While the #MeToo movement uncovered and corralled support for (mostly female) victims of systematic abuse, intimidation, harassment, and rape at the hands of some of Hollywood’s most powerful players, it also gave them a voice.
For decades, these women were silenced into submission—choked by their abusers’ power to make-or-break their careers through their industry influence—along with the power and money that funded their iron-fisted legal teams. But the #MeToo—and subsequently #TimesUp—movements were unprecedented in paving the way for society to acknowledge, discuss, and tackle sexual harassment. The abused were finally being listened to, not just heard.
However, it appears as if those harassers are looking to take their power back in the most tone-deaf way possible. Indeed, they may even potentially make a profit along the way.
This week, editor, writer and women’s advocate Tina Brown confirmed that she was approached to produce a show that was touted as a #MeToo atonement series. Disgraced CBS anchor Charlie Rose—who at last count had eight women accuse him of exposing himself and groping them—was tipped to star as the series’ lead. Rose has yet to comment on the report. But it appears as if the show would feature him interviewing other high-profile men who are or were embroiled in sexual harassment scandals—and hear their sob stories about how “sorry” they are.
But this is not a tale of redemption, it is in a tone-deaf, un-deserved, and unpalatable power-play that elevates these harassers back to the positions that silenced women, and men, in the first place.
The abused have waited for years, in some cases decades, to demand justice. Indeed, some will never see their abusers face consequence at all. Many are unable to risk the chance of having their lives overturned in the process, while in some cases they may not be able to afford the legal fees. Many victims might also lack the mental space to relive their trauma all over again.
However, even before many victims have had the chance to dry their tears—and in the same week that saw entertainment giant Bill Cosby this week finally convicted of sexual assault—Rose seeks to band together with his accused brethren to better their image, careers, and wallets. All this, rather than do what a truly atoned person would do—step out of the spotlight and allow the victim to be heard, supported, and rebuild their lives.
It is perhaps unsurprising that these men feel it’s appropriate to have a TV show centering around them. Various apologies, notably that of Louis C.K., fall into the atypical tone-deaf hole of painting themselves as the actual victims—while failing to acknowledge their power and privilege and dubious cover-ups.
There needs to be dialogue, there needs to be apologies. There does need to be a way to learn from mistakes and move on. But what the world—especially abuse victims—do not need is a group of men who thrived, fed off, and abused their power to take center stage and be given a platform that prioritizes them before the very victims they silenced for so long.