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MeToo Movement

Viral Footage Of Women Being Attacked In China Revives #MeToo Movement For The Nation

Security footage shared online showed a violent attack on female diners at a restaurant in China, sparking outrage online and a call to revive the #MeToo movement against gender inequality, something President Xi Jinping has tried to suppress.

Award

Adèle Haenel Walks Out Of ‘French Oscars’ After Roman Polanski Wins Best Director

France’s César Awards are the countries own version of the Oscars, and are viewed as such by viewers every year. Like the Oscars here in America, the César Awards have been rooted in controversy and political unrest throughout the build up to the ceremony itself. Things reached a boiling point when convicted rapist and disgraced director, Roman Polanski was not only still nominated for a whopping 12 awards at this year’s event, but he ended up winning as well, prompting multiple actors and individuals within the industry to walk out of the arena where the ceremony was held. 

Before the award show even aired, the entire board of individuals who oversee the ceremonies inner workings abruptly resigned, in response to the 12 nominations, claiming that his inclusion in the event in 2020 knowing all we do now is an indication of the academy’s “opaque decision-making process.” Polanski’s 12 nominations for his newest film “An Officer and A Spy” made him the most nominated individual at this year’s César Awards as well. 

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Adèle Haenel

“To honor the men and women who made cinema happen in 2019, to find calm and ensure that the festival of film remains just that, a festival, the board … has decided to resign unanimously. This collective decision will allow complete renewal,” the academy said in a statement.

Polanski himself didn’t attend the ceremony out of “fear of a public lynching.” Protesters began lining up outside of the César Awards early in the morning in order to express their massive anger at a convicted rapist still being acknowledged by a powerful group of individuals who are meant to uphold the sanctity of cinema. 

Beyond just civilian protests, when it was announced that Polanski won best director for the film, actors and industry workers alike walked out of the award show in disgust, including actor Adèle Haenel, who was also nominated for her performance in Céline Sciamma’s “Portrait of a Lady on Fire.”

As she and others were exiting it appeared that they were yelling “shame” and pointing at the stage. Footage of Haenel in the lobby of the Salle Pleyel, where the ceremony was held,  shows her clapping while yelling “Bravo, pedophilia!” in a now viral clip circulating the internet. 

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Adèle Haenel and Noémie Merlant

Haenel was joined by her “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” co-star Noémie Merlant and cinematographer Claire Mathon in the walk-out, as well as others. Haenel in general is one of the first major actors in France to speak out about sexual harassment/misconduct in the industry in Europe specifically. She’s been candid with the public in the past about her own unfortunate experience being abused by director Christophe Ruggia when she was just 12-years-old; Ruggia has since been arrested and charged by French authorities for “sexual aggression against a minor by a person of authority and sexual harassment.”

Before the award ceremony  Haenel discussed Polanski’s nomination with The New York Times stating: “Distinguishing Polanski is spitting in the face of all victims. It means raping women isn’t that bad. It [France] is one of the countries where the movement [referring to the #MeToo movement in America] was the most closely followed on social media, but from a political perspective and in cultural spheres, France has completely missed the boat.”

Roman Polanski was initially charged with unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor back in 1977 but fled from the United States to France to avoid conviction. Polanski’s been accused multiple times of sexual misconduct and assault, and convicted, so his inclusion and ability to still work within such a powerful and lucrative industry is more than disappointing.

However, the protesters outside the event and Haenel’s walkout were praised by many in Hollywood, including social media responses Rose McGowan, who tweeted, “You have both done it. You are breaking the French system. Keep going.” 

