Women doing great at the workplace, more women gravitating towards the STEM fields of study, women in politics, women breaking barriers and challenging conventions, Hollywood actresses speaking out in favor of equal pay… women accuse Morgan Freeman of inappropriate behavior, harassment. Pause. Reflect. A déjà vu sets in – a man we idolize as a frontrunner in the film industry and one of the flag bearers of progressive cinema falls from the high pedestal we put him on to the ground within seconds.
Morgan Freeman has been accused by as many as 8 women of inappropriate behavior and harassment, which has made him join the league of powerful men in the show business who have been accused either of rape, harassment – sexual or otherwise, or any other form of inappropriate behavior.
These are women who have either worked with Freeman on film sets or work for him at his production company Revelations Entertainment. According to a CNN report, out of 16 people questioned and investigated, eight said that they had experienced some form of inappropriate behavior by Morgan – leering, passing lewd remarks, comments on figure and clothing – so much so that many of them changed their lifestyle and style of clothing when they were around him. The other eight questioned had been witness to Morgan’s misconduct.
With the recent revelations by prominent actresses of the industry and numerous incidents of harassment coming to light – starting from Harvey Weinstein and joined by the likes of James Franco, Bill Cosby, Kevin Spacey, Sylvester Stallone, Michael Douglas and the latest, Morgan Freeman – it has become evident that there are quite a few sexual predators lurking within the film industry hiding beneath the garbs of well-meaning, best-in-their-work artists whom we look up to.
Harvey Weinstein, the man whose name came out first in the open in these accusations, is a man whose power and control in Hollywood is matched by only a few. The movies churned out by his production-and-distribution companies Miramax and the Weinstein Company have earned more than three hundred Oscar nominations, a feat no small. His influence over the movie business can be understood by the fact that he has acted as a fund-raiser for Democratic Party candidates, including Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton.
It is this immense dominance that he enjoys that has caused many of the allegations on Weinstein come to light after decades, the earliest dating back to 1990. Top-notch actresses, including Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow, Cara Delevingne, Asia Argento and many others have spoken against Harvey Weinstein only after years of keeping mum, fearing their loss of career.
However, as actresses gradually started sharing their harrowing accounts of sexual advances and abuse by Weinstein, it soon turned into a large worldwide campaign with women from all walks of life and in all fields of work sharing their own such stories on social media platforms, especially Twitter, under #MeToo, empowering by telling each other that they are not alone.
These men are the same men we adore, worship and ardently follow, sadly without a clue of their real character because of the strategically and carefully crafted image showing just their philanthropic deeds. It is a win, however for the women who are now not afraid of telling the world what they have faced.
Ironically, the allegations against Freeman and his subsequent apologies come a day after Harvey Weinstein turned himself into the New York Police Department to face sexual assault charges, almost as if laying out a pretext for Freeman’s doomed future.