Sexual harassment and abuse by Hollywood elites should be obvious to anyone who watches the movies and TV shows Hollywood produces.
The fact is, Hollywood never hid its sexual harassment or abuse in fiction — often depicting “casting couch” scenarios, turning harassment and assault into jokes and depicting rape fantasies as “love.”
So it should be no surprise that the number of Hollywood stars making allegations of sexual harassment, assault and even rape by industry professionals continues to grow. In an Oct. 16, speech for Elle’s Women in Hollywood event, Reese Witherspoon shared some of her experiences including that she had been sexually assaulted by a director at 16 years of age and “felt that silence was a condition of my employment.”
She joined a long list of women and men who have made serious allegations about abusive sexual behavior common in the film business following The New York Times’ explosive Oct. 5, report about Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. The investigation alleged he had been sexually harassing women for nearly 30 years.
While it seemed like a dirty secret, the ongoing revelations seem to indicate these behaviors were well known inside the business. In fact, the Associated Press traced allegations of sexual misconduct by producers, directors and actors back to at least 1921. The AP story recounted examples including Shirley Temple’s claim a producer exposed himself to her when she was only 12, the frequent propositioning and groping of Judy Garland in her teenage years and Joan Collins’ claim she lost the lead in “Cleopatra” by refusing to sleep with the studio head.
Onscreen, Hollywood was even less secretive about abuse entrenched in its depraved, business culture. Here are just nine films or television examples that prove it.
1. 30 Rock - 2006-2013
30 Rock follows a live comedy show writer as she tries to handle a demanding boss, actors and difficult deadlines. But this show was more open than most actually using Harvey Weinstein’s name in jokes about sexual harassment several times.
In season six (2012), actress Jenna Maroney tries to get a cease and desist order against Weird Al Yankovic because he keeps parodying her songs. When someone tells her she doesn’t want to mess with Weird Al, she says “I’m not afraid of anyone in show business! I turned down intercourse with Harvey Weinstein on no less than three occasions — out of five.”
In season seven, Maroney tries to console a friend who misses their ex by saying “I know how former lovers can have a hold over you long after they’re gone. In some ways, I’m still pinned under a passed-out Harvey Weinstein, and it’s Thanksgiving,” Think Progress reported.
Weinstein jokes weren’t 30 Rock’s only examples of sexual harassment. During a script reading in one scene, a male actor compliments a female on her “beautiful skin,” to which the woman replies that she is married to a woman.
“I’ve got four inches of steel that might change your mind,” he replies while leering at her.
2. The Last Tycoon - 2016
Amazon’s original production of The Last Tycoon, based on an unfinished F. Scott Fitzgerald book, shows the extreme competition between studios in 1930s Hollywood, the glamour of moviemaking and the darkness beneath it all. And sex, sex and more sex.
Studio executive Ray Brady for example, is a repeat offender who sleeps with his secretaries, actresses and sometimes their managers. Actress Margo Taft knows Brady’s incessant sexual predation and how desperate he is to have her in his movie, turns the tables on him. She asks him what he would do if forced to choose between sleeping with her and having her in his movie. He then tells her he’s wondering how he can “end up with both.”
She accepts the film role, but only after he agrees to her demands — which include a percentage of box office grosses and a private meeting with the film director in which he must expose himself to her. Disturbingly, Bustle thought that Taft’s “gumption” was fantastic even though that would also be sexual harassment of a man by a woman.
Ultimately, Taft didn’t make the director drop his pants. She later explains to someone that as a child actress she was abused by Hollywood manager who literally pimped her out. Requiring her directors to humiliate themselves in front of her is her form of revenge for that early sexual abuse.
3. Gods and Monsters - 1998
The Oscar-winning fictionalized drama Gods and Monsters is based on real-life film British director James Whale who directed Frankenstein in 1931 and other horror classics. Whale was homosexual.
Early in Gods and Monsters, Whale tells a reporter that in his early days in Hollywood, “if you were a star, nobody cared [inaudible] who you slept with as long as you kept it out of the papers.” When it came to “us directors,” people didn’t even know their names, Whale said, let alone care what they do. Whale only answers the reporter’s questions after he agreed to remove an article of clothing for each question he asked.
