I stumbled across this item from earlier in the month that probably got buried under all the hoopla concerning Trump’s Singapore summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. It seems Netflix is instituting a bit of a dictatorial regime of their own in response to the #MeToo movement.
In order to avoid sexual harassment and misconduct on the set, the streaming video giant has established rules of conduct that seem like something from a fictional dystopia or maybe an isolated and strict religious culture.
Netflix has introduced new anti-harassment training in the wake of the #metoo movement that rocked Hollywood and seriously disrupted production on its House of Cards show.
New rules imposed on set reportedly include no looking at anyone for longer than five seconds, no lingering hugs, no flirting and no asking for a colleague’s phone number. (emphasis added)
Get your stopwatches out.
Let’s remember that rules don’t really affect the culture in Hollywood. That’s even true when the rules are actual state laws. California passed legislation requiring the entertainment industry to take steps to screen out sexual predators among those agents and publicists who will be working with children. The law is being widely ignored.
Netflix’s new rules of conduct probably will be as well.
“Everyone was spoken to about #MeToo,” an on-set runner currently working on the new season of Black Mirror told The Sun.
“Senior staff went to a harassment meeting to learn what is and isn’t appropriate. Looking at anyone longer than five seconds is considered creepy.
Television and film are visual art forms. There are times when looking at someone for 5 seconds or more is part of the job.
“You mustn’t ask for someone’s number unless they have given permission for it to be distributed. And if you see any unwanted behaviour, report it immediately.
How would you know if someone has given permission to distribute their phone number unless you ask for it?
“It has sparked jokes,” they added, “with people looking at each other, counting to five, then diverting their eyes.”
Of course it has sparked jokes. It’s pretty silly.
Obviously the situations that launched the #MeToo movement are very serious, but a big part of the problem is that the perpetrators tend to be people who don’t think rules apply to them. Netflix may be putting something in place that will help them dismiss an offender after the fact or prevent innocent misunderstandings among colleagues, but will this address the real problem?
I doubt it. Rules like this are the equivalent of trying to stop school shootings by punishing kids for playing cops and robbers with finger guns and sticks. It has the same ring to it as the idiotic “teach men not to rape” philosophy as if men who commit sexual violence or other misconduct do so out of ignorance that it is wrong to do so.
And let’s face it, the problems in Hollywood don’t stem from a key grip’s inappropriately lingering gaze on the script supervisor.
It stems from really bad people who by virtue of their fame and marketability think they can get away with whatever they want. And they did get away with whatever they wanted for a long time as long as the money was rolling in. Until that changes this sort of change is purely cosmetic.