I was scrolling through my Twitter timeline, minding everyone else’s business, when I came across an article entitled, “How the #MeToo Movement Could Kill Some Sexy Hollywood Movies,” via the Hollywood Reporter. After rolling my eyes so hard they could be on a river, I decided to take a gander.
In the article, several industry players dropped their commentary around a reportedly growing fear that sexy or erotic films will become a thing of the past unless they have a “feminist” spin.
Aside from agreeing that audiences may be less tolerant of explicit sex in films, I couldn’t help noticing the sheer avoidance of the rape-culture-colored elephant in the room. One particular quote that expressed a sentiment I was ... expecting, to tell the truth, stood out. It was from entertainment attorney Mark Simon: “There may be a concern in this zero tolerance climate that creativity and creative opportunity could be restrained because individuals may become unwilling to put themselves in situations that could be misinterpreted or misconstrued in the creative process.”
*Rubs temples.* OK ...
The skittishness surrounding whether or not films can be produced with sex scenes really reeks of cishet men whining about, “CAN WE EVEN COMPLIMENT Y’ALL EVER?? DAMN!” whenever women lament about sexual harassment. They can’t fathom the fact that a compliment doesn’t entitle them to a damn thing—nope, not even a smile—because they can’t hear any actual logical thoughts around the tantrums thrown atop their IKEA “Tocksick Masculinitee” Booster Seat.
Here’s the thing: Workplace sexual harassment and assault happen all up and through every single industry, so it has less to do with actors not being able to control their hormones while re-enacting sex scenes and more to do with the need to focus on creating a safe work environment, period. Novel idea!!
Anyone who has ever been on a set knows that producing sex scenes is, in fact, not sexy. The blaring set lights are searing into the actors’ skin as they try to remember their blocking while simultaneously attempting to ignore the critical gaze of the director, cinematographer, production assistants, grips, gaffers and a partridge in a pear tree. Very, very awkward and—I repeat—not sexy. However, it is up to the director to create a safe space that elicits the most vulnerable and impassioned portrayals from their actors. It’s not only good for the product; it’s good for the person.
Even as someone fully ingrained in climbing the ladder toward Hollywood success, I still can’t wrap my head around the idea that my priority should be concern for whether creativity will be stifled, just because masculinity is that fucking fragile. When I think about the #MeToo movement, I don’t think about whether or not Hollywood will continue to be “sexy.”
I think about a female former co-worker who was subject to advances to join a high-level attorney in his hotel room during a corporate holiday party. I think about Danielle Young’s strained smile standing next to Jesse Jackson, an image that has been etched into my brain forever, especially because I recognize it.
I think about the woman who chose to be nice to a passerby on the street who endlessly flirted with her and followed her home, and who had to grapple with the fact that if she had chosen to be “standoffish and cold,” it could’ve cost her her life. I think about the little girl who first noticed her hips and thighs because an old man creepily grunted under his breath while peering through her pants. And I think about how I have to look at that girl in the mirror every day.
Eliminating or avoiding sex culture in Hollywood is only placing a Sexy Snoopy Band-Aid on the issue. What is the action plan here? Make only G-rated films until the trendiness of #MeToo dies down? Extreme reactions like the quote from the attorney above are why I become cynical regarding everyone’s dedication to the true betterment of our society. We all know that the real work begins when we have to actually reinforce a healthy sex culture. Don’t worry; we can keep the sexy. Sexy ain’t the issue.
In fact, I happen to think that consent is sexy as fuck. Hell, let’s level that up: Enthusiastic consent is sexy as fuck. Let’s produce more of that in Hollywood and beyond, please.