hollywood style, the solution is sending a lot of money to an established lefty group to tackle the problem: the National Women’s Law Center. It’s the same old Harvey Weinstein solution. Throw money at a trendy lefty cause and keep on inviting actresses up to your hotel room. Play the noble celebrity hero saving poor people in flyover country by writing big checks to big lefty insiders in major cities.
#TimesUp’s noblesse oblige was celebrity rehab for awards season. Spielberg was rolling out The Post. Its theme was Oscar bait, championing the anti-Trump Washington Post, and its stars were living Oscar bait. But Meryl Streep had been accused of knowing all about Harvey’s rapes. Posters for The Post had been vandalized with the “She Knew” tag that followed her name all around La La Land.
Streep led the #TimesUp list. She called for a charge against the safest targets in Hollywood. "I don’t want to hear about the silence of me," she whined to the New York Times. "I want to hear about the silence of Melania Trump.” It was up there with Harvey vowing to focus on fighting the NRA.
But the industry went into overdrive to reinvent one of the wealthiest women in Hollywood as a victim.
After ranting incoherently about President Trump, Robert De Niro revealed that his real mission was fighting for Meryl Streep’s equality. "Astonishingly, today, women are still struggling to get their rightful place and their fair share. I am still fighting for Meryl (Streep) to be able to get 79 cents of what a man would get to play Graham. It's shameful. I know."
Meryl Streep is being paid $825K an episode while De Niro is only making $750K an episode. If anyone’s making 79 cents on the dollar here, it’s Bobby.
But talking about how actresses aren’t being paid enough is a safe subject. The industry can always cut a bigger check to the small club of #TimesUp actresses with negotiating leverage as long as its titans don’t have to stop assaulting the much larger club of actresses with no leverage at all.
Salaries are negotiable. Prison sentences aren’t.
The other solution was, also in true Hollywood style, style. The industry was going black. The women would wear black dresses. The men would go on wearing black jackets. And everyone would put on a #TimesUp pin to signal their commitment to whatever the hell the hashtag actually stood for.
Most of the actual victims of #MeToo weren’t invited to the Golden Globes.
James Franco wore his #TimesUp pin to the Globes. He won Best Actor. And then the ghost of #MeToo emerged with women accusing him of inappropriate behavior. The #TimesUp pins weren’t working.
Or maybe they were.
Multiple sexual assault accusations against Oscar winner Paul Haggis went mostly unnoticed. Haggis, like Streep, is a reliable delivery system for award season leftist tripe. #TimesUp’s curated female celebs had far more to say about female farm workers and diversity than about Haggis and Franco.
#TimesUp didn’t mean standing up to Haggis or Franco. It was Natalie Portman grousing about the lack of female nominees for Best Director. Like so many of the #TimesUp representation complaints, it was self-serving. Portman’s directorial feature debut, A Tale of Love and Darkness, an adaptation of anti-Israel hack Amos Oz, sank under the weight of poor reviews. But maybe next time, she’ll be nominated anyway. Nominations for the small circle that Portman belongs to are almost as cheap as checks.
Put more female celebs up front and no one will have to talk about the rapist in the industry closet. Especially if they’re black women.
Hollywood’s manic response to #MeToo was to build a wall out of black women. Oprah’s narcissistic speech and the phony presidential hype heaped on her afterward was only the most obvious example.
#TimesUp’s legal defense fund is co-headed by Nina Shaw. Its parent beneficiary, the National Women’s Law Center, is headed by Fatima Goss Graves. #TimesUp was careful to keep Shonda Rimes up front. And there was Anita Hill heading a commission with a name too long to bother writing or reading.
Race isn’t an actual Hollywood defense against rape.
Birth of a Nation was the ‘It” movie of the new Black Nationalist trend in 2016. Then, Nate Parker, its director, was confronted with a past rape accusation. Coming to his defense was Harvey Weinstein.
"I know Nate Parker and I've always found him to be a wonderful man," Harvey insisted.
"You try to smear the messenger," Al Sharpton ranted at his hate group, the National Action Network, whose events had been attended by Barack Obama and Eric Holder. Sharpton suggested the accusations were some sort of conspiracy against black people even though the victim had committed suicide.
Diversity doesn’t stop sexual assault. There are plenty of photos of Oprah and Harvey Weinstein palling around. One of Harvey’s accusers even connected seeing Harvey with Oprah to trusting him. But it is a great way to change the subject over to affirmative action. And that’s what #TimesUp is really about.
#MeToo isn’t quite dead, but #TimesUp changes the subject. There’s only so much room for the latest allegation when the media is busy chatting about what the rise of new black female directors means.
Cut in some actresses and lawyers, and the party can go on all night. Just ask Lisa Bloom and Meryl.
The girls will cover for the boys. They’ll write, produce and direct Oscar bait about the plight of female farmworkers. And it’ll win. Everyone in the industry will talk about how bad life is out there while the assaults go on in hotel rooms, closets and cars.
It’s a real Hollywood ending.