Thanks to many brave women, the other half of the human race also gets to see off a host of bullies, thugs, sexual predators, accosters, rapists and various drooling creeps populating positions of importance and leadership roles, often operating at the pinnacles of achievement and creativity. It’s 2018 and #TimesUp for high-functioning, highly paid predators and sociopaths. These dopes weren’t grateful for their good fortunes and willing to play nicely, as in, say, writing checks to charities and generally keeping their hands to themselves and their eyes on society’s top prizes. No, these gorillas ran around showbusiness harming women, by either blocking their progress or sexually harassing them or both, and all the time abusing their own positions of power.
All of this done, it should be noted, while usually relentlessly making their male counterparts and underlings miserable in myriad ways.
Which means that #MeToo and #TimesUp may both have at least two meanings each and there’s a #MenToo movement out there as well as a #JerksGone contingent, both giving thanks to women for the positive knock-on effects of their heroism.
But while #TimesUp is a hugely important, positive, impactful, influence-spreading human-rights movement, it’s important to note that it is the second one that has swept the entertainment business in two years. Last year, #OscarsSoWhite was the #TimesUp for whitewashing and opportunity-hogging and it boldly spoke truth to power.
The impact of #OscarsSoWhite can be felt in the fresh and not just white (or American) new faces in the Academy, as well as the opportunities for filmmakers of color and the tremendous popular and critical successes we’ve seen recently, from last year’s historic “Moonlight” best picture win and this year’s mega-hit critics’ fave, “Get Out.”
Paralleling all of this, there’s the #TheResistance, which is the #TimesUp of virtually every other political cause and or issue that Hollywood cares about. Trump’s presidency is widely seen in Hollywood as the biggest regression in American social justice, science, diplomacy, compassion and liberal democratic principles in modern times.
But Trump’s rise has been met not just by a rise in show business voices and tempers, but also by #TheResistance activism, which is passionately organizing and communicating the urgency of the political moment.
Also, as 2018 begins, the Oscar race perfectly mirrors the turmoil, pain and hopefulness of this #TimesUp moment and I think they all represent yet another facet, this one completely focused on the film arts.
A Mexican named Guillermo del Toro has proven with “The Shape of Water” that walls are no match for humanistic maestros. A black filmmaker named Jordan Peele has delighted us with “Get Out,” a scalpel-sharp thriller that is only the outside layer of a brilliant meditation on black life in America. In “Darkest Hour,” Churchill embodies the virtues of wisdom and bravery in a leader; “Dunkirk” celebrates the common man’s engagement as essential to the war against tyranny.
Becoming a woman with her own voice by her own hand and heart becomes a hero’s tale worthy of Joseph Campbell in “Lady Bird.” “Call Me by Your Name” has the revolutionary wallop of a cultural milestone simply by tuning into the universality of a young love that just happens to be gay and the gods are not angry.
“Three Billboards” tackles the poison of hatred whether fueled by racism or grief and offers hope for an antidote of compassion found somewhere inside the human heart.
The news is not “fake” in “The Post,” it’s the firewall between a free people and a power-hungry presidency and government. And if you want a potent brew of auteur cinema that’s intently focused on male-female power relationships stripped to their raw core, P.T. Anderson’s made a picture called “Phantom Thread.”
This year’s Oscar nominees make it abundantly clear that #TimesUpForMoviesThatDontMatter.
As optimistic as all this makes me, it does leave one last, perhaps, minor but relevant cause, which I may be launching here: #TimesUpForInterminableAwardsShows.
In the words of Darion, not Cervantes: “To dream the impossible dream …”
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