The movie mostly portrays Whale, well into retirement, befriending a young and handsome gardener Clayton Boone. Boone is straight, and repeatedly tells Whale he is not interested in a relationship.
Despite Whale assuring Boone “I have no interest in your body,” he still makes Boone uncomfortable by graphically describing his own sexual history. At the end of the film, Whale kisses and gropes Boone, and then threatens to blackmail him with by telling people “I’ve been kissing you, I even touched your prick! How will you ever be able to live with yourself?” Whale justifies his actions by saying he was trying to get Boone to strangle him.
Gods and Monsters illustrated that sexual harassment in Hollywood by the powerful elites isn’t only reserved for women.
4. Casting Couch - 2013
Given the sordid history of real life directors’ “casting couch” behavior to extract sexual favors in exchange for onscreen roles, it’s not surprising at all that filmmaker Jason Lockhart decided to make a movie about six sleazy guys and their “ultimate plan to hook up” by casting a fake movie full of “hot chicks.” “We aren’t casting for their talent,” one of the men blatantly declares.
The men use the fake auditions to get attractive women to kiss them, strip, and pose for photo shoots. At one point, a women remarks uncomfortably, “the casting didn’t say anything about nudity.”
Ultimately, the fake moviemakers are only interested in finding out “who’s willing to go the farthest to get the part.”
5. Tootsie - 1982
In Tootsie, Dustin Hoffman plays struggling actor Michael Dorsey who masquerades as Dorothy Michaels in order to get a part on a soap opera. The film is a comedy about acting and daytime dramas that turns sexual harassment and sexual assault into a joke because the woman is actually a man dressed in drag.
After being given a shared dressing room, Dorothy read script changes for the day’s shooting and exclaims, “Oh, my goodness. I have to kiss Dr. Brewster.” Co-star April Paige (played by Geena Davis), replies nonchalantly, “Oh yeah, he kisses all the women on the show. We call him ‘The Tongue.’”
Before the scene which is supposed to include the onscreen kiss, the actor playing Dr. Brewster looks Dorothy over and says “You’re Dorothy Michaels aren’t you? I’m John Van Horn. We’re up next,” and then squirts breath freshener in his mouth while leering at Dorothy.
Although Dorothy deflects the onscreen kiss by ad-libbing, shortly afterwards the lecherous John Van Horn engages her in conversion and forces a long kiss on her. He walks away smiling while Dorothy stands there in stunned silence.
Later in the film, Dorothy returns home to find Van Horn outside her apartment. He had followed her home the day before to find it. He claims to just want to talk and begs her to let him come in for a “tiny moment.” Dorothy only invites him in after Van Horn disturbs the neighbors by singing in the street.
“Dorothy I want you. I’ve never wanted a woman this much,” Van Horn tells her and tries to force himself on her. In the midst of a physical struggle, Van Horn says “I’ll take straight sex” and he continues struggling to obtain it. He ignored the fact that Dorothy hasn’t consented and is physically trying to stop the attempted rape.
Michael’s male roommate Jeff arrives before Van Horn succeeds and Van Horn, assuming the roommate is Dorothy’s boyfriend, tells him “for the record, nothing happened here tonight” and then apologizes to Dorothy and says “I didn’t understand.”
Although played for humor because Dorothy is actually Michael, “rape is not a laughing matter” — a point Michael makes to Jeff once Van Horn is gone.
In other scenes, intimate physical contact is also shown casually, such as a director patting an actress’ butt on set after giving her directions for a scene and telling the entire cast about "his desires" for her because they are involved offscreen. The same director is shown covertly kissing a different actress later.
Pretending to be a woman makes Dorsey witness and experience the condescension, lies and harassment women in the television industry endure and ultimately makes him a better man.
6. Californication - 2007-2014
The Showtime TV series Californication is about troubled writer Hank Moody who tries to escape his writer’s block by moving to California and reveling in sex and drugs. A total womanizer, Moody sleeps with at least 21 women throughout the show’s seven seasons, including his ex-wife’s fiance’s underage daughter (For that he is found guilty of statutory rape and sentenced to three years probation). Unsurprisingly, Moody sexually harassed many women as well.