Cancel Culture

‘Cancel Culture’ Creates A Gray Area Of Accountability

Cancel culture has become a new wave in the realm of social media, and has been just as beneficial as it has harmful. To “cancel” literally means to destroy, whether that means the effectiveness, validity, or physical form of something, either way there’s a removal of authenticity. When celebrities get “cancelled” it’s referring to general society, and social media users alike, deciding to strip you of your platform due to personal reasons or a public shaming. For example, Kevin Spacey no longer being offered any acting roles and termination from any current acting roles he had at the time that his sexual assault cases came to light. The whole idea of cancelling people was born with the #MeToo movement and originally started with making sure men were held accountable, publicly scrutinized for their crimes, and taken out of any sort of spotlight, unless it was coverage of their court cases. 

We saw it happen to Matt Lauer, Harvey Weinstein, Louis C.K., etc. and rightfully so, no one should get away with using their power to intimidate and coerce others into doing something they don’t want to do. However, the cancel culture movement has begun to take a turn that has left many social media users confused on who they’re allowed to publicly support or not. People attempt to “cancel” singers and actors when they say one comment that maybe their fans don’t agree with, and from that point on the individual is branded with the scarlet letter of their mis-wordings. Many individuals attempted to cancel Taylor Swift, for her lack of political involvement when she has such a large conservative following, and more traditional first wave feminist lyrics. However, Swift took a turn within the past year, being very outspoken about her discontent with Trump and advocacy for the LGBT+ community. So it becomes a weird grey area that gets complex especially when social media is involved and personal vendetta against specific celebrities snowball into a multitude of reasoning’s behind stripping someone of their platform. 

“Cancelling” also doesn’t always work. Jenna Wortham, a culture writer for the New York Times, contemplated this phenomenon in regards to individuals who have been “cancelled” for serious crimes but still went on to gain success within their industry, such as Micheal Jackson and Chris Brown. She says “…Jackson is still everywhere. His songs influenced generations of musicians. It simply isn’t possible to totally cancel him. So it (cancel culture) doesn’t really work, you can’t just cut problematic people and problematic cultural properties or entities out because it’s whack-a-mole, right? You’re dealing with the symptoms of a sick society rather than actually treating the disease.”

Within the past year we’ve mainly seen “cancelling” in the form of old social media posts from celebrities that would now be considered offensive and insensitive. However, more times than not these celebrities were young teenagers when they tweeted whatever they get exposed for, we also need to remember how different humor was even just ten years ago. Humor was rooted in sexism, racism, homophobia, basically stereotyping in general was high at the time in regards to what was considered “comedy.” That doesn’t excuse any of the behaviour or content that’s come to light, but it does, yet again, create a tricky grey area. It seems that “cancelling” someone is less about holding someone accountable for a real consistent wrongdoing, and more gaslighting of one mistake made many years ago to distract from bigger issues. When a celebrity gets outed for something they said, or did, years ago that is deemed as inappropriate, offensive, or just straight up illegal, they should be held accountable, but we also shouldn’t let it tarnish complete careers/reputations. Obviously, every case is subjective and different, so we really can’t generalize when it comes to who should be cancelled and who shouldn’t, but we should make sure we’re paying attention, and engaging in discussions.

Comedian Billy Eichner took to Twitter a few months ago amid old homophobic tweets from Kevin Hart resurfacing which lead to his termination from hosting the Oscars. “I’m not into people being permanently ‘cancelled’ over something like this. To me, ‘cancellation’ is childish. I’m into conversation, not cancellation. I’m into owning up to past mistakes, acknowledging blindspots and hurtful remarks, talking through it, discussing it, learning, moving past it and making progress together. To cancel someone immediately, is denying them that opportunity to learn and grow.”

Eichner is making a lot of valid points and while this is commentating specifically on the aspect of cancelling culture that is scrutiny over past offensive tweets, jokes, etc. it speaks volumes to how quickly we as a society are ready to change our thoughts on an individual based on public perception. It needs to be more about a discussion around what was deemed offensive, why it’s offensive, and how the person plans to make up and grow from it. 

While cancel culture isn’t always valid, sometimes is over reactive, and is basically all based around grey areas of accountability, it does, at least, do just that; hold individuals accountable.