Field Notes

Ed­i­tors weigh in on hot top­ics

Variety - - Contents - Clau­dia Eller Co-edi­tor-in-chief

For good rea­son, Va­ri­ety se­lected Tarana Burke as one of our five Power of Women, New York, hon­orees this past spring. At our cel­e­bra­tory lun­cheon, she re­ceived three stand­ing ova­tions. The founder of the #Metoo move­ment had put her now-12-year-old or­ga­ni­za­tion on the map a year ago next month af­ter Har­vey We­in­stein was outed by The New York Times and The New Yorker as an al­leged sex­ual preda­tor. #Metoo gave sur­vivors (Burke balks at the term “vic­tims”) an enor­mous pub­lic plat­form from which to voice ac­cu­sa­tions of sex­ual abuse by one of the in­dus­try’s most pow­er­ful movie moguls.

Over the year since those ac­cu­sa­tions first en­gulfed We­in­stein, who has been ban­ished from the busi­ness and is fac­ing po­ten­tial jail time, #Metoo and great in­ves­tiga­tive jour­nal­ism have played a piv­otal role in help­ing sur­vivors speak their truths about sex­ual mis­con­duct. With the added aid of the anti-ha­rass­ment group Time’s Up, many other in­flu­en­tial men in en­ter­tain­ment and me­dia — in­clud­ing most re­cently CBS leader Les Moonves — have fallen off their perches.

When we de­cided to de­vote this week’s edi­tion to ex­am­in­ing what Hol­ly­wood has and hasn’t done to help elim­i­nate the sex­ual abuse epi­demic grip­ping the in­dus­try, I thought no one would be bet­ter to write the cover story than Tarana Burke. Mind you, it’s not our prac­tice to per­mit non-staffers to au­thor cover sto­ries.

But Burke had earned the right.

In her poignant es­say, she re­mains skep­ti­cal about how much has changed over the past year for the sur­vivors of sex­ual vi­o­lence

“Some might see the cases of Har­vey We­in­stein and Les Moonves as book­ends to this year,” Burke writes. “But look closer and you’ll find at both the be­gin­ning and the end are sur­vivors and al­lies re­fus­ing to stay silent while peo­ple in power in­flict harm with­out re­course. … We’ve just scratched the sur­face.” An­other of my fa­vorite pas­sages: “It’s no se­cret that Hol­ly­wood runs off power, priv­i­lege and ac­cess, and be­cause of that it is im­por­tant in this mo­ment to also ex­am­ine the ways that unchecked priv­i­lege and power ac­cu­mu­late and are wielded against the most vul­ner­a­ble.”

#Metoo and great in­ves­tiga­tive jour­nal­ism have played a piv­otal role in help­ing sur­vivors speak their truths about sex­ual mis­con­duct.”

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