In one episode, after accidentally spilling a woman’s drink in her lap, Moody makes a sexual joke about her and puts his hand in her lap to wipe it up with a napkin. She is visibly shaken and pushes him away, but he continues to comment on her appearance. After a few moments, the show portrays her warming up to him, sending the message that if a man calls a woman beautiful enough times, he can get away with sexually harassing her.
While teaching a writing class, he makes a joke about masturbating, at which point a fellow professor asks him if he took the sexual harassment seminar. He reacts with surprise, acting like he didn’t know what he did wrong.
In another instance, Moody comments that one of his students is “smoking” hot, and claims it doesn’t matter that he’s old enough to be her father because he isn’t actually her father. When his TA resigns, he teases her that it must be because she finds him “irresistible.”
7. The Day of the Locust - 1975
The Day of the Locust is an adaptation of a 1939 Nathanael West novel about artist Tod Hackett who is hired to design and decorate sets for Hollywood films.
The trailer for the film claims it is an “unforgettable vision of love, success and dreams” in 1930s Hollywood. It failed to mention Hackett’s obsession over a young actress includes violent rape fantasies about her.
Hackett meets and becomes infatuated with young aspiring actress Faye Green, who considers him a friend and tells him outright she will only love a rich, handsome man. The trailer wrongly describes his feelings differently claiming “he loved her enough to believe in her fantasy,” even though his fantasies prove his feelings weren’t loving at all.
8. Entourage - 2004-2011
Long-running television series Entourage also demonstrated that women are not the only victims of sexual harassment and abuse in Hollywood.
The show was an HBO series produced by Mark Wahlberg, who described the series as being loosely based on his own early acting career. The show follows young actor Vincent Chase as he learns how to survive in Hollywood.
In Season 3, Chase’s agent Ari Gold is working to book a gay actor, Jay Lester. Lester agrees to sign with Gold, but only if Gold’s assistant Lloyd Lee (who is also gay) brings the contract himself, late at night because “it’s a tradition” for Lester to do a “signing ceremony” with his agents’ assistants. It’s clearly implied that this “ceremony” is sexual in nature.
When Lee privately protests, Gold tells him “all great men have had to make great sacrifices” and encourages Lee to justify going by “whatever gets you through the night.”
Later, Lester insists he’s already wined and dined Lee, and he won’t sign the contract unless Lee goes home to sleep with him. Gold pulls Lee out of Lester’s arms and says, “we may be whores at my agency, but we ain’t pimps.”
But the scene, as in some other movies and shows, was presented as a joke, with Lee finally slapping Lester in the face after Lester insinuates he would be an unsatisfying sexual partner because of his race.
9. L.A. Confidential - 1997
Although L.A. Confidential is a film noir set in 1953 primarily about corrupt cops who beat up prisoners and sometimes kill criminals rather than arresting them, shows the seedy side of the filmmaking business, according to Roger Ebert’s film review.
“The film is steeped in L.A. lore; [Author James] Ellroy is a student of the city's mean streets. It captures the town just at that postwar moment when it was beginning to become self-conscious about its myth,” Ebert wrote. “Joseph Wambaugh writes in one of his books that he is constantly amazed by the hidden threads that connect the high to the low, the royalty to the vermin, in Los Angeles--where a hooker is only a role from stardom, and vice, as they say, versa.”
In it, pornographer Pierce Patchett is a millionaire. Porn isn’t his only business — he “is running whores, cut to look like movie stars. Judging by his address, something bigger on the side,” according to Officer White (Russell Crowe). The prostitutes are eager young actresses who moved to Hollywoodland with big acting dreams, and then made over through plastic surgery to resemble real movie stars, like Veronica Lake.
But in the course of investigating a nightclub shootout, the police officers learn something much bigger is going on involving hookers, blackmail, the D.A.’s office and police officers.
One officer is shot dead by a superior after telling him Patchett had a blackmail scheme which involved photographing prominent businessmen with hookers that was connected to murder and corrupt cops. Later White and another officer shake down the D.A. and learn the pornographer and a Police Captain Dudley Smith partnered to take over gangster Mickey Cohen’s rackets and do whatever it takes to keep their secret.