How the Oscars Tackled (and Avoided) the #MeToo Movement

In the empowering time of #MeToo and Time’s Up, the 90th Academy Awards seemed to put the subject on the proverbial back burner. Though the response to sexual misconduct was addressed several times throughout the evening, it did not capture the forefront of the conversation like earlier in the awards season.

In his opening monologue as presenter, Jimmy Kimmel acknowledged the academy’s sordid past with formerly prominent member Harvey Weinstein, whose alleged actions spurred the initial responses of the Time’s Up movement.

“We can’t let bad behavior slide anymore. The world is watching us. We need to set an example, and the truth is, if we are successful here, if we can work together to stop sexual harassment in the workplace, if we can do that, women will only have to deal with harassment all the time at every other place they go,” Kimmel joked, with serious undertones.

Though Kimmel highlighted the actions through humor, E! host Ryan Seacrest took an opposite approach. He skirted the issue entirely, not asking any questions about the movement while hosting E!’s red carpet coverage.

Seacrest himself has been accused of sexual misconduct, as reported in Variety last month, though he referred to his accuser’s claims as “reckless allegations.” Following an investigation conducted by an outside counsel, NBCUniversal found the allegations to be insufficiently evidenced.

The Academy Awards seemed to be starkly contrasted to January’s Golden Globes, where the red carpet was where bold statements were made. Stars sported black attire for the evening to stand in solidarity with the Time’s Up movement, while Sunday evening’s Academy Awards red carpet was a vivid runway.

Despite the divergence between the two events, Kimmel pointed out in his opening monologue that the imbalances in Hollywood persist regarding equal pay and representation of gender, race and ethnicity.

“Greta Gerwig is the first woman to be nominated for director in eight years. And that’s important. Only 11 percent of movies are directed by women. And that is nuts. We still have a very long way to go in that department and a very long way to go when it comes to equal pay,” Kimmel said. “Over the course of this evening, I hope you will listen to many brave and outspoken supporters of movements like #MeToo and Time’s Up and Never Again, because what they’re doing is important.”

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