Time's Up: How Hollywood said 'no more' and demanded change

Wednesday, February 28, 2018 12:50PM
What is the Time's Up movement? Learn how Hollywood is demanding change.


LOS ANGELES - This year, the boldest color in Hollywood was black, donned by the industry's A-listers as they took a stand against workplace sexual misconduct at several awards shows.

It was all in the name of Time's Up, a movement that rose from the ashes of sexual misconduct allegations leveled against dozens of men in media, entertainment, journalism, politics and business. While it's only months old, the campaign has garnered international attention and raised tens of millions of dollars to support its cause.

Here's a look back at how it all unfolded and what's next for the movement as awards season wraps up.

ORIGINS OF THE MOVEMENT

In early October 2017, The New York Times published an explosive exposé accusing film mogul Harvey Weinstein of a decades-long pattern of sexually predatory behavior and revealing that Weinstein had paid settlements to alleged victims in eight of those cases. That reporting was followed by a subsequent story in The New Yorker accusing Weinstein of either sexually assaulting or raping more than a dozen women.

More than 80 women came forward in the weeks that followed and publicly accused Weinstein of sexually harassing, sexually assaulting or raping them. Among the accusers were Hollywood A-listers like Salma Hayek, Ashley Judd, Rose McGowan, Lupita Nyong'o, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Uma Thurman. Some accusers said Weinstein threatened to blackball them from the industry if they came forward with their allegations.

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An award-winning film mogul, Weinstein co-founded Miramax and The Weinstein Company, production companies behind a number of box office hits. He was viewed as a heavy hitter in Hollywood, and his ultimate demise sent shockwaves through the industry.

THE MOVEMENT GAINS MOMENTUM

As Weinstein, who denied the allegations, was fired from his company, expelled from film academies and denounced by his contemporaries, others came forward and leveled allegations of sexual misconduct against Matt Lauer, Louis C.K., Mario Batali, James Franco, Charlie Rose, Jeffrey Tambor, Al Franken, Kevin Spacey and dozens of other powerful men in media, politics, broadcasting and business.

On social media, women began sharing their own experiences as victims of sexual misconduct using the hashtag #MeToo, which was tweeted more than three million times in just weeks.

The formal Time's Up initiative was announced weeks later on Jan. 1, 2018. More than 300 women in Hollywood came together with what they called a "unified call for change from women in entertainment for women everywhere."

"We want all survivors of sexual harassment everywhere to be heard, to be believed, and to know that accountability is possible," the women wrote in an open letter, pledging to also address issues related to gender inequality and representation in Hollywood.

WHAT THEY'VE DONE AT AWARDS SHOWS

Awareness is the first step to any kind of campaign, and those involved in the Time's Up movement initially used awards shows - some of Hollywood's biggest nights - to get the word out about their cause.

In December, rumors began to circulate that A-listers were planning a red carpet demonstration at the Golden Globe Awards, the first major show of the season, to raise awareness about sexual misconduct. At the show, nearly all female stars eschewed the bold colors and prints that they typically wear on the red carpet, opting instead to wear all black. Their male co-stars, who would have likely worn black tuxedos anyway, donned lapel pins announcing the Time's Up movement to the world.



"We are really coming together to say time's up on the imbalance of power everywhere. No one should feel unsafe in the workplace," Kerry Washington said on the red carpet.

Some actresses took it a step further, inviting activists to attend the show as their guests. On the red carpet, many performers spoke about the burgeoning movement and encouraged viewers at home to get involved. Award winners also addressed the cultural shift in their televised acceptance speeches.

"We've lived in a culture brokered by brutally powerful men. For too long, women have not been heard or believed if they dared to speak their truth to the power of those men. But their time is up," Oprah Winfrey said as she accepted the prestigious Cecil B. DeMille Award.

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"A new day is on the horizon. When that new day finally dawns, it will be because of a lot of magnificent women...and some pretty phenomenal men fighting hard to make sure they become the leaders who take us to the time nobody ever has to say 'me too' again," Winfrey finished to a standing ovation.

Similar demonstrations followed at subsequent awards shows. While not all celebrities wore black as they made the rounds to the SAG Awards, the Critics' Choice Awards and other shows, red carpet chatter still focused largely on themes relating to equality and representation.

The music industry followed suit at the Grammy Awards on Jan. 28 after two female record executives organized a movement encouraging their peers to don white roses in solidarity with Time's Up, and members of the British film industry wore black to the BAFTA Awards -- Britain's version of the Oscars -- on Feb. 18.

TIME'S UP LEGAL DEFENSE FUND

Raising awareness, though, is only the first step to creating meaningful change. To help those who had been impacted by sexual misconduct in the workplace, the Time's Up movement worked with the National Women's Law Center to launch the Time's Up Legal Defense Fund, which will subsidize legal and public relations costs incurred by victims of sexual assault, harassment, abuse and retaliation in the workplace.

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As of late February, the fund has raised more than $21 million. According to a fund spokeswoman, 20,000 people from 50 states and 25 countries have donated, with individual contributions ranging from $5 to $2 million.

While Time's Up began as a movement spearheaded by actresses and other Hollywood heavyweights, the fund benefits victims in all industries and is especially focused on assisting those living in poverty and people of color. Organizers hope the fund will facilitate "access to prompt and comprehensive legal and communications [that will] help will empower individuals and help fuel long-term systemic change."

According to a spokeswoman, more than 1,670 individuals have applied for assistance from the fund, with additional applications coming in daily.

The movement has also launched a sister campaign in Britain, the UK Justice and Equality Fund, which has raised more than $1.4 million to support victims of sexual misconduct in that country.
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