Do You Ever Wonder Why Survivors of Sexual Assault in the Entertainment Industry Don’t Report Their Abuse?
In 2012, before the dawn of the #MeToo movement, actress Anne Hathaway was on the press tour for her Academy Award-winning role in Les Miserables. One of her most important and influential scheduled interviews was on NBC’s Today Show. A few days before her appearance on Today, a member of the paparazzi took a photo up the actress’s skirt as she was exiting a car. The unauthorized photo, taken without Hathaway’s permission, captured her exposed genitals. The photographer publicized and sold the photo to the highest bidder.
In his interview with Hathaway, Matt Lauer, the now-disgraced host of the Today Show, tried to blame and shame her for the incident, even though the photographer’s actions of taking and distributing the photo, was most likely against the law—possibly falling under “lewd conduct” clause of California criminal law.
Hathaway adeptly shut him and his argument down.
In 2017, Lauer was fired from NBC for inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace.
In 1998, Jennifer Aniston was one of the most famous actresses on television. Friends was at the top of the ratings and her movie career was taking off.
David Letterman was also at the peak of his career as the host of CBS’s The Late Show. Being a guest on Letterman was proof that an entertainer had “made it” in the industry. An appearance on the show was a huge career boost to the already successful star and could cement her place as Hollywood “royalty.” But to David Letterman, Aniston was simply a commodity. Halfway through the interview, Letterman came up behind Aniston on national television and began to suck on her hair. Aniston jumped and then froze, visibly uncomfortable. If she reacted properly (pushing Letterman away, leaving the stage, and pressing charges), most likely her career would be over.
The result? Although she was the hottest star in Hollywood, she was still a victim of the casting couch. She was treated as nothing more than a commodity for Letterman to exploit. Aniston does not remark publicly on the incident. Letterman now has a multi-million dollar contract with Netflix, and recently interviewed Ukranian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
In 2009, Megan Fox was a guest on the Jimmy Kimmel Show, where she talked about being sexualized at age 15 by director Michael Bay. Instead of understanding what Fox was trying to say, Kimmel made jokes about her experience, normalizing her treatment (which included being forced to dance under a waterfall in a bikini as a young teenager) to the audience. Kimmel is still the host of ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live”, and his show is still considered an important platform for celebrities and entertainers who are seeking to publicize their projects.
Now, do you wonder why survivors of sexual assault and harassment in the entertainment industry don’t come forward and report?