A New Yorker Essay on Harassment in Hollywood, by Producer Lynda Obst, Goes Viral
In her viral New Yorker piece this week, Lynda Obst—acclaimed producer of Flashdance, Sleepless in Seattle and Interstellar—describes how women used to make it in the Hollywood boys’ club: “if you wanted in on the decision-making you had to block out the vile language and the insulting sexism. ‘Don’t get kicked out of the room’ was the rule.”
Her essay is going viral because it offers a high-level glimpse into the flagrant abuse and misogyny that has characterized the industry for so long. In the wake of producer Harvey Weinstein’s mounting sexual assault allegations, it helps shed necessary light on the dark corners where this behavior has thrived.
Obst, who authored the classic Hello, He Lied: And Other Truths from the Hollywood Trenches, must grapple with her own place inside the system too: “I am wondering why I don’t feel more complicit. I think that we did what we had to do, given our desire to break into a closed business. Back then, there was no one to tell about what went on but each other. (The police? That is a cruel joke.) And if a man was kind and nurturing in a fatherly way, we were thrilled. Guys like that let us participate, and taught us the game, and we, in turn, did the same for the women who came after. I don’t think we would have reached this moment of change otherwise.”
She concludes with hope for the future, “I am thrilled that actresses will now, I think, be safer; that public relations crisis managers will be embarrassed to take the cases of abusers; that lawyers will be shamed for attacking victims, and that prosecutors will think twice before throwing out cases. And, most of all, that women who speak out will be protected by a chorus of supporting voices, and will never be alone again.”
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