It’s the season of giving. And that endless Hollywood Predator Advent Calendar keeps giving and giving and giving.
Yesterday it was revealed that Senator Al Franken, who used to be a writer and performer on Saturday Night Live, kissed and groped radio news anchor Leeann Tweeden while she was sleeping during an overseas USO tour in 2006. There’s even a photo. Al has issued two apologies – the first was bullsh-t and the second was an attempt to recover from the bullsh-t.
Also yesterday, Trace Lysette, a trans actress on Transparent, accused Jeffrey Tambor of sexually harassing her on set.
According to Lysette, when she emerged from wardrobe in her costume — a salmon-colored lingerie top and matching short-shorts — Tambor remarked, "My God, Trace. I want to attack you sexually." Alexandra Billings, the third actor in the scene, was present to hear the remark, she confirms. Both "laughed it off because it was so absurd," Lysette says.
A few minutes later, while waiting for a camera setup between takes, Lysette was standing in a corner of the soundstage set. That's when she says Tambor, dressed as Maura, wearing a green satin kimono and gray wig, approached her.
"He came in close, put his bare feet on top of mine so I could not move, leaned his body against me, and began quick, discreet thrust back and forth against my body. I felt his penis on my hip through his thin pajamas," Lysette says.
An internal Amazon investigation is already underway after Jeffrey’s former personal assistant, Van Barnes, wrote in a private Facebook post that he sexually harassed her when she was working for him. Jeffrey, in response, has issued a statement, insisting that while he may not always be easy to work with, he has “never been a predator – ever”.
And then there’s Rocky, Sylvester Stallone. The Daily Mail published a police report from 1986 in Las Vegas, where Sly was shooting a movie at the time. He and his bodyguard allegedly forced themselves onto a 16 year old girl and then threatened to hurt her if she told anyone.
“This is a ridiculous, categorically false story," Michelle Bega, the actor's rep said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter. "No one was ever aware of this story until it was published today, including Mr. Stallone. At no time was Mr. Stallone ever contacted by any authorities or anyone else regarding this matter.”
Um, there’s a police report that the Vegas police have said “appears to be” authentic. And in the police report, the girl says she did not want to press charges because she felt humiliated. That’s why he was never contacted by the authorities. The fact that he hadn’t heard about the police report doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. It reads like it f-cking happened. You think a 16 year old girl wanted to go to the police and talk about how she had to suck Sly’s dick?!? For sh-ts and giggles?
And finally, Ben Affleck who’s also been accused of groping. Ben’s doing promotion for Justice League. Last night he was on Colbert. And Colbert asked him about Hollywood’s predator problem. And his own groping problem. It happens during the second half of the interview. And before we get to Ben’s response, let’s talk about the reaction in the audience when Colbert brings up Harvey Weinstein. It happens at the 2:35 point in the video below. You can hear some people groaning. Maybe they were groaning because Harvey Weinstein is vile. That’s possible. But it also sounds like discomfort. Like, ugh, why did Colbert have to go there? But isn’t that part of the problem? The avoidance of discomfort? The preservation of nicey-niceness above all that becomes the proverbial carpet that everything gets swept under? Ben’s reaction is a reflection of that too. A joke, but nonetheless. “This is a comedy show, correct?”
Anyway, to be fair, Ben does not run away from the discussion and he goes on to talk about his own realisations, about male privilege, and he gets specific about how male privilege disadvantages women:
“I didn’t understand what it’s like to be groped, to be harassed, to be interrupted, talked over, paid less, you know, pushed around, belittled: all the things that women deal with that, for me as a man, I have the privilege of not having to deal with.”
It’s the “interrupted”, and “talked over”, and “paid less” that sounds to me like someone – or several someones – has been talking to him. Is he listening? Or is he just memorising? You want to give someone the benefit of the doubt, for sure. But here’s what Ben Affleck might still want to work on. When Colbert asks Ben about the accusations that were made against him, by both Hilarie Burton (working at MTV at the time) and makeup artist Annemarie Tendler, he doesn’t even mention Annemarie, and he refers to Hilarie as “a woman”. When you are intimidated, you feel powerless. When you feel powerless, you can’t speak up. When you can’t speak up, you have no voice. When you have no voice, you have no identity. When you have no identity, you don’t have a name. When you don’t have a name, you become unimportant, just “a woman”. When you are unimportant, just “a woman”, you are “interrupted” and “talked over” and “paid less”. And also groped and harassed and raped. And photographed being groped and harassed while you’re sleeping. And belittled on set by the lead actor on the call sheet. And denied existence by Rocky. That’s what happens to women. Not just “a woman”. But so many women. Who all have names.