So far the list of People Whose Careers Are Cancelled includes Harvey Weinstein and Amazon’s Roy Price. In the fallout from the Harvey Weinstein scandal, there has been much talk but not a huge amount of tangible action. However, signaling the reach of this thing is still growing, another domino fell yesterday: Nickelodeon fired Chris Savino. Who? He’s the creator of an animated show, The Loud House. (Maybe parents know it?) Multiple accusations were made of harassment—and in a familiar pattern, there were years of rumors of bad behavior—and he was suspended. Then, within days, he was fired.
A reader tipped us off to the story, and no sooner did we start looking into it, then it was announced Savino was sacked. Immediately following, Nickelodeon Group president Cyma Zarghami released a memo in a bid for sunshiney transparency in how they’re dealing with this issue, which you can read here. And hundreds of women working in animation signed an open letter asking for real, tangible change to how business is done in the industry. As our reader put it, these things offer a “glimmer of hope that maybe things are changing.”
But it should be evident by now that this issue is not limited to one power-mad producer. It’s a top-down problem that affects every facet of the industry—not even your kid’s favorite cartoon show is exempt. And if it’s bad for animators—and it is—imagine how bad it is for women working in visual effects. For women working on camera crews—so rare they’re practically unicorns—and for the women cooped up in hair and makeup trailers for hours with celebrities who are used to getting away with whatever the f*ck they want. For PAs just trying to get their foot in the door and scared sh*tless of offending the wrong person, lest their career be derailed. For the film school students intimidated by professors and would-be employers.
Women shouldn’t be harassed in hotel rooms, producers’ offices, or film festival parties. But change can’t just be limited to above-the-line, on-screen talent. It has to happen for below-the-line workers, too, especially since they don’t have the benefit of a worldwide platform from which to be heard. Chris Savino’s firing is a reminder that this story isn’t contained to just actresses. It’s not one bad apple. It’s a systemic problem throughout the whole industry, and no one is safe. But the dominos are falling, and hopefully they keep falling—however many it takes—until we get real